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Dawn of Ouroboros – Velvet Incandescence

Dawn of Ouroboros – Velvet Incandescence

Dawn of Ouroboros - Velvet Incandescence

Dawn of Ouroboros is a group that impressed me from first contact. Their amorphous concoction of post-black metal, progressive technical death metal and hypnotic, surreal soundscapes have made them a unique voice in the metal scene, one that makes them stand out through many genres while not fully fitting into any of the boxes. Although they are still a young band, the level of professionalism, authenticity and originality delivered in their songs far outweighs the work of many names with decades of experience in the field, at least as far as I’m concerned. Their 2020 debut, “The Art of Morphology” has remained a glowing gem in my ever-growing collection of music, and when the sophomore album, so enticingly titled “Velvet Incandescence”, was released, I knew that no matter how busy and chaotic my life would get, there would eventually be some hours to spare, to let myself fall into their hypnotic soundscapes once more. Having done so, and having emerged back into reality with a rejuvenated sense of life, I wish to inform you dear reader, THAT I HAVE OPINIONS!!

Since this is a progressive music site that you are reading, as much as I find this album to be a deeply emotional and cathartic experience, I would still like to kick things off by diving into the technicalities and compositional intricacies that this band is capable of creating. And believe me, they’ve got plenty of those. The genres post-black metal and progressive technical death metal might already give you an idea that they have a knack for weird combinations. Post black metal is emotional, raw, dirty and atmospheric while progressive death metal often tends to degenerate into a hyper-technical, uber-precise, mega calculated and flawlessly sophisticated ego-flex. So how would you make those work together? It turns out that Dawn of Ouroboros really know how to instill gradual changes in their music as it progresses, allowing for heavy and technical passages to be followed by peaceful dreamlike soundscapes, alternating in waves. They also know how to marry the opposites into the production. Every instrument is incredibly well defined, crisp and clear in sound, but they all have a somewhat bare-bone, raw texture that doesn’t allow anything to feel quite “modern”. On top of that, the affinity for ambiguous layering of vocals and various echoing sampled effects coats the entire soundscape in cerebral fluff and glues all the pieces together. This is why you can have soaring hypnotic singing over drilling blast beats or crushing chugging riffs and have it make sense. There’s always some element paced in between that dampens the contrast and fills in the gap.

Dawn of Ouroboros – Rise From Disillusion

 Quite often that element is the bass, which deserves a particular amount of love. It may seem that it does its regular job of pummeling the low-end frequencies as it would in pretty much any other band, but it refuses to remain a background instrument due to the melodic approach to writing and the clarity with which it comes forth in the mix. Without needing any spotlighting moments or flashy passages, the fluid performance and clean polished sound puts it in stark contrast with the abrasive guitar texture and dry, stripped-down effect of the drums. Thus, it becomes as present an instrument as you would expect in a band like Beyond Creation. Thanks to its constant presence, the guitar parts can then go completely savage on the riffs. We see a constant alternation between black metal riffs on the one hand, creating a raw wall of sound effect, and more complex, dynamic riffs on the other hand providing more agility and attack. The same alternation often happens on the drums with a superb interplay of groovy, head-bangable drops and blisteringly planted blast beats, connected by seamlessly fluid transitions.

However, the heavy and technical aspects compose just a part of the vibrant experience that the full band delivers. The opening track, ‘Healing Grounds’ is a great summary of all the directions that the band can take, starting with tranquil, layered clean vocals, echoing clean guitars and gentle, mumbly bass, which then gradually invites guitar riffs, more planted drum grooves, screaming vocals and eventually blast beats to make their way into the mix. Half way through the song, you’ve had a brief sample of almost everything they can do, and for the rest of the album, they just do a fantastic job of developing every single one of those details to its full potential.

Dawn of Ouroboros – Velvet Moon

 The melodic components of the music cannot be left unnoticed either. Despite the cathartic, ritualistic aura of the album, there’s always room for some breathy, ear-wormy guitar leads as well as fully fledged, technical and swirling solos. And vocalist Chelsea Murphy completes the melodic game with various takes on clean singing, sometimes gentle and soothing, sometimes raspy, and sometimes deeply melancholic. Regardless of which one it is, it’s processed so strangely into the production sound, and perfected by so many layers that she ends up sounding like an alien entity (or more of them) performing a religious ritual to their intergalactic deity. On top of that, her screaming must be one of the most scarring black metal vocal performances I’ve ever heard. Her corrosive texture as well as her impressive sustain and volume bring the final surge of power that the music needs to develop the complete wall of sound.

Dawn of Ouroboros – Testudines

 But ultimately, this album didn’t impress me most through its heaviness, technicality, scale or aggression. It’s the emotional experience that really sets it apart. The album sounds like a ritual that hooks you and then engulfs you entirely. And despite the fact that there’s nothing clear about the messaging behind it, a sense of natural connection to the art emerges, as if it taps into something primal and fundamental to life. Whether it’s the skillfully seductive crescendo to ‘Healing Grounds’, the chaotic, torturous drive of ‘Cephalopodic Void’ or the calming familiarity exhaled in ‘Velvet Moon’, the freedom of expression is unleashed to the fullest. In the end, all the music has to do is move and breathe, and you’ll follow along with it. The lyrics seem to give me a similar experience too. There isn’t a clear message or a distinguishable narrative to follow, but rather a stream of cascading imagery and descriptive sensations, the true meaning of which you can only guess, but can’t really be bothered to think about. Sometimes I love just how well music can get its intended message across, but this is not one of those times. This time around, I love just how unnecessary it is for it to make sense. The mysterious, abstract and indecipherable nature of the Dawn of Ouroboros sound is what gives its true character. It’s exactly what it has to be, and I’ll leave it at that.

Track List:

  1. Healing Grounds (05:29)
  2. Testudines (04:44)
  3. Iron Whispers (06:19)
  4. Levitating Pacifics (08:04)
  5. Rise From Disillusion (07:30)
  6. Castigation (03:29)
  7. Cephalopodic Void (03:59)
  8. Velvet Moon (06:44)

About the Author

Andrei Dan

Born and raised in Romania, currently living and studying in the Netherlands, Andrei was introduced to both classic and modern prog at once when he discovered Symphony X and Intervals in 2015. He has quickly grown fond of all the sub-categories of metal but keeps a focus on progressive or innovative music. Most of his free time is spent keeping track of new artists or releases and visiting concerts.

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