Dies Irae // Secret Veils of Passion
Rating: 1.0/5.0 —Cannot be unheard.
Label: Chaos Records
Websites:Â facebook.com/diesiraeonline | myspace.com/diesiraeonline
Release Dates: US: 01.09.2012 | EU: Unknown
So, last year (also known as last week) we introduced this thing called the “Top Records We Wish We Could Unhear” and I’ve already gotten to my first nomination for the year of 2012. Dies Irae (no, not that one, the Mexican one) is apparently an old melodic death metal band that has remade itself in the image of “post-metal” (no, not that kind of post metal, the kind from 1999) and got themselves signed by Chaos Records, who otherwise have pretty good taste in bands. Secret Veils of Passion is, therefore, the first of the band’s new, updated versions of itself and it is a remarkable record to behold. But no, not that kind of remarkable. Think more like: I am remarking upon it.
At its base, Secret Veils of Passion could actually be a really interesting and engaging record. It is obviously the work of dudes fluent in metal and moving away from it, so it is quite reminiscent of mid-era Katatonia or Anathema. Though, it should be noted, that at times the band is much heavier than anything the aforementioned bands ever did during their later careers. When Dies Irae goes into its melodic death metal moments, like on “Hate” or “For” this material is actually very good. There’s a thrashy Dark Tranquillity or Hypocrite vibe to the material that wakes up the slumbering desire for late-90s Swedish metal. The screams are raw and vicious, and while the guitar tone itself is remarkably kazoo-like, and the drums are obviously a drum machine, there is an appeal.
Even when the band wanders into other material, the music itself is not always predictable (or even very metal). The track “Fight” actually reminds me of more traditional Mexican pop music I’ve heard before and “Sex” has an Alice In Chains vibe that works pretty well. In these areas, the band is obviously pulling themselves away and striking off into unfamiliar territory. This means that at times the guitar work, which has several remarkably deft shredding passages, sounds almost amateurish and off. But even then Dies Irae actually does well on a lot of these tracks, combining styles of music you wouldn’t expect to sound that great together into a dour cocktail of sadness and exhibitionistic depression.
All of that praise said, this record is entirely destroyed by one of the worst vocal performances I’ve ever heard in my entire life. Very few things can be said objectively when talking about music, but I can definitely tell you one thing: Dies Irae does not have a member of the band who can sing. And apparently they’re all fucking tone deaf, too, because the record was released. And it’s not just the overly dramatic and pompous, but remarkably amateurish delivery: it’s that they’re obviously out of key. On the aforementioned “Fight,” for example, the harmonies in the chorus are gratingly bad. They make my skin crawl. In the not pronounceable and stupidly entitled “E7en,” (Eh-seven-en?) the vocalist utters some of the ridiculously bad lyrics in what appears to be a melody… that is not actually in the same key as the guitars underneath him, if it’s in a key at all.
This entire record is one tragically bad vocal line after another and it kills me (and we’re not even talking about the lyrics). Because while I probably would have commented on the production and said “Wow, I like Katatonia a lot, too!” or I would have called the writer a pretentious naval gazer, this record should be much better than it is. I’m not sure if no one in his surroundings has told him he’s a bad singer, or what the hell the label is thinking that signed them, but this is just bad. This is not a matter of taste, either. Unless what you like is out of tune vocals…but then that’s a bit like enjoying necrophelia. Your thing, but you can’t really expect the rest of us to follow along with you, you know?
So, don’t, under any circumstances, check this record out. Save yourself the time and effort. And hopefully next time Dies Irae will find themselves a vocalist.