In a fit of puzzling generosity,12 relative n00b TheKenWord foisted this album upon me for review purposes. I hadn’t heard of Black Vulpine, but the young whippersnapper made Veil Nebula sound so enticing that I couldn’t say no. Although it did make me wonder, if this German quartet (almost like a stoner/doom version of Abba, with two men and two women in the band) was so great, why was he bailing on the review?3 Well, far be it from me to disappoint my well-intentioned coworker, so here we are, a few weeks into it, compiling thoughts on a massive (in more than one way) helping of Teutonic stoner doom. Whether or not I ever talk to TheKenWord again will be determined in a few hundred more words…
Riffs abound on Veil Nebula. In fact, it’s safe to say that guitarists Sarah Voß and Daria Stirnberg pack more into their twin guitar sound than most other bands. Each song is loaded with tasty riffs and solid, compelling leads. “Limbus” is a great example, opening with a bizarre chord and leading into a driving riff, thunderously backed up by Rüdiger Stirnberg on drums and Stefan Zacharias on bass. Sarah’s vocals alternate between eerie and ass-kicking. “In the Dawn” features a massive riff that’s just dipping its toes into doom territory, and Sarah’s vocals follow along. And speaking of doom, “Foredoomed” carries on with more fantastic guitarwork. All these songs bring to mind older efforts from bands like Red Fang and Kylesa, but the doom/stoner/prog mashup Black Vulpine display here is all their own.
Most of the songs follow the above template, with strong results, but Black Vulpine do change things up on a few numbers. “The Painting” is pure doom, eerie and ponderous, and at four and a half minutes, it builds and builds to a noisy climax before grinding to a halt. “Minotaur” slows things down with more moodiness, reminding me of Sinistro at first before the big guitars kick in. Closing songs “Liar” and “Uprooted” rock amazingly hard, with fantastic riffs (have I mentioned the riffs yet?) and groovy, heavy rhythms. Aside from “Dread,” every song here either rocks hard, dooms hard, or at least contains nuggets of stoner, doom, and/or prog brilliance.
My main gripe with Veil Nebula is length. Eleven songs and 64 minutes of guitar-heavy stoner/doom is exhausting on the ears. Trimming down a few of the six-minute songs, and eliminating the one dud on the album, “Dread,” (with one of the most annoying riffs I’ve heard since Judas Priest’s “Loch Ness,” it makes me look out my window and wonder why geese are flying overhead in the middle of February) to bring this album in closer to 50 minutes would do wonders for its effectiveness. And while Sarah’s vocal style works more often than not, there are times when her laid-back approach can come across as boredom. A good producer would ensure that every lyric was delivered with the utmost conviction.
Minor quibbles aside, Black Vulpine have delivered a solid stoner metal album with overt doom and prog influences, heavily centered on massive guitar riffs. Veil Nebula is loud and aggressive, full of some of the genre’s best musicianship and, at times, excellent vocals. Some careful editing and closer attention to vocal delivery and we should see this band deliver something special with their third album. I guess I’ll keep talking to TheKenWord: his recommendation was pretty good.
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Moment of Collapse Records
Websites: blackvulpine.bandcamp.com | blackvulpine.de | facebook.com/blackvulpinemusic
Releases Worldwide: March 1st, 2019