Many people hold many things as precious in this wonderful floating rock we call Earth. Some value money over all else. To others, power is the key to happiness. Love is also a beautiful, unifying force in this cesspool of a world. The one thing we all can agree on and wish we could hoard, is time. Time is precious. Time is fleeting. Some people waste it wantonly. Others hold it near and dear to their hearts. Having lost several people (and pets) who were close to me this year alone, I value my time highly. So when a one-man black metal band from Australia decides to put out an eighty-minute long black metal record, it better damn well hold my attention and captivate me. Moon, who also has the distinction of joining the elite in bands with horrible names for search engines, released such a beast in Render of the Veils, mainman Miasmyr’s fourth full-length. How otherworldly is it?
To be fair, it starts off promisingly enough. “Immolation Euphoria” whooshes in with some rather unsettling keyboard sounds, bringing in an otherworldy aura that bands like Darkspace have nailed time and again. It’s also effective at just over a minute and a half in length. And then “Mordraniht” peters out at launch with a trebly, poorly-mixed guitar “melody,” horribly off-time drums, and no atmosphere to speak of. I do, however, want to find out what cavern Miasmyr’s howling from, because it sounds spacious as shit. I could easily fit all of my musical equipment, gaming systems, the Grymmmobile (a beat-up 2003 Pontiac Sunfire with fuzzy dice in the rearview mirror and a souped-up stereo system that seems to only play ABBA), and my army of cats. Otherwise, this didn’t hold my attention at all.
I’ll admit right here and now that I signed up for this review because the promo sheet listed this as “space metal,” and I thought, “well, this could be like a Darkspace-ish journey.” What I got was Xasthur worship, only not as well-played. This is sonically black teflon: nigh-impenetrable and nothing sticks, even after repeated listens. Speaking of which, of the eleven songs, only five are under the seven-minute mark. To pull something like that off, you need to engage the listener somehow, and I can safely say, after listening to it every day for a week straight, nothing grabs the listener at all. It howls (“Mordraniht”), whooshes (“As Stars Merge With Ice”), and it sometimes sounds very skippy (“Mirror of Black Souls”), but none of it is memorable.
The mix is part of the problem. The guitars are too far back, the keyboards are up too high, and vocals are everywhere (I want that cave so bad). The drums are sloppily played, with “Mordraniht” and “Mirror of Black Souls” being key offenders, where the kick drum seems to be tripping over itself. But the biggest problems are the actual songwriting and the sheer length of it all. 80 minutes of a couple of notes and riffs endlessly repeated with loud swooshing keyboards has about as much appeal as listening to this again does.
Besides picturing a new abode worthy of my Hoarding: Buried Alive fantasies, Render of the Veils is an exercise in patience in which you don’t need to partake. If you want to be thrown into the outer reaches of the void, reach for Darkspace instead. Otherwise, go watch a classic MST3K episode. That’s 80 minutes better spent.