Veilcaste – Precipice Review

Alright, here’s a puzzler for you. Indianapolis sludge metal band Conjurer released their first full-length Old World Ritual in 2015. Then, in 2019, follow-up Sigils dropped. In 2020, Conjurer chose to swap names, now operating under the moniker Veilcaste. Same band members and everything. As Veilcaste, their first release listed is, naturally, Old World Ritual, dated 2015. That’s fine, people rebrand their older albums all the time (see Unto Others, aka Untoothers). But Metallum doesn’t list their second album, Sigils, on their Veilcaste page, skipping right to this year’s upcoming release, Precipice. The band, on the other hand, lists all three on their Bandcamp homepage. So what gives, Metallum?

Anyway, back to business. Veilcaste play a lumbering, ponderous sort of stoner sludge doom with little in the way of frills or other decoration. Bare and barren atmosphere provides little support for the fuzzy guitars and chunky rhythms, both reminiscent of Forming the Void, stomping across forty-one minutes. Nothing penned on Precipice moves any faster than your average street sweep, and since it’s doom, that’s perfect. However, it also seems to lack a certain sense of scale and weight that should compensate for its lack of speed and quickness. Vocals lack dynamics as well, taking the form of a monotonous bark—not entirely dissimilar to the gutsier howls of Damnation’s Hammer—for the vast majority of the runtime. For what it’s worth, Precipice’s textures and tones strike a very pleasing palette of sound, and allow every performance to be heard and felt with ample breathing room to spare.

Kicking off the record is, “UUUAAGH… I SAID UUUAGH!” Goofy, yes, but there’s no cooler way to rip open a fresh can of doom. Things plummet rapidly from there, however, as opener “Asunder Skies” grows increasingly more annoying. A single word, “Aurora” haunts the track with various different cadences, but in total it alone comprises a huge portion of all lyrical content there. While this may be a troubling way to make a first impression, it’s not Veilcaste’s worst. “For Us” is likely to be among the worst songs I suffer through all year. Juvenile tough-guy-but-sad lyrics conspire with a painfully slow-moving composition to render the album’s shortest song nigh unbearable. Riffs repeat ad nauseam until I don’t even notice them anymore, which only forces those insufferable lyrics upon me in greater detail, and thus the song’s true character creates a violent cringing of my body. Every other track on Precipice acquits itself somewhat more admirably than “For Us,” but forgettable songwriting, painful monotony in riffs and vocals, and a near-complete lack of momentum plague each without mercy. Adding further insult to injury, bloat inflates every song except for “For Us,” stretching them way beyond what few ideas contained within could support and effectively causing forty-one minutes to feel like eighty-two.

That said, there are flashes of potential harbored deep within Precipice. “A Gasp of Air,” the album’s penultimate track, offers a legitimately cool, if simplistic, riff to support and bolster its launch. Carrying that strong compositional element forward, subtle shimmering leads elicit an ethereal atmosphere which lightens an otherwise dark and stormy tune. The drumming further enhances the song by freely exploring the space created between the guitars with more dynamic fills, beats and rhythms than I find elsewhere on Precipice. It could still use a little trimming in the middle, as it loses track of its destination and meanders for a while before finding its footing again, but it boasts solid ideas throughout. Additionally, “Empty Hell” showcases the most robust, if grating, vocal performance on the record, and features an undeniably cool organ element which all but carries the one-note chugs along.

If these two tracks’ best attributes featured more heavily album-wide, Precipice would have been an entirely different, and undoubtedly more enjoyable, experience. As it is today, however, there are few positives on which to wax. Between monotonous songwriting and vocals, insufferable lyrics and gutless delivery, Veilcaste’s third record leaves almost nothing behind worth remembering. There’s little here to take away with me when I leave, save for a distant sense that I’ve wasted my time. It hurts to say it, and I’m sure it’ll hurt to read it, but Precipice was a chore, and that’s a shame.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Wise Blood Records
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 10th, 2023

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