CD Review

V.O.S. – “Veil of Secrecy”

By Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Veil of SecrecyWritten and recorded between 1995 and 2000, Steven Hall's Veil of Secrecy predates it, but it nonetheless calls to mind the spooky end credit ambience of The Blair Witch Project. Almost as morose and equally creepy, Veil of Secrecy is real deal cantankerousness with its hammer-like trance tones. A hypnotic and disturbed body of work, the five songs on Veil of Secrecy chug along with the pace and spirit of a Grand Inquisitioner, testing the listener's mettle and endurance, neither of which will come naturally. As if to extract heresy, Veil of Secrecy is wrenching and brutal with a purpose.

An Angel's Last Breath clangs and echoes with hollow strikes that announce something ominous and foreboding. This dead, somber track seems in favor of conveying a quiet rage devoid of much of the external clatter found in the work of Hall's peers. Hall, at least in the opening moments of Veil of Secrecy, seems content to work on the nerves with a subversive macabre presence. As continued on Throne to the Dogs, he creates an overwrought, dark mood that is depraved in nature, unnerving in structure.

Ruling Hand of Snakes has very little distinction from its predecessors, save for an increased tempo to Hall's maddened tones, now featuring the unwelcome addition of destabilized noises. What was merely gloomy before has become downright satanic, further exemplified by the demonic "ohm" mantra on Cold Embrace. Cold Embrace is lifted by a turbine engine squeal, rising in crescendo and becoming more menacing with each tortured minute. Hall's loop sample is a bit redundant here, robbing the track of its frigid intensity a bit, yet still capturing a trance quality completed on Coronation of Jackals. Far more concrete than the other four tracks, Jackals opts for quietude with an actual melody, still creating a wintry and aloof sensation that is nowhere near as evil.

Veil of Secrecy is a tough ride down Doom Drive. Far more listenable than others of this genre, the punishing ambivalence of Steven Hall's work will nevertheless have one mysteriously turning headfirst into the darkest corner of the basement after a listen. If that's a compliment to Hall, then so be it.

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