Written by: Henry Lauer
Artist: The Veil
Title: Ghosts of Memory
Genre: Metal / Shoegaze / Neofolk / Progressive
01) When We Were Alive
04) The Tide
05) The Light that Burns
07) On Other Days
08) What Will come
09) Trust Me
Though this is their debut long player, The Veil are a seasoned Australian band, and their experience (particularly live) shows throughout Ghosts of Memory. The essence of this band lies in their mastery of emotional dynamics: The Veil transcend musical genres with an almost galling ease, turning always towards the precious goal of dark and unfettered expression.
This has to be one of the the most diverse (yet totally coherent) fusion of influences ever. One moment soul-crushing doom, the next virulent black metal; yet soon we find ourselves in almost upbeat new wave and pensive shoegaze, with neofolk and classical resonances throughout.
The Veil draw on every one of these points of reference – and more besides – somehow weaving together a sonic experience that is startlingly unique; that ranges into extremity without losing accessibility. To say this is a rare achievement would be a terrible understatement.
Each song is a journey that uncompresses through time, tracing out resonances of dark and cathartic grandeur. The compositions are sophisticated, utilizing complex layering and contrapuntal elements to fully draw out the atmospheres and moods inherent. They are well matched by lyrics that convey a grim pathos – a sense of resolution amid the gloom of existence.
Some stand-out moments on this album include the exultant black metal Bacchanalia with which “Endtime” climaxes; the melodic shadows of “The Tide,” which conjure a contradictory feeling of joy and loss; and the motif melody of “What Will Come,” which speaks with a doom metal eloquence and passion all its own.
The chorus harmonies that bring “The Light that Burns” to its apex of yearning majesty, and the melodic collapse that transforms “The Distance” into a triumphant masterpiece, also stand out. Indeed, every track has its own unique sense of drama and crisis, and it is rare to hear songs that so transparently channel raw feeling into tonal form. This is a long album, but every second of it is resonant with brilliance.
As arrangements go, Ghosts of Memory is a beautiful demonstration of how to work with complexity rather than for it. Likewise, the album makes a tremendous case for the view that genres are palettes of sonic color and not ends in themselves. Hence, the sometimes familiar feels and elements of The Veil’s disparate influences virtually become instruments in themselves.
In other words, despite the breadth of influences displayed, Ghosts of Memory never feels contrived. If there is a self-awareness about its genre-bending scope, it is not matched by self-consciousness. The album is a potent testament to the view that music is music first, and convention or style second. As such it will genuinely appeal to a huge spectrum of audiophiles, without sacrificing the integrity of any of the influences and philosophies that inform its shape.
In essence, then, this is a gritty, beautiful, and courageous album, from a band that has forged an identity purely its own. The Veil bring great depth to their music, and Ghosts of Memory is a wonderful education in how to listen to any kind of music – as well as in how to compose and arrange any kind of music.
Ghosts of Memory’s ability to gather so many very specific atmospheres and influences into a single coherent whole stems from the creative bravery and ingenuity of the band’s members; one cannot help but be haunted by the thought that this is the debut release of an outfit that will go far. Ghosts of Memory is a necessity for anyone whose soul is nourished by passionate, raw, dark, and dynamic music.