The bulk of music we cover here tends to bask in negativity and chaos, the feeling the world is a hellscape and danger is around every corner prevailing. But it doesn’t all have to be that way, and it’s refreshing when bands come along with a different viewpoint. Just because the music is heavy doesn’t mean the pressure has to be, so being able to feel something brighter can be a serious boost.
Progressive metal power Dawn of Ouroboros spent their half decade together pushing their art into regions not always heavily explored, and that continues on their alluring second record “Velvet Incandescence.” Seeking a place to find solace in the darkness and a place to call home (be it a physical location or a mental one), the album thematically exposes these ideas and acts as a brighter star illuminating their musical universe dressed in black and death metal leanings. The band—vocalist Chelsea Murphy (also of Cailleach Calling), guitarist/synth player Tony Thomas (also of Cailleach Calling and Botanist), guitarist/pianist Ian Baker (Red Rot), bassist David Scanlon (Deliria), drummer Ron Bertrand (Botanist, Red Rot)—brings together ample experience from other forward-thinking groups, but they go above and beyond with this imaginative and devastating project. Each of these 46 minutes is gripping, thought-provoking, and pummeling, giving your mind and body a workout.
“Healing Grounds” begins delicately, dreamy singing flowing over you, the playing slowly developing. Then things open up, the shrieks pierce eardrums, and the emotion spirals into chaos. The playing goes from wild and ripping to oddly calm, sludgy attacking jabs, and leads sweep as things disappear into the cosmos. “Testudines” is an energetic burst, Murphy shrieking, “Plague the mind like fungus sporing and spreading, through guarded gates of a protected mind.” The hammering makes your flesh bruise as savagery connects, and even the breezier moments feel volatile and about to burst. The prog energy swells as the playing thunders through, and the unhinged howls have seismic impact. “Iron Whispers” is chilled and devastating as it starts, building a strong atmosphere as the vocals unhinge their jaws and swallow you whole. The song gets more soulful, hitting guttural lows and atmospheric highs, Murphy singing, “Free your spirit to explore these grounds, absorbing wisdom of ancestor past Interlocked hands, with strength we take our stance.” “Levitating Pacifics” starts clean and hazy, synth creating a wall, the metallic burst going through your guts. A melodic gush liquifies as Murphy calls out, speaking and then singing, punchy jolts crunching bones and pulling teeth.
“Rise from Disillusion” rips open with ferocious madness, vicious playing beginning to twist your muscles into unnatural angles. The shrieks mash as a black metal-style assault unloads, the singing rising and increasing the passion, fiery hell unleashed that melts your pain away. “Castigation” is murky, Murphy speaking, calling out, “Warmth radiates, energizing, filling heart to limbs, a crescent upon face, stretching upwards and expelling tears like memories, rain from lush colored eyes.” Then the floor drops as raw howls and gnarly power unite and shred, every element mangling and suffocating. Manic shrieks rain down, the melody swells, and the final moments find some solace also marked with tribulation. “Cephalopodic Void” opens with strange chants, the track taking on a New Age feel in which your brain swims. Spacious leads swallow whole as the growls pick at wounds, the playing angles into space, and immersive echoes write the final lines. Closer “Velvet Moon” dawns in shimmering keys and then charred chaos, emotions rushing along with the simmering guitar lines. “A gift from the velvet one, simmer down into a puddle of one-sided consciousness, ice covered numbers of time pleading to stay, to wake the past again, to be home with you,” Murphy gushes as you find your heart pumping a little more forcefully. The playing turns lush and effusive, group singing makes your spirit rise, and a cloud cover adds a level of comfort as you find your way home again.
Whether we admit it or not, we all seek a place where the dark forces of the world can’t get to us and we have a safe place where our hearts and minds can heal from trauma. “Velvet Incandescence” is a way for Dawn of Ouroboros to both provide that to listeners and achieve it for themselves, making it a little easier to manage our own struggles. The fact the music is a progressive dream, jolts bolts loose from iron, and creates an adventure not easily achieved is just as heavy, and it makes for an album that could hit you differently each time you hear it depending on where your mind fixates.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/dawnofouroboros
To buy the album, go here: https://shop.prostheticrecords.com/products/dawn-of-ouroboros-velvet-incandescence
For more on the label, go here: https://www.prostheticrecords.com/