|You wanna go into that foggy woodland alone? I didn't think so.|
Since I'm stuck at home because I can't find my wallet, now is the perfect time for me to blabber on this infamous Velvet Cacoon album. I say infamous because, from what I can gather, this band has brought up some strong controversy throughout the metal community. As this record was hitting shelves in 2004, many people criticized Velvet Cacoon for being unoriginal and described them as hoax because a number of their releases were apparently stolen from another band or actually didn't exist at all. On top of that, the two man project probably had a fake and varied history. What would Velvet Cacoon have to prove by adding false releases to their discography? Beats me. Of course, there was also the other side of the spectrum filled with people that loved the band and their minimalistic style of ambient black metal. I fall somewhere in the middle, as I don't know the whole story and don't particularly care to know because it might spoil my listening experience. As long as these guys aren't a NSBM band, I'm unlikely to care or shun them.
I should warn you that Genevieve is not for the lighthearted. The production is dry, gritty, raw, and generally very dirty. It aims for an exceedingly opaque atmosphere mixed with ambiance that is repetitive, yet strangely addicting. Protip: Don't play this in the car with your friends unless you want to get cussed out or be viewed as a freak. I can't say I favor overly repetitive music, but due to the gloomy, melancholy sound of Genevieve, the tracks don't get immediately stale. The first time I spun the record, I will admit I wasn't terribly impressed. In fact, it felt as if I was listening to a shower with an extremely faint beat in the background. But there's something about it that draws you in. Maybe it's the repeating guitar riffs that give a listener something to latch on to? Maybe it's the overall attitude? I can't be certain.
The most interesting aspect of the album are the ambient passages smoothly woven in and out of the more traditional drum and guitar sections. By no means is it original as I can think of countless black metal bands that blend ambiance with harshness, but for Velvet Cacoon it works better than anything else in recent memory. Take fellow USBM band Chaos Moon for example. Their ambient sections are usually keyboard-based with some pleasant, unoffensive chord patterns. Velvet Cacoon contrasts that with wind blowing, low rumbles, whispers, you name it. This could be characteristic of ambient black metal in VC's vein, but I'm no expert, so it seems relatively fresh. Heck, the last track "Bete Noir" is an epic 17-minute journey through the realms of little to no noise. Ambiance indeed. Is it filler? You decide.
A thought that has crossed my mind (and apparently many others) is if the two guys were tripping out of this world when they wrote and recorded the material. I definitely think it's possible because the music is pretty out there and much of it is very poorly performed. But like I said earlier, this type of incompetence only benefits the attitude the record was likely aiming to get.
Let's be clear here. This record won't make any top 40 lists. It won't ever become mainstream and it won't ever appeal to the run-of-the-mill metalhead. It isn't accessible. At all. If you're open minded and ready to search out musical qualities in something any normal music lover would call noise, put this on your list. It rewards dedicated listeners with little treats on every play. I've found something new hidden in the depths of Genevieve each time I've put it on. This isn't an album I will play daily, but will certainly keep in my stack of stuff to go back to. Overall, this is a very good record.
If only I could find a copy on vinyl,
The Metal Advisor
Velvet Cacoon - "Fauna & Flora"
(my current favorite track)
(my current favorite track)