Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Circle of Ouroborus - Veneration (2007) 60/100.

I suppose it was stupid of me to expect an experimental band to continue along the same lines of their full-length debut but this is exactly what I expected of ‘Veneration’, the sophomore full-length and of Finland’s Circle of Ouroborus. ‘Shores’, the full-length debut of the Finnish duo, was a strange mixture of all sorts of genres, including black metal. However, their sophomore is by far more simplistic in terms of instrumentation, song writing and direction. In basic terms, Circle of Ouroborus have taken the melancholy and solitudinous nature of ‘Shores’ and backed it up with rather simplistic neofolk full of emotion and melody.

This particular album came as a huge surprise to me, as you can imagine, since I hadn’t expected such a drastic change in style over the course of the two albums, especially when taking into consideration the fact that ‘Veneration’ was only released a mere few months after ‘Shores’, an album which seemed to have ties to genres like post-punk, so much so that the album included a rather unusual cover of a famous Joy Division song. ‘Veneration’, despite being completely stripped down, still manages to come across as full of character and life, using nature and a natural feel to the atmosphere as its main influence. This is shown well throughout the course of the album but particularly on songs such as ‘The Shadow of a Star’, a song which uses what sounds like a bongo, giving the atmosphere a very natural, tribal feel, as if the music were ancient.

This song also includes what sounds like a tambourine and gentle keyboards, evoking natural and mystical imagery in keeping with the rest of the album. Each of the eight songs flow well and usually into one another which, whilst making each a consistent ode to nature, the album can tend to feel like its dwelling too much on certain aspects and not enough on motoring forward, though this does give the album a sustainable direction as it never alters its own course. Although the band itself is very experimental, pushing their own personal boundaries with each of the albums I have heard of theirs, the album itself is a regular bout of neofolk, not particularly forging its own characteristics. ‘Veneration’ can tend to amble on by with its slow tempos and clean style but, like any nature based documentary, whilst it seems like there is no movement on the surface of a particular ecosystem, life is bustling beneath the surface and everything is moving at a mile-a-minute.

Although I wouldn’t suggest that this album is quick footed on its underbelly, there are certainly a number of things occurring at once which should keep your average listener satisfied, though I daresay this is an album which could only be described as “perfect background music”, for when you’re especially busy and don’t have time to fully concentrate on the piece, or even when you’re simply in the mood to relax, this album is perfect! It isn’t very challenging though and despite the bands experimental nature, metal acts churning out decent neofolk albums isn’t unheard of. They date back as far as Ulver’s early days, an album which I imagine has quite a bit in common with this particular one and with the bands movement through the genres, too. Circle of Ouroborus, much like acts such as Ulver, have continually, it seems, moved through the genres and kudos must be awarded to the two Finnish musicians for making each of their albums that I have personally heard interesting, fresh and reliable.

Songs like ‘Raise The Horns’ are excellent examples of the bands reliability when it comes to making music. The song is very simplistic and, at stages, quite repetitive, but it forges out some truly breathtaking melodies generated by the soft synths and acoustics. Not only this but Circle of Ouroborus indicate their adaptability when it comes to the vocals, too. The vocals on the debut were strange, eerily sung ones which were in keeping with the instrumentation, which was also eerie and strange. As on the debut, the vocals here are in keeping with the atmosphere and mood of the album, setting up a perfect partnership between itself and the instrumentation, again as shown wonderfully on ‘Raise The Horns’. The vocals, much like the music itself, are soft, gentle and moving. They sweep across the soundscapes with the help of the melodies generated by the acoustics and the synths. Although the album can become quite “samey”, it still has its own moments of joy, although this sophomore isn’t as impressive, memorable or, strangely, accessible to me as the debut despite its more straightforward approach.

1 comment:

  1. Download links:!l0MWiBIK!coxiOS0xnp3fJl5A-RJEsGqlRekNB5YTiN9Q8KjCcG8

    Amazing album.