Dies Irae [Mexico]
Secret Veils of Passion
Prior to encountering Dies Irae from Mexico, the only other Dies Irae that I knew was the Polish band, with their furious brand of death metal. Mexico’s Dies Irae, however, presents a totally different style of music, with the band beginning with melodic death metal in their early days, before splitting up then reforming and subsequently mellowing down their sound into what we have today, in the form of Secret Veils of Passion.
Not knowing what to expect (not being exactly a fan of such atmospheric/post-rock genres), the album certainly surprised me a little. Album opener Want introduces listeners to what will be the style of the band, with a calming and soothing soundscape, with clean and reverb-y guitars that greet the listener, before the almost-jazzy programmed drums enter, giving the music a somewhat psychedelic effect, and a trem-picked lead guitar line lingers at the background, throwing a whole myriad of sounds towards the listener. Then without warning, a distorted guitar enters the picture, giving some sense of heaviness to the music. Vocalist Dahern often drawls out the lyrics, dragging out the vowels and giving the songs a lazy sound (in a good way, though) and unique touch.
Throughout the album, the band presents a nice mix of various genres in their songwriting, that at times threatens to mess with the listener’s head, yet managing to retain some sense of sanity throughout, and the soothing backdrop is especially important in helping to do so. On top of those already mentioned above, vocalist Dahern at times breaks out into a desolate scream/shout, and gives the music an almost depressive feel. Songs like To even emanates a haunting and doomish mood, with the atmosphere sending chills down one’s spine, and the more calming and softer moments on the album like Fight brings to mind such psychedelic bands as Pink Floyd, and For brings in some of the band’s older influences with the melodic death metal-sounding riffing patterns. Each of the members in the band are certainly capable at what they do, and this can be seen for example through the guitar solos of Fernz, often emotional and melodic, even on the faster ones, where he displays some excellent finger-acrobatics like on For. There are even some jazz-fusion moments on Sex, and the listener is instantly reminded of those instrumental rock records in the playing style and sense of melody that is clearly present.
Despite the strong moments being those softer moments, on the heavier moments on the album the impact doesn’t really hit the listener hard enough, with the programmed drums being the one that pulled down such moments, and could have been better if the band had utilised a real drummer. The programmed double-bass drums are weak-sounding, and lack the force to really bring out the emotions of aggressive moments, such as those on For. Also, while the band’s efforts to mix and match various genres is certainly commendable, there are times when the band tends to end up having the opposite effect instead, sounding almost as if they were unsure what they really want to do. The single-syllable song titles also could come across as overly pretentious as well. Overall though, Secret Veils of Passion is a nice mix-bag of surprises, whether one is looking out for post-rock, atmospheric metal material or more aggressive melodic death metal material.