For many the return of Mexican dark melodic metalers Dies Irae will not raise too much excitement with the band having what is fair to say a fairly limited exposure outside of its continent so far but investigation of their new album Secret Veils of Passion is sure to intrigue and satisfy in varying degrees anyone with a liking of strong eager melodies and an element of ingenuity.
Released via Chaos Records, Secret Veils of Passion sees Dies Irae not just returning as a band but with a new direction and in many ways identity to their sound. Formed in 1994 by vocalist/guitarist Jm Dahern (Dah), Dies Irae initially began with a ‘sad doom metal’ sound for their debut release Ab Imo Pectore released by Reborn Records in 1996. First album Etherial emerged in 1998 with the music within a stronger sound fused with a melodic death metal/jazz blend to be followed in 2002 by Naïve and another turn to their approach bringing a technical death metal strong vein. At this point the band split with Dahern linking up with friend and guitarist Fernz to form the project The Ill Over Death. The pair in 2009 decided to resurrect Dies Irae bringing new ideas and a new musical direction to the band. Joined by Daniel HG who brings backing vocals and set programming to the trio, the band started work on Secret Veils of Passion and the creation of a release that will surely grab attention even if its unpredictability and at times strained design raises questions as it firmly engages.
Secret Veils of Passion is a distinctly varied album which is a definite positive and though at times its meanderings seem to lead down endless avenues and occasional confusing journeys it is never less than intriguing and attention drawing. It is hard to tell if the band have confused themselves within songs with the sudden shifts of intent and direction or it is an inspired and provoking deliberate examination of the band own music and our senses but the album never lets ones attention drift off. Opening song ‘Want’ slips in with gentle emotive guitars and flow before expanding into a progressive melodic metal soundscape. There is no urgency to the track as it slowly ripples with stirring acute guitar tones and pulsating bass work. The track ripples with various ideas and eventual raised intensity bringing rock vocals seemingly inspired from the likes of Layne Staley and Scott Weiland. The song is a great introduction to the album building up the listener to what is ahead and immediately surprising them too.
‘To’ is a brief gothic toned piece of joy with beckoning teasing rhythms and brass like declarations. With a feel of Bauhaus the song is an impressive lead into ‘Tree’ and another shift. The song is again brief but this time there is an atmospheric emotive weave around the ear. The vocals are challenging with their often off key delivery and the music like aural waves as it laps at the ear with a kind of repetition. It is hard to decide whether the track works or not as at times it almost makes one wince but you can never move away from it and with strained vocals reminding of old 80’s UK indie band Felt there is a lure to it that is hard to resist.
As mentioned the songs vary greatly as in next song ‘For’ with its thrash lined death metal attack and intensity though again plenty of switches are included and some great progressive creativity. Further into the album there is ‘Sex’ with its sultry jazzy Faith No More feel swaying wonderfully on the ear and the expansive flight of ‘E7en’, its exploratory and slightly caustic intrusions provoking. Added to by the mesmeric grunge spiced ‘Hate’ and a groove that induces an eager response despite again unsure vocal delivery, these three tracks epitomise the smart diversity within Secret Veils of Passion.
Dies Irae have given a release that will leave many undecided as to whether it is a great album or an exceptional one but Secret Veils of Passion will definitely evoke a positive reaction of some degree in most and definitely should be sought and experienced.