Black Metal, Ambient
Wolves in the Throne Room, Blut Aus Nord
Ambiance and black metal are two genres that somehow should be able to co-mingle with one another as they can be eerily similar at times, depending on the artist of course. Portland, Oregon’s Velvet Cacoon has released an album that tries to do just this. The band consists of two musicians, Josh on guitar, vocals and drums and Angela on guitar. They bring to us a cold, gloomy and hypnotic blend of black metal on Northsuite. It features low scathing vocals with repetitive, reverb-drenched guitar work and tedious percussion. We have been kicking the tires on this one for a while now because it’s one of those albums that may grow on you over time. However, there seems to no lasting appeal here as it did not grow on us and it just became tiresome and lacks depth.
We have a few major gripes with this album, one is the awful drumming,
it is too repetitive and sounds often weak like a drum machine.
Percussion plays a huge role in black metal, it can make or break a band
and well it certainly does not benefit this album. There is also no bass to
be found anywhere on the album. How the hell do you not have bass on a
black metal album? And the production is weak, enough said.
The first track "Northsuite" is 11:42 of very low synth and guitar reverb and nothing else. It has a dark ambient feel and that’s about it, this is not a very promising opening track. The heavy repetitive "Winterglow" will appeal to black metal enthusiasts; they even throw in some acoustic breakdowns here. We got excited when we heard the acoustics, but they do not last long, what a shame, we thought they were on to something. Track three and five "Fire Bloomed from Frost" and "Salts and Ashes" sound exactly like track two, "Winterglow," so let’s move on.
Two other tracks feature only the droning guitar and these are "Chapeiflames" and "Bloodscents," they would make for good background music for horror films in some way. "Bloodscents" seemed to the best track on the album as the ambiance is a bit haunting. The last two track cuts, an alternate version of "Fire Bloomed from Frost" and "Dieselflame Novappre 1892" have a slight hidden shoegaze feeling that is nestled deep within, but it never comes to light as the repetitive black metal just blankets the album.
Our take on Northsuite is that is goes nowhere and has become virtually unlistenable with no lasting appeal for us. Perhaps a small percentage of hardcore black metal fans appreciate this, but there is much more out there to explore in this fascinating genre. - 10/7/2014
Standout Tracks: Bloodscents