Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Palace of Worms: Lifting the Veil (2010)


If there is any label currently vying for the Profound Lore throne at the top of forward-thinking metal, it's The Flenser. They recently offered the sophomore album of San Francisco one-man black metal project Palace of Worms free through Bandcamp.

The label describes Lifting the Veil as a black metal "inversion". I'm not sure inversion is the right term. That implies it's taking black metal and turning the whole thing on its head. But what is black metal? Today, you could boil it down to two very different camps (at least, if you don't count the French, who are most definitely doing their own thing). First, there is the old-school, Transilvanian Hunger camp, more or less content to ape the 90's golden era of Norwegian black metal. Then, there's the new camp, your Wolves in the Throne Room, Altar of Plagues, and, indeed, Liturgy, who approach the black metal aesthetic obliquely, using its sounds to wholly different ends. The two sides malign one another as stubborn asses stuck in the past or as hipsters, as the case may be.

Palace of Worms doesn't fit in either camp, but it's far from being an inversion, or a new way of seeing black metal. It draws equally from both sides. It starts at Darkthrone and meets Krallice halfway. It's progressive-minded black metal with a Second Wave ethos. This is nowhere better illustrated than on album closer "Final Moments", which marries early black metal synth intro music to an echo pedal straight out of post-black. "The Scroll of Kimris" pays homage to the early days of black metal, when it drew heavily on death metal riff-writing. "Wounded Pride" puts WITTR into a Scandinavian forest.

Sonically, the guitar tone and playing style is new-school, but much of the songwriting is old-school. There are fast sonic assaults as well as doomy and atmospheric parts. The drums sound huge in the fills, and the vocals are indiscernible rasps. The bass even shines through now and then, making for a black metal sound that doesn't skimp too much on the heavy.

The Verdict: Lifting the Veil is indeed an interesting album. If any record could convince Falloch and Gorgoroth to hold hands, this is it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


  1. Totally irrelevant observation, but that little monster on the cover just looks so cute and adorable.

  2. Wow, this ended up being really good...I like it.