In the metalverse, there is an exceedingly thin line between stereotypes and archetypes when it comes to genre personas. You know the (hyphen-heavy) ones. The bare-chested beer-guzzling wild-eyed thrasher. The smoggy amp-worshipping doomster. The blurry-selfie-in-the-forest bedroom black metallers. And, if you take this latter one step further: the anonymous one-man atmospheric DSBM outfit. In the case of today’s review, this is the intentionally mysterious archetype upon which we land. vide is an enigmatic character, utterly shrouded. All I can report is an affiliation to a variety of other solo projects (All Monsters, Some Dead Bodies, Empty, Anonymous Hands), and what the bio provides: “nobody from the swamps of Louisiana / Texas.” Slim pickings indeed.
But given vide’s absence of character traits, the music is fully allowed to stand on its own two feet. And that is the reason we’re here today. No joke: I receive messages recommending vide at least once a week. After asking followers for their favorite albums of 2019 on the Sleeping Village's instagram, the demo in question was cited as top-tier black metal not once, not twice, but thrice. And while the particular brand of depressive black metal championed by vide on ii is, frankly, far outside my wheelhouse, I too enjoy it--and its predecessor--immensely.
I’m not entirely sure which bands to use by way of comparison, so you’ll have to make do with a description of what this depressive accomplishment sounds like. Anguished, haunting, bleak. Sandpaper raw. The general atmosphere is dark, but not necessarily murky. “Submit To Me,” for example, doesn’t feel buried in the weight of gloom, so much as molded by it. In a similar vein, while the album artwork is overexposed, ii is decidedly not, with a clean production and a real respect for dynamics. Melodies and distinct riffs feature prominently, as do remarkably present drums. For those of you familiar with vide’s previous effort, this release is significantly more heavy on the vocals--which, as one might expect, reflect the raspy tortured strains of a vox violently torn from an unwhole soul. A subtle echo is used to great effect.
Three tracks form the meat of this demo, and are sandwiched between respective intro and outros. While I typically feel as though bookends are superfluous, here they feel necessary to ii’s construction. The outro, entitled “It Just Is,” is particularly stirring--a morose and manipulated choir against a drizzly backdrop. Haunting and reflective, it feels like a natural and fitting conclusion. But the heart of vide's latest are the three tracks proper--”Submit To Me,” “Shadows,” and “These Nightmares.” If we're looking to the masses, fan reception seems to indicate that the latter, with its prominent percussion, meaty opening riff, and general air of fever-dream desperation, is the favorite. It’s a quality track by all counts, and feels like vide’s most outwardly aggressive moment. But the true standout (in this scribe’s uneducated opinion) is the haunting centerpiece. Adopting a doomy post-metal vibe in the midst of the trademark raw and visceral atmospherics, “Shadows” wears near-hypnotic patina, relying heavily on the constant repetition of its strained monotonal chorus. The track recalls the teeth of anxiety lurking in the midst of the fog of depression--an alarmingly accurate depiction, if e'er there was.
vide’s ii is likable for a reason: it feels, unlike some other entries in the teary DSBM pool, utterly uncontrived and wholey heartfelt. From a songwriting perspective, the tracks herein feel like complete pieces rather than simple experiments with atmospheric tropes, and for that reason, the demo possesses a high replay value. If you haven’t heard vide’s work, I highly recommend you spend some time with ii. And then with, say, iii. Or whatever it is this talented anonymous individual cooks up next.
vide - ii was released August 2019 from Jems Label
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.