Vin de Mia Trix - _Once Hidden From Sight_
(Solitude Productions / Hypnotic Dirge Records, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (7 out of 10)
This album is a co-operation, joint venture of sorts or a co-production if you will, between Canadian Hypnotic Dirge Records and Russian Solitude Productions, whereas the band Vin de Mia Trix originates from The Ukraine, and from whom _Once Hidden From Sight_ is a first full-length recording.

The band mixes a plethora of lyrical themes and languages, from English to French to Sanskrit, apparently bearing some spiritual / philosophical esoteric agenda of sorts; the lyrics are thoughtful, thought-provoking and show a heightened mastery of the English language. The album spans over an hour's worth of music, and like the Yin and Yang insinuating cover art, the music captured in this album is pretty much the very same thing: briefly heavy and robust, and suddenly maneuvres itself in 180 degrees, transfiguring into being totally neoclassical and laid-back in essence.

It opens with engaging high-pitched, tremolo-heavy repetitive riffage and a certain guitar tone that could have been a take on My Dying Bride's "Sear Me MCMXCIII " (from the _Turn Loose the Swans_ album), but then, after a minute or so, it goes separate ways, delivering a sort of unorthodox doom/death metal involving some clear, deep and occasionally somewhat tortured baritone-like singing and a couple of piano interludes. However, the My Dying Bride signature is ever present, hovering like a ghost above the atmosphere and the riffs.

Vin de Mia Trix are capable musicians, bearing a somewhat individualistic, if not singular, message to the doom-tinged death metal niche; by no means are they the heralds of an aesthetic revolution, but they most certainly bring something fresh to the table.

The songwriting is intelligent and the instruments are well handled; the musical / classical academic education of at least some of the group is well pronounced and conveyed throughout the recording.

High-pitched introductions and suspense-building melodies usually meet every metallic track, and both song openings and the body of each song excel in highlighting some complex rhythms and intricate drum work, as well as a very dominant bass guitar that pushes the plodding openers to the edge of their contemplative tranquillity and down into the turmoil of the heavier death metal moments -- a free fall of brutality versus finesse.

Some of the riffs are extremely potent, as well as the growling vocals, however as soon as the pace picks up, the band decide to screw with the dynamics and offer sort of an intra-ballad within each song and in a way ruin the expressive powers of good old brutality and dense atmosphere, as soon as they dawn upon the listener.

It seems as if the song openings and the clear-sung lamented intermissions from the general metallic sound get to be highlighted more than the actual metal ingredient, what ultimately results in a recording with very strange dynamic attributes and a sense that the band go to lengths in order to show off their classical education and musical knowledge at the cost of losing the momentum and power they worked so hard to engineer.

When the album finishes, the listener is left with a question mark about the happenings within the recording, whether it was a metal album one was listening to or maybe a neoclassical piece with some distorted guitars thrown in.

Although the aforementioned My Dying Bride influence is all over the place, Vin de Mia Trix don't incorporate the more laid-back, non-metallic parts as seamlessly well into their death metal as My Dying Bride did on their early recordings and unlike the former, Vin de Mia Trix's music hence sounds a tad disjointed and less intense or dark.

Nevertheless, _Once Hidden From Sight_ is a well-rounded, highly professional and interesting an album whose qualities abound, showcasing a super intelligent group of musicians who might have been too ambitious and too pretentious for their own good, in their effort to prove something to someone; it's an eclectic recording with many positive points, mainly in the songwriting department as well as in its sophistication factor, but unfortunately it also suffers from the band's undying ability to nip every good metallic riff in the bud when they see one.

_Once Hidden From Sight_ is thinking man's doom-oriented death metal with an added value and an intellectual edge, most suitable for fans of My Dying Bride with a twist, but neither as metallic nor monolithic as the latter; My Dying Bride lite, anyone?


(article published 2/3/2014)

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