Herodias - _Dance of the Seven Veils_
(Independent, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (8 out of 10)
Without doing any actual research to support this wildly irresponsible claim, I'll posit that the metal world most frequently references three major literary sources: H. P. Lovecraft, J. R. R. Tolkien, and God. As their texts continue to be plundered for evil-sounding band names and brutal song narratives, the wealth of available material slowly thins, and unfortunately no further work is forthcoming, since all the above authors are dead. Yet now whole historo-mythical families have gotten into the extreme music game. Baby-killer Herod got a Buffalo band named after him (I heard one of their songs; it was enough), his descendent Salome lends her name to a soul-scouring VA noise-doom band, and now Salome's mother bestows her name on a funeral doom project out of New York. It seems unlikely that their Jew-gnawing dog Scruffius Pilate will wind up titling a Midwestern deathcore outfit, but who can tell what the future will bring?

As any good funeral dirge should, _Dance of the Seven Veils_ asks (early and often): how slow can you go? The subgenre's strength has never been its breathtaking technical achievements but its emotional prowess in plumbing the depths and many forms of human tragedy. _Dance_ performs its duties brilliantly, due in no small part to Kristina Rocco's superior vocal performance throughout the record. Her spectacular soprano mourns over the ringing low-end piano melodies, never sounding shy (even during the downcast quiet parts) and never waxing more theatrical than the moment calls for. Rocco's husband, Michael, rounds out the line-up with his injection of haunted left-field sound edits, shuddering guitar distortion, plodding beats, and buried whisper-screams. His wailing guitar leads complement the bassy buzzing and Kristina's radiant vocal harmonies. _Dance_ is certainly dark, but the fervent hope of light lives deep in each shadow.

Norway's Funeral wrought a similar marriage of bleak doom and womanly operatic singing. Short-lived Maryland project Half Makeshift constructed bleak drone experiments out of the same (non-vocal) raw materials. Virgin Black rendered a grim requiem Mass with related artistic intentions. But nothing else sounds quite like Herodias.

Contact: http://www.cultofherodias.com/

(article published 1/7/2012)

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