Monday, June 11, 2018

Album Review: Velvet Viper - Respice Finem

We know nothing, and should always keep that in mind. No matter how much music we listen to, there is always going to be far more we have never heard. Today's experience in humility comes in the form of Velvet Viper, a band that has been around twenty-five years, and whom I had never heard of before sitting down with this album. It goes to show how much luck is involved in any group ever breaking through the noise, since reaching the people who would love your music is a bit like throwing darts in the dark.

Velvet Viper trades in a style of heavy metal that is part traditional, part dramatic, and with a hint of prog. "Shadow Ryche" captures their sound, with a riff that climbs like a spider, a bit of influence from the namesake of the title's spelling, and a chorus with big choirs that drips with dramatic effect. That's when the band is at their best, using the allure of something bigger to heighten their own abilities. The same thing happens in the ten-minute title track. There are sections of basic metal, but there are moments when the choirs kick in that elevate things greatly.

The thing about what Velvet Viper is doing is that this album is a nostalgia bomb, sounding like it was plucked out of 1987. Everything from the guitar tones to the writing style is purely of that era, which means that older metal fans are going to get a kick out of the fist-pumping tracks the band has in store for us. Younger fans who weren't listening to metal in the 80s, like me, will get less out of the experience. I can certainly appreciate what that music had to offer, but having grown up with a different style, it doesn't speak to me the same way it will the generation before me.

For what they're doing, Velvet Viper is good at it. There is much to like about this album, from the perspective of traditional heavy metal. "Respice Finem" is a bit slower, but it sounds quite a bit like classic Queensryche, which means it will appeal to plenty of people. Myself, I've never seen what was so great about them, but that's probably because I think Geoff Tate has always sounded like he inhaled too much helium.

Nevertheless, while Velvet Viper isn't exactly my style, it's a good album that I can recognize for what it is. Sure, there are nits to pick, but let's not dwell on that. "Respice Finem" does a good job of reminding us what the old days of heavy metal were like, and keeping perspective is always important.

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