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Album Review: DAWN OF OUROBOROS Velvet Incandescence

8.5 Reviewer

Two years ago, Dawn of Ouroboros released The Art of Morphology to massive critical acclaim, with the California natives getting props for bringing melodic elements to the normally asymphonic world of black metal. Now, in 2023, they've returned with their sophomore effort, Velvet Incandescence, and they continue to marry elements of the symphonic and the progressive with black metal, resulting in a kinetic sonic boom that's sure to please die-hard metal fans.

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If nothing else, vocalist Chelsea Murphy has range. Murphy goes from the spritely and ethereal ("Velvet Moon") to the raw and downright nasty ("Rise from Disillusion") with little issue. Sonically, too, the album is mixed quite expertly, with seamless transitions between the tracks that gives Velvet incandescence an almost-cinematic feel.

The standout track, of course, is the lugubrious, searing "Testudines," which also served as the third single off the record. And it's the inspiration for this track, in particular, that will blow metal fans away, as Dawn of Ouroboros co-founder (and lead guitarist) Tony Thomas says that the band borrowed from more than a little bit of jazz music when thinking about everything from the song structure to Murphy's delivery.

"The whole band shows off our ability to play at high tempos while keeping our song structure melodic and coherent. Vocally, Chelsea uses several styles to show off her skills. With her use of her signature black metal shrieks, brutal lows, as well as her strong sense of melody with her clean singing. This is one we definitely can’t want to perform live!" he said in a statement about its release.

Yet, for all of its sonic diversity, Dawn of Ouroboros never sounds disjointed or otherwise messy on Velvet Incandescence. Murphy's voice is clean and well-trained, and the band as a unit is tighter than a snare drum (which is, perhaps, unsurprising, given that the band is collectively staffed with heavy metal veterans on the 21st-century scene). And while certainly far from perfect, the band isn't afraid to embrace potential growth.

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Granted, black metal purists will probably find their fair share of criticisms with Velvet Incandescence, as it is surely not a "pure" black metal album. But for those who can put on their headphones and simply enjoy a rockin' good time, Dawn of Ouroboros more than delivers while avoiding the sophomore slump.

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