| Artist: VLE|
CD Title: Book of Illusions: Chapter III
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
In 2003, following up a 2001 debut release that raised many an eyebrow in the underground music community, VLE reemerged with Book of Illusions Chapter III. Longer than the first two chapters combined, this third chapter in VLE's foray into experimental/improvisational territory is almost undeniably the most powerful and emotionally moving of the three works. It also benefits from production that is considerably better than VLE's previous effort as well as stronger, matured songwriting and tighter, more skillful performances.
Once again kicking off with the same recording of "Kano" that graced the beginnings of the other two chapters, this album then turns to material that is generally more guitar-oriented and mainstream than VLE's previous work yet just as interesting if not more so. Often juxtaposing moody ethereal elements with noise and black/gothic metal, this release seems to jump back and forth from beautiful reverb-drenched acoustic guitar-centered numbers with airy vocals to moody metal tracks full of beautiful distorted riffs and scratchy black metal growls. Often, the two worlds melt into each other. For instance, "Crimson" combines a mellow guitar riff, keyboard violin, and melodic lead guitars with a wall of guitar noise and snarling vocals to create an ethereal wall of melodic noise that oozes dark beauty and emotion. Other highlights include the great riff-based metal track "…of Woods & Water", the melancholy acoustic guitar driven "Ancient Song Set Ablaze", the beautifully performed mellow acoustic rhythm/lead guitars and rock chorus of the haunting "Fornever", and the stark, atmospheric keyboard piano-based closer "I Will Return… 822".
Heartwrenching and beautiful, VLE's latest release has managed to surpass all expectations and exceed the project's previous output by leaps and bounds in almost every respect. At times reminiscent of early Black Tape for a Blue Girl or Love Spirals Downwards, at other times falling closer to gothic/black metal territory, Book of Illusions: Chapter III is a solid and emotionally moving album from start to finish. If you like your music moody and emotive, you'd be hard-pressed to come up with another recent ethereal release that will satisfy you more.
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