Velvet Masque was a Melodic Death Metal band from Finland. It raised from the ashes of Torment. Written and posted by Houre Noir.
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Death Of Torment, Rise Of Velvet Masque
After releasing our successful Torment demo tape´97 it was time for big chances and development. This happened in the year 1998.
First of all we had to "let go" our bass player. His heart was no longer with us, but we still felt like we were going through divorce or something. It felt bad, but it had to be done for a sake of rest of the band, and of course for the music itself.
We tried to play with some new bass players, but none of them felt like a right choice. In some point I suggested, that I would become our bass playing vocalist and it was fine for everyone.
Chancing the bands name from Torment to Velvet Masque was very natural process for a couple of reasons:
- Line up chanced
- We wanted a fresh start
- Most of all, our new songs were pretty close to melodic Goteborg metal style. It was time to say goodbye to death metal.
It was pretty obvious, that not all Torments listeners were comfortable with our decisions. They wanted more death metal, but we offered them melodic metal and even with some clean vocals. That was unacceptable! On the other hand, we gained punch of new fans since our new style was a one tiny step closer to mainstream music. But really, we didn’t think about it at all. We just did what we wanted to do. Well, I’m still on that road today.
Before we headed back to Sound Atejee Studio to record first Velvet Masque CD Catharsis, we made this preproduction tape in our rehearsal room. If I recall it right, songs were recorded by our drummer's dad using 8-track MiniDisc Recorder.
The tape was never released, since it´s purpose was mainly to give us some kind of knowledge what our new stuff sounded like. It was also great way to study, if the song structures and arrangements were working or not. If you listen this preproduction tape and the actual Catharsis demo, you will notice, that some slight changes were actually made.
Four songs were choosed to give us the first look to our new musical style. It´s a shame, that fourth song Ceremonial can only be found on this tape.
I still think it was a mistake to drop Ceremonial from the set when we went to record the actual demo. But as always, studio time was highly limited, so tough decisions had to be made. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to start out my own studio at the first place;
No more staring the clock when you are creating rock history!
Personally I think that some of my vocals are better on this tape, especially death metal growlings. I really didn't have enough time in Catharsis sessions to get the best possible performance out of me, but I surely did the best I could in given time.
With this release we added keyboards to Velvet Masque's repertory. It gave us more modern sound, and with it we
kind of filled the shoes (Underground steel caps) of melodic Death Metal band.
The opening track Alien God was recorded and mixed by Jari Holmberg. He is well known from live engineering and touring with lots of bands.
Recording session was a one day project I can remember
very well. We did set up a temporary studio to the music glass of the school of Järnefelt (located in Virkkala, Finland).
Once again we were ready to make rock history, but...
Our band leader and main composer Kimmo was sick that day and his mother wouldn't let him leave the house. Read the last sentence again. Continue when you stop laughing.
So what can you do?
Everything was set up and everybody was waiting for sessions to begin. I called Kimmo several times, but the answer was always the same, "she won't let me leave". For fuck sake!
I had no choice but to quickly start to practice his guitar parts.
Luckily I had changed bass to rhythm guitar earlier, as Harri became our bass player after Catharsis demo was released. The process of adapting new guitar parts was a little bit easier than I first thought. After all we did get pretty decent takes on the tape.
Because the song sounded like a live recording, we decided to add some sounds of the live audience into the final mix.
We did this afterwards on my studio.
Rest of the songs were also recorded and mixed in my studio. It was the first time ever I recorded real acoustic drums.
For me it was very good opportunity to learn, but it turned
out to be fucking epic disaster for the rest of the band!
Production quality of the final mix was not even close to what we and the fans were used to. I think that’s the reason why
the songs didn't get as much attention as they would have deserved. What a shame. I think they are great tracks with lots of fresh ideas. For example, in the chorus of Mental there is one of the best lead guitar melodies I have ever heard!
It really captures the essence of Nordic melancholy.
All the good things must come to an end.
Hidden bodies was the last CD we made as a whole band.
The songs started to flirt more with traditional Gothic Metal,
as the keyboards took the bigger part in the arrangements.
Clean vocals had also much more room to play with.
This demo was made in the same era as the Raining Blooddrops recordings. I guess we, me and Kimmo, kind of influenced each other’s. At least for me, he was always the guy with best guitar leads.
I learned a lot from him, especially about important relationship
between rhythm and lead guitars.
My favorite track on this demo is Hidden Bodies.
I like the vocal rhythms and the overall arrangements of the song.
Once again recording session took place in my studio.
Even though production quality did improve a little
from our previous release Alien God,
it still didn’t have a chance against the Catharsis demo.
After Hidden Bodies was done, we played couple of gigs
before we decided to split-up. We were all young adults now,
living across the country in 3 different cities.
We all were busy working and studying, so it was pretty clear
what was going to happen. For a band like Velvet Masque,
no time for training means an evadable end.
It's the same old story.
Previously Unreleased Masterpieces.
After the official split-up the core group and the original members, Kimmo (guitars), Immu (drums) and me (vocals, bass) gathered together to make this last recording.
These are the five songs that for some reason never made it to
the other Velvet Masque releases. Maybe the timing wasn’t right or something.
As a trio we wanted to go back to our roots, forget the keyboards
and just rock the shit out of these Metal tracks. Just listen
The Omen Of The Falling Leaves. It’s like straight from
the Torment ´97 demo tape, brutal, yet melodic Death Metal.
Still I have to say, that the opening track Margins of Temptation
is my favorite Velvet Masque song of all times.
It’s almost too melodic, but boy ain’t it catchy!
On this recording I started to play bass again and left all
the guitar parts to Kimmo. As you can assume, once again he delivered world class lead melodies. We (me & Immu) made some pretty tide rhythm group arrangements for the songs. Looking back now, I think that on these sessions I finally found my own style of playing bass.
For some reason Swansongs was never released. I just can’t remember (or understand) why. It’s better than Alien God or Hidden Bodies in every aspect. Guess some mysteries will
never be solved.
Anyways, here it is
- after being hidden over a decade -
The World Premiere Of Velvet Masque’s Swansongs!