Velvet Acid Christ has enjoyed nearly three decades of industrial music infamy, with their recording history dating back to Fate in 1994. One doesn’t stick around for that long without taking a few names along the way, and with their fourteenth and latest effort, Ora Oblivionis, the band has a veritable great outing, with a little bit of everything sprinkled throughout the album’s twelve tracks. Looking for an ambient, atmospheric number? We have that. What about a couple of solid, trippy instrumental tracks? We have that too. A German-sung, Neue Deutsche Härte song? Yup. VAC have shown their staying power in the industrial scene, and this album is a not-so-friendly reminder of that.
“Conviction” starts the album off strong, with its distorted vocals and layers of synths. These give way to “Adventures in Babysitting the Antichrist,” which might be my favorite track of the album. The band plays with the quiet verse/loud chorus dynamic and it just works. “The Bullet Wins” sounds like old-school industrial dance, with breathy female vocals and some disturbing samples interwoven. The unease turns to a plink-y sort of soundscape with “The Colors of My Sadness,” with its equal parts pleasant and dissonant piano melody maintaining the foreground.
“Twist the Knife” introduces distorted guitars into the mix, powering this far more rock-oriented track, while still maintaining some of the signatures of true blue industrial music. “Wrack” is a first for Velvet Acid Christ, as it is sung entirely in German, harkening back to the heyday of Neue Deutsche Härte, the German variety of industrial metal. With its quickened pace to boot, “Wrack” is easily one of the best tracks of the album. “Trash” eases in with a four on the floor beat and a far more chilled brand of darkness, at least until a key change hits midway through the track and introduces guitars into the mix.
“Romero” starts off with a cinematic sort of orchestration, as the tempo comes down a couple of notches. The piano-backed middle section of the song is unnerving and awesome all at once, as this track takes the listener every direction it can in its five and a quarter minute runtime. “Conjuro” adds something I didn’t think I would hear much in any industrial album, much less a Velvet Acid Christ album: acoustic guitar. The melody playing over the percussion is entrancing and dreamlike. It’s all out of left field, but it works for me.
“Cog” picks the tempo back up with a straightforward dance track, though it’s slightly underwhelming for me. “Pill Box” creeps in with a haunting synth melody and the urging of singer Bryan Erickson. It’s another strong track for sure. Finally, the instrumental “Not of This Earth” brings in clean-tone guitars and great instrumentation to close out this treat of an album.
Bryan Erickson and the VAC crew know what they’re doing by now, and Ora Oblivionis is a firm mark on the territory of industrial music. There is hardly a track that falls below the radar, and that fact alone makes this a must-hear for the underground community.
Velvet Acid Christ’s Ora Oblivionis is now available through Amazon and the band’s Bandcamp page.