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Vin de Mia Trix : Live In Kharkiv

An interesting historical retrospective of Vin de Mia Trix's early days.

Heard of Contaminated Tones before? An articulate US-based blog-cum-review site-cum-label that deals with some seriously underground acts. Not so much involved in the Doom world, as it happens (though they were responsible for the tape version of Suffer Yourself's excellent 'Inner Sanctum' demo), but main man Orion's clearly not averse to picking up some of the oddities in our particular field. As with this cassette release of Ukrainian Death/Doom band Vin de Mia Trix recorded in concert in 2010 in, obviously, Kharkiv.

Most of the material is drawn from a concert in the Churchill Club, in the May of that year, which happened to be the first gig of the four-piece lineup which went on to record debut 'Once Hidden From Sight', and, apparently, was also the first live unveiling of the band's trademark distorted bass sound. Atypical Saint Vitus-meets-Candlemass Trad stomper 'S.D.B.D.' comes from a later, December, show.

Live footage, by its very nature, is a little hit-or-miss: even if you have it, there's no guarantee what the quality's going to be like. Fortunately, this is by no means dreadful: basically lifted direct from the same source as the band's self-circulated video recordings, which were taken from right up against the stage, it captures a decent enough sound with not too much interference from either crowd or acoustics. There's just enough rawness and ambience to make it real, but it's definitely at the upper end of what you could expect from an "official bootleg", and perfectly listenable.

What you get is an interesting selection of material that was in process of being developed for the debut ('Grief', 'Silent World', 'Metamorphosis' and 'NCH' - the first and last of these eventually being released under their subtitles), a reprise of 'Nocturne' from 2009's 'El Sueño De La Razón...' EP, and a couple of oddities in the Burzum cover and the aforementioned 'S.D.B.D.'. ('Nocturne', out of interest, contributed the line 'Once hidden from sight' which would become the new album title). Covering 'The Black Spell Of Destruction' might seem a bit of a weird move for a fundamentally Death/Doom band, but the version's a nicely faithful one and slots quite comfortably into the set, hoarse shrieking vocals and all. Other than that, the expected and quite distinctive VdMT mid-tempo mix of clean and harsh vocals, busy, roaming basslines and precise, unfussy guitar leads dominate proceedings.

One of the more useful facets of this particular release, aside from its historical interest, is in providing a counter-argument to some of the more negative reviews I've seen published about 'Once Hidden From Sight' since we covered it here. Those, in my opinion at least, not only rather missed the point of the album, but in labelling it as artsy and overdone, also overlooked that it was not born of a knob-twiddling exercise in indulgent studio obscurity, but a distillation of the sound that was already tried, tested and engaging the band's audiences.

Admittedly, and speaking of historical relevance, the sleeve notes and photos forming the detailed, informative and effective fold-out collage cover do point out the audience for this particular event was not a sizeable one, but the point still stands that the material was being presented live years before it finally found a home on CD. And very recognizably so: though somewhat rough and ready, most of this will be entirely familiar to anyone who has heard the subsequent album. To be fair, I would expect that to be pretty much everyone who might consider purchasing this tape: it isn't the recommended starting-point to engage with the Ukrainians' music, but serves as an entertaining retrospective and complementary release for those who have already found an interest there. On those terms, it may not end up high on many 'essential purchase' lists, but I've enjoyed listening to it enough to rate it well worth the reasonable asking price.

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Reviewer's rating: 7/10


Tracklist :
1. Grief (A Study In Scarlet)
2. Nocturne
3. Silent World
4. The Black Spell Of Destruction (Burzum cover)
5. Metamorphosis
6. NCH (Nowhere Is Here)
7. S.D.B.D.

Duration : Approx. 57 minutes

Visit the Vin de Mia Trix bandpage.

Reviewed on 2015-07-30 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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