Review by James Slone

Book of Illusions: Chapter III

Book of Illusions Chapter III is the latest part in the ongoing VLE adventure, a musical exploration with an increasingly polished and sophisticated approach to the outlying ambient territory of metal.  The hypnotic trance of Burzum is joined with shoegaze guitar noise, layered neo-folk, and drifting beats.  One shouldn't be put off by the limited distribution or minimalist layout.  The music here is impossibly rich; warm, soothing, a blanket of noise with a mellow production complimentary to the designs of the music, which aims to subdue and seduce the listener.  In a way Chapter III points at a new direction for metal music, one of textured comfort, minimalist and thoughtful, a gray zone between Slowdive and Summoning.  If doom metal calls on the listener to retreat into melancholy, VLE calls on gentle introspection without all the melodramatic fuss.  The sound is simple to describe but impossible to express.  The beats are repetitive, the compositions simple but layered, the guitar sound ranging from clean and crisp to muddy, finding a delicate balance between a vacuum cleaner and cascading strumming.  Subdued growls and clean effeminate voices call out with elegiac solemnity or, more often than not, are simply content to hide in the music.  It's simple and doesn't demand much but patience and empathy. Icily pretty and gradually enticing, Chapter III is a nearly revolutionary act in metal.  The blockhead pretensions are simply left on the cutting room floor and the listener is left with ambient metal that is simply elegant.  No theatricality, no bombast, just something frail and reassuringly beautiful.