Even good bands sometimes fly under the radar, and that certainly was the case with Veil of Ashes. The one and only VOA album I ever saw in Christian bookstores was Pain*, an album that had a steady rotation in my collection for years. (*Well I do remember seeing Mr. Sunshine, but the band had shortened it’s name to Veil and I didn’t make the connection. My bad).
Knottheads.com provides the best Internet resource for a complete list of VOA releases on its Blonde Vinyl memorial page, so you can check that out if you’d like. Pain wasn’t the first material the band had committed to tape, but it was the best effort to date – with the added credibility of Gene Eugene, Derri Daughtery and Steve Hindalong.
Pain kicked off with a cover of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are a Changin‘. Somewhat risky, perhaps, but it worked. VOA gave the song a dark, moody feel thanks to Sean Doty’s unmistakable voice. The organ sound may be where some critics draw comparisons to The Doors of all bands, but I don’t know. That seems like a stretch. I tend to think VOA had a sound of its own, with shades of ’80s new wave (The Cure) and alternative rock (The Cult).
After the Dylan cover, Pain wades into a healthy dose of the band’s original material beginning with And They Call it Love. Lyrically, there’s lots of meat on the bone, kind of reminiscent of what you’d expect from Undercover. It’s also a solid song. The third track, Without Eyes, was the one that gave the band some notoriety for its radio play, and again, it’s really good…maybe the best on the album. But Corpse is equally brilliant, while Suicide oozes emotion, as a song with that title should. She is a beautiful ballad about grace. Take My Hand, which begins to the wail of guitar, is raw, gritty song that’s sung from the point of view of the devil. Good stuff.
I still like the groove on The Cross Was His Own, especially the harmonica. It has a nice, light-hearted feel to it. The record closes with Come Unto Me, which showcases Doty’s vocal range and a great mix of a nice soaring bass line, floating keys, and U2-like guitar work – combined with a driving beat in the chorus. A real great arrangement. Yup, Pain remains a truly great and truly unique record. Heck, I was still in high school when I bought the CD, so it has passed the test of time with flying colours.
- Times They Are A-Changin’
- And They Call It Love
- Without Eyes
- Take My Hand
- Cross Was His Own
- Hide Me
- Come Unto Me
*Be sure to check out their most recent effort, Eternal Teenage Angst: