Venia - Genesis



You know, when I first saw the logo for Venia, I thought that it was some kind of extreme metal band.  To my surprise, Venia is a melodic power metal band from Finland with a female vocalist.  I guess I was way off in my assumption. 
Venia labels this release a demo and the production quality, while not horrible, suffers somewhat and explains the demo tag a little bit.  While I'd love to hear this band with crystal clear sound, it's not something that bothers me too much here.
I guess the downer right off the bat would be the vocals.  While lead vocalist, Veronica has a good voice, it just doesn't sound like it's utilized to the maximum benefit here.  Her voice sounds somewhat similar to the female vocals found on Exousia's albums.  I feel the same way about Exousia's female singer.  Good voice....but, just doesn't fit right.  There are some songs better than others, but this seems to be the biggest problem the band faces.  I'm not convinced they need to ditch their vocalist, but maybe do some things differently the next time around.  One good thing is...after multiple listens I've actually gotten more used to here vocals, so they don't annoy me quite as much.  On a side note, half of the songs here are sung in English and the other half in Finnish.
Musically, the band sounds pretty good.  There are some nice and tasty riffs played throughout that get my attention.  The band stays heavy throughout, but sometimes even ventures close to a brutally heavy sound.  They also incorporate some guitar solos and some lead work that is reminiscent to some of Saviour Machine's lead guitar playing on Saviour Machine I.
While the opening song is decent, the best material is from song two on.  Track number three, "Tormented Souls" starts off with some crushing guitars before screeching to halt with some soft guitar and soft female vocals (which sound very good on this song).  The song goes through many emotional swings from calmer parts to aggressive parts.  The song ends with some great clean spoken male vocals.  Lyrically the song is excellent as it focuses on the evil in this world and the toll it takes on the souls of man.  One line strikes very strong.  In the first verse the band states: "Hate lives within and it's fed by sin."  However, the song ends very worshipful with the male vocals.  The final lines state, "The Lord sent His only Son/So that he who receives Him need not fear the terrors of this world/Because He is above the world and the battle is already won."  To tell you the truth, all of the lyrics are very well written on this disc.  I only have a promo, so I don't know if they are included in the regular release, but they are posted on the band's website: They even have English translations for all the Finnish songs.
The next song is a fantastic instrumental called "Eternal Sanctuary".  This song combines some mega-fast riffing, double bass, and some cool violins for a killer sound.  It's nice to see bands making instrumental songs that are actually interesting to listen to.  Most are merely skip material.
Next up the song "Taivaassa" (In Heaven) is like a heavy metal worship song.  Very cool.  This song actually has the most Saviour Machine influence.  Don't think the band is gothic by any means, I'm just still referring to some of the lead guitar playing.
While this band needs some work in places, especially the vocals, they show some great promise and they are definitely a band that I would love to hear more from in the future...preferrably with better production.  They've got musical chops and their lyrics writing is top notch.  Just a little fine tuning here and there and you'll have yourself a very high quality band.  (Review by Matt)