Veni Domine - 23:59
After the long agonizing seven year wait between Spiritual Wasteland and IIII: The Album of Labour, this newest offering from Veni Domine has thankfully taken less than 2 years to reach the ears of their fans. Most of us thought that this band was over and done with a few years ago and now with 2 releases in such a little time and another one in the works already, it seems like this band still has plenty of life left in them.
For those of you who have stuck it out with this band ever since the days of Fall Babylon Fall, you know that the band's style has drifted quite a ways from their early days. The days of crushing, epic doom metal with vocals in the stratosphere has slowly evolved into a more experimental, more melodic, more progressive, and somewhat harder to digest metal style. There are still the heavy and technical guitars and plenty of doom and gothic elements, but this beast is much displaced from their past. Long time fans will have no problem recognizing who this is, but an open mind is needed if you want to continue following down the path the band is leading us.
Let's just put it this way...if you had a incredibly hard time going from Material Sanctuary to Spiritual Wasteland, let me warn you that the jump from IIII: The Album of Labour to 23:59 is almost as drastic in my opinion. While the sound of the band is still very heavy at times, it's more in short spurts. They tend to have heavier choruses while the verses are mellower and tend to wander more. Almost like they are stretching, or trying to breathe more....or maybe trying to explore the confines of the song more. It's like they have a general idea of where they want the song to go, but it's not written in stone, so they are able to probe more into the depths of wherever the song is leading them. This kind of songwriting was apparent on the last two discs, but is taken even more in that direction on this new release. The songs tend to incorporate many more elements of melancholy guitars, haunting keys, electronica, soft guitar picking, and even some bluesy characteristics. Also, when you compare the early albums to this disc, the sound of this one is much less "full" in my opinion. I think this has to do partially with the frequent shifting between heavy and mellower sounds and also just the evolving vocal style of Fredrik Sjöholm, which while still more powerful than the huge majority of vocalists out there, is not what it once was. He sings in a much more deliberate and even lower range than he ever has in the past, which gives the songs a much different feel. This is not to say that he doesn't belt it like the old days, but because of his vocal problems a few years ago, he's had to adjust his delivery based on his current limitations. By the way...this lack of fullness is not necessarily a bad thing, but just an observation.
As for everything else, the packaging is nice but somewhat plain. Production isn't their best, but is still listenable and nothing to really complain about. And the lyrics are quality as always....although some songs I'm not quite sure where they are coming from. But then other songs like "Burdens" and "Brothers" are really well-written and moving.
To tell you the truth, this has been a difficult album to listen to and nail down how I feel. It definitely is not one you can totally grasp on one listen. However, with repeated listens I can wholeheartedly say I have really enjoyed this disc. Fans who are looking for a repeat of the earlier albums will not find much to latch onto here. However, if you've stuck with the band through all their changes, this is an album that I most certainly think you will enjoy. Is it my favorite VD disc? No...I don't think Material Sanctuary will ever give up that honor. But this is a band that is constantly showing that they can adapt and change and still create fantastic metal no matter how much they stray from their original starting point. Not many bands have tried that and truly succeeded.
Review By: Matt Morrow
Label: MCM Music
Total Songs: 11
Total Time: 51:48
Tracklisting: 1. Like I'm Crucified, 2. Shine, 3. Patience, Receive, 4. Electrical Heaven, 5. Valley of the Visions, 6. Living Sequence, 7. Burdens, 8. Die Another Day, 9. Brothers, 10. Hyper Sober Nature, 11. The Frozen.
Best Songs: Tracks 5, 7, 8, & 11.
Band Lineup: Fredrik Sjöholm - Vocals, Thomas Weinesjö - Drums, Gabriel Ingemarson - Bass, Mats Lidbrandt - Keys, Torbjörn Weinesjö - Guitars & Backing Vocals.
Band Website: http://www.venidomine.com