Finally. After all these years, Veni Domine fans finally have in their hands, the album that
many (including those in the band) thought would never see the light of day. My
first exposure to Veni Domine was in 1992. I remember listening to their debut album Fall Babylon Fall every
single morning for months as I got ready to go to school in my junior year of high school. I never got tired
of that disc and ever since then I’ve highly revered every album they have released. Now on Rivel Records, the band releases their fourth full-length disc, IIII: The Album of Labour. Where Fall Babylon Fall was more epic and dramatic, and Material Sanctuary
was brutally heavy and doom influenced, their third offering Spiritual Wasteland traveled a more technical, progressive,
and experimental route. This new offering continues the journey that Spiritual
Wasteland began in the sense that, although the band retains it’s overall identity, they push the envelope of experimentation
while at the same time becoming more accessible with the incorporation of more modern sounds.
Fredrik’s vocal problems over the last
few years really don’t seem to cause much of a problem here. He does seem
somewhat harder to understand, but with that Swedish accent that has always been a little bit of an issue. He still
seems to have a lot of power in his voice, and the passion is over the top at times.
Musically, the band is as impressive as always. The heaviness mixed with the technical proficiency easily sucks the listener into
their world of metal. They also show a great deal of emotion on this disc, as was the case on past efforts. The
opening song "Waiting for the Blood Red Sky" is a very strong opener, and the emotion I just spoke about takes center stage
on the second song "Eli Lema Sabachtani" where you can't help but sing along with the killer chorus. The third track
"Doom of Man" has a cool guitar intro that kinda reminds me of the Stones' song "Gimmie Shelter". The song has a slower
pace, but still packs a punch and graces us with a great guitar solo mid-song. Speaking of intros, the song "The Healer's
Face" started out with guitars that sounded almost P.O.D.-like. Thankfully, Fredrick's vocals and
the bombastic guitars quickly put that similarity to rest. Track number four, "The River of
Life II" actually has a small section of the song about three minutes in that borrows the music from the song "The Chroncile
of the Seven Seals" from their debut album.
Overall, this entire album is full of very strong songs. Although no one song stands
head and shoulders above the others, I do lean towards liking certains songs more than others...namely the songs "Waiting
for the Blood Red Sky", "Eli Lema Sabachtani", "Inner Circle", and "The Healer's Face".
My biggest complaint would be the sometimes “heavy
on the treble” production. The production overall is not bad by any means, but could've been better. Other than that, music, vocals, lyrics, and packaging are terrific. This is an album that took
me a while to get into, but grows stronger with every listen as the songs sink into your soul. I originally
thought the album title was kinda lame, but after digesting this disc over and over, it's very apparent that this was definitely
an "album of labour".
Sanctuary will probably always hold the title as my favorite Veni Domine album, this is an excellent return for the band
and it should undoubtedly please fans that patiently waited all these years. (Review by Matt)