VENI DOMINE – Light
Veni Domine’s new CD nearly slipped through on this side. The Swedish gospel metallers first caught my attention while opening up for Saviour Machine on their debut tour, 2 decades ago. The sophisticated metal empowered by dramatic arrangements and a sinister dark edge, revolves around the charismatic and wide ranged voice of Fredrik Ohlsson Sjöholm. Sjöholm might be the centre of your attention in Veni Domine, but it’s the absolute musical geniality of the Weinesjö brothers making this clock tick so tightly. And don’t let the label ‘gospel’ scare you off, Veni Domine is speaking to us rather than preaching.
“In Memoriam” opens this sonic rollercoaster-ride in melancholic minor. Piano paving the way for the storytelling of Sjöholm who is vocally balancing on shiny bright line between the old grandeur of Geoff Tate and Fates Warning’s Ray Alder, and Eric Clayton’s warm and pretentious dark vibe. His wide range and varied vocal escapades provide are an almost infinite tool to create the sophisticated and theatrical outline for Veni Domine’s epical sagas. The song slowly turns into a doom-ish and gloomy chant, which is taken forward by the skilful polyrhythmic drum shuffles of Thomas Weinesjö and his brother Torbjörn on guitars. The dynamics of their arrangements and outstanding musical interaction make “Light” one of the better releases in the field. “Farewell” breathes the grandeur of classic Queensrÿche albums with hints of the old Kamelot releases, with Roy Kahn on vocals. A ponderous drumbeat propelling it onwards while guitars are firing up and keyboard swirls create extra power. The track is topped off by an amazing and powerful hook and dramatic choirs that might take a lot of fans of their older albums by. Mid section the song shifts shape with jazz-ish musical interaction which even so sudden returns to base.
It is the gift of surprise, which makes “Light” stand out on all accounts. The music is less complicated and the band clearly pushes the envelope in ways of composing. Veni Domine emphasises a more direct approach without discarding their progressive past. The blend on offer is one, which will attract more metalheads from different genres. And VD deserves it!
“Hope” for instance, with its mesmerizing lyrics and dense melancholic atmosphere. “Where the Story Ends” recoups the atmosphere but gets all metallic and progressive on us, with guitars firing on all engines. A fierce riff embedded into a wall of swirling keys suddenly opening the gates towards an eclectic solo, is renewing and fresh. The song grips back to Fates Warning’s (“Perfect Symmetry”) heydays without lacking a unique and very original twist. Again Sjöholm manages to belt an impressive vocalic outburst, intense and powerful. “Last Silence before Eternity” is preceded by the powerful Gregorian chant “Preludium” and hits you like a thunderstorm. Loud riffs and keyboardwirls causing dramatic turmoil in this bedazzling progressive outburst. Tension is to be felt instantly. The thunder dies out in graceful melancholy to be unleashed on a larger scale as the song evolves. Acoustic guitars and tambourine provide an organic underscore, unexpectedly effective. “Hour of Darkness” on the other hand grips back to the bands doom metal past with bewitching slow pace. Again the chorus comes in blazing with full force. It is by far their most melodic track with an ear mingling melody line that nests inside your head upon the first spin of the record. “Waiting” is the semi acoustic traditional rooted in medieval times. The album is closed by a remake of the bands classic “Oh Great City” (9:30). The song is completely rearranged and rebuild with new orchestration, making it a pleasure to rediscover. Colour-wise it is more moving and the production uplifts it to great heights. It is the perfect track to make you fire up the disc over and over again.
Veni Domine manages to surprise me on all accounts with “Light”. The album keeps revealing secrets from the musical spectre with every spin. It’s epical and sophisticated, powerful and progressive, without being pretentious. The refreshingly new approach to their traditional ingredients is what pushes this album forward from the present into the future. Think of Saviour Machine’s dark and tense mood, Candelmass’ powerful doom end the sophisticated progressive ellements of Queensrÿche and old Fates Warning carefully embedded in a brand new metallic jacket. Though this decribtion of Veni Domine’s music is not covering the true assets of their unique sound, it will push you into the right direction of choice. Categorizing the band as melodic doom metal, doesn’t even cover the load. This band needs to be (re)discovered by fans of the above mentioned and all metalheads on the look out for unique bands and sounds.
82 out of 100
Edwin van Hoof