With their first sign of life VENENUM had quite some impact within the underground. Their self-titled EP were furious 30 minutes of raw death metal combined with eerie melodies and sinister atmosphere taken from black metal. All mixed playfully into a exciting blend, VENENUM displayed a lot of interesting potential. But it should last six years for another release. So “Trance Of Death” is a critically acclaimed album for this year for sure.
Six years are a long period. Especially in this fast times, where many bands want attention and some bands release a new record every two years. But on the other hand: good things need some time to develop. Was “Trance Of Death” worth the waiting? I would say both yes and no.
On the one side VENENUM made a consequent continuation of their already known ingredients. There still are furious eruptions into blasting chaos, some riffs are freaking fast and almost chaotic. There still ist this eerie atmosphere in haunting harmonies. And VENENUM still plays with all their elements, interweaving exzessive solos with harsh blazing parts and some playful variations of the musical themes.
Yet “Trance Of Death” takes their music to another level. Obviously the musicians became fitter on their instruments which allows more tricky parts within the songs. But although there are some challenging variations in speed and rhythmical patterns, VENENUM always use those technical moments to enrich a song and not to end in itself.
I think this progression is best shown in the epic instrumental “Metanoia Journey”. Starting calm it has a steady flow that gets harsher and calmer again, playing with 70s progressive and psychedelic harmonies. It is a showcase for the more evolved melodies VENENUM uses throughout “Trance Of Death”, just compressed into one song.
But on the other hand this is an indicator why this album came a little too late. Although VENENUM had this nice understanding of eerie and haunting harmonies six years ago, there where other bands that evolved into this psychedelic and progressive style at the same time. Bands like Tribulation, Vampire or Morbus Chron took a similar approach but had various output within the last six years.
So there are many moments where VENENUM trigger those reminiscences in me: “This melody sounds a little bit like Vampire”. Or: “This structure is similar to Tribulation on ‘The Formulas Of Death’”. But frankly, those comparisons are not the worst. VENENUM still play their own style between hectic death metal, eerie melodies and blackened atmosphere.
Leaving out all comparisons, “Trance Of Death” contains some great tunes. “The Nature Of The Ground” is catchy song which sticks to the ear. And the “Trance Of Death”-trilogy stands for itself, showing the wide pallet of VENENUM, running from raw blastbeats to beautiful harmonies to psychedelic moments. This three songs would have made an awesome EP for themselves.
In the end, I could understand if someone might be a little bit disappointed by “Trance Of Death”. VENENUM missed the opportunity to surprise with their versatile style as other bands had similar approaches before. But that does not make this debut a bad album. Contrariwise “Trance Of Death” is a really good and intense album with many details to discover. Even after a few spins there are many elements that you might have missed the times before.