IIII: The Album of Labour
Veni Domine - IIII: The Album of Labour 2005 Rivel Records
|Track Listing1. "Waiting for the bloodred sky"|
2. "Eli lema sabachtani"
3. "Doom of man"
4. "River of life II"
5. "Inner circle"
6. "Deep down under"
7. "The healing the mystery"
8. "River of life IIII"
9. "Voice of creation"
10. "Healers face"
11. "River of life I"
Ok, I’m going to be completely honest here. Historically speaking, Christian metal has never really impressed me much at all. I’m not trying to sound like some uber-satanic Deicide fan or “more metal than thou” AOL chat room elitist at all. But for the most part, I find a lot of these bands to be a bit on the cheesy side or it’s just plain ol’ boring and uninspired music that tries to overlook their own mediocrity by pushing a “faithful” message to the forefront. (i.e. Stryper, Narnia, etc.) Come on, now tell me that Dream Evil’s “Heavy Metal Jesus” isn’t the utter epitome of cheese?
Now that being said, there have been some bands in the past that I like that just happen to be lumped into this category. Most of these bands that create this material aren’t pushy or obnoxious about their religious orientation, thus making it a more enjoyable listening experience for me. The early Trouble albums are absolutely crushing and haunting, while having a firmly Christian foundation (who ironically enough, toured with Slayer at one point). Paramecium’s "Exhumed from the Earth" is a lost doom/death metal classic with an extremely HEAVY amount of Christian lyrical content. Another one of those quality groups within this genre is Sweden’s criminally overlooked Christian doom metal act, Veni Domine.
Veni Domine literally bridges the gap between Candlemass and Queensryche, creating a progressive doom sort of feel within their music. Their album “Material Sanctuary” (1994) was my first exposure to this band, and I was completely blown away by this album! With haunting epic keyboards, heavy Candlemass-like music, and the soaring Geoff Tate-esque vocals of Fredrik Ohlsson, this band could have taken over the world with this album. However, due to the band being on a relatively small label with limited distribution (especially in America, I had to buy it as an import!) and such long periods between releases, it would be the only album I’d own from them and other than a few low quality mp3’s of their next album, “Spiritual Wasteland”, it was the only thing I’d hear from them for almost eight years…until now.
I was absolutely overjoyed to see when their new album, “IIII – The Album of Labour” showed in my mailbox last week. At first listen (immediately starting with the first track,“Waiting for a Blood Red Sky"), I was a little thrown off by the slight change within their musicial styles. While Veni Domine is still rooted in their core sound, it seems that the band progressed to a slightly looser guitar playing style with a more stripped down approach to their composition of the music. Also, the keyboards also seem to take more of a supporting role this time. This is unlike their previous material which was so massively grandiose and unbelievably tight. This album reminds me somewhat of Queensryche’s change of sound on the last few albums, except it’s slightly better executed.
However, after giving the album another listen all the way through, I realized that this is still a decent release, even though it doesn’t match the sheer mastery of their previous works. The song “Eli Lema Sabachtani,” starts off with a sloppy, noisy, main guitar riff, and then builds up to a massively catchy Candlemass-like chorus. The next song, “Doom of Man”, absolutely screams out their Queensryche influence with the delayed sounding guitar part (think “Della Brown”) and accompanied by an extreme Geoff Tate-like vocal delivery. This song starts off fairly unimpressively; however, it’s only when a couple minutes into the song when they pull out a strong chorus, elevating this song out of mediocrity. For the most part this is the template for the entire album, with mostly mediocre or emptier main parts but a decent pay-off when the band climaxes within the song, mainly during the choruses.
At times the songs on this album can get a bit monotonous and I really feel that this band is definitely better in their heavier moments. Fredrik’s Ohlsson’s vocal performance (which is extremely well done and it’s definitely the strongest point on this disc) would definitely make fans of Queensryche and Fates Warning eat this album up. When things are clicking right for this band, they can be absolutely devastating (i.e. “Waiting for a Blood Red Sky,” “The Inner Circle,” and “Voice of Creation”). I just wish they would bring more of epic doom feeling with a little more on the technical aspect with their music again. All in all this is a good album, but when comparing it to their previous releases, it definitely falls short of my expectations.
(6 out of 10)