Venturia – Dawn Of A New Era
The fluidity of the French metal scene is truly a remarkable thing. When attempting to describe national styles or stereotypes for metal, most countries are pretty easy to sum up with a few lines. The French, on the other hand, are wildly unpredictable. I’ve summed this up in past reviews, so I won’t dwell upon it. Suffice it to say: Venturia are yet another French band with a rather singular sound, and with their 2012 release Dawn Of A New Era (Trite, I know), the band capitalizes further upon the potential that was on display with 2008’s Hybrid.
Right, let’s air this out right away: Venturia is female-fronted, and we all know my hot-and-cold with female-fronted metal bands. As far as I’m concerned, Lydie Robin is a qualified fit for the band’s musical style, which treads the line between melodic prog and pop-infused heavy metal. On highly melodic numbers like “What If I”, Robin is the star feature, with a catchy chorus worthy of *gasp* mainstream radio play. However, the technicality and heaviness of Charly Sahona’s guitar work places this decidedly within the realm of metal. Additionally, the listener will notice immediately upon launching “Devil In Disguise” that the band’s keyboard work (also courtesy of Sahona) continues to worm its way into their sound subtly but oh-so-effectively. The opening keyboard riff in this song in particular is a perfect example.
Venturia’s music revels in a rich conglomeration of keys, capable vocal work, strong riffing, and electronic effects, all topped off with just enough virtuosic flair to snap your neck to now and again. “A New Dawn Rising” and “What We’re Here For” are good examples of how the band rolls this all up into one tidy package. Some folks won’t care for this, because it’s not firmly trenching itself in either of the two halves of its music, stylistically. Like “lighter” (on the technical side of things) melo-prog bands like Voyager and Spheric Universe Experience however, Venturia seems to associate itself with progressive metal more than anything else, and also has a similar measure of accessibility to it.
Dawn Of A New Era is a quality, hooky album that succeeds in meshing two things that many artists have difficulty in properly combining: pop-influenced female vocals (which can be dull or flat sounding in many bands) and genuinely interesting progressive metal. It’s also got a couple of extremely good bass riffs (particularly prominent and badass in closer “A Land Of Dreams”) that I really dig. For all this, it doesn’t succeed in truly pushing the envelope to “phenomenal”, as many compositions lack a certain climactic resolution that I seek. In addition, I feel that the male supporting vocals are a bit rough, and there’s little to write home about lyrically. This is an improvement from Hybrid, however, and an indication that Venturia is well capable of excelling in the course that they’ve chosen for themselves. Recommended to fans of melodic prog, sleek accessible heavy metal, and those who remain in the femme-metal box, this is very good stuff!
Dan’s Rating: 3.75 out of 5