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De Lirium's Order is a five-piece technical death metal band hailing from Finland, and though I hadn't heard too much of them before recently, their latest record has attracted quite a bit of attention. Some like it for being heavier, others for the album's fairly high production values. My speculation? I think it's because Veniversum, the band's third full-length release and the subject of this review, is the most focused, dynamic, organised, and downright beautiful album that this band has released thus far. High praise, indeed, so let's share my reasoning!
While they are dubbed as a technical band, don't let that label confuse you; this Finnish metal outfit brings plenty of brilliant melodies, slow and dramatic pieces, and tasteful changes of pace that contribute much more to each track than one would initially expect. In the first song alone, you hear plenty of piano pieces that are more reminiscent of Martin O'Donnel's work with the HALO soundtracks than another band in the metal genre. Even if these short, melodious pieces carry as much gravity as they do brevity, it's almost immediately obvious that the atmosphere of the music has just as much attention put into it as the fantastic high-speed tech-death that De Lirium brings us with Veniversum. The most important part of including atmosphere is that it meshes well; in this case, it not only fits, but contributes so much.
This record isn't a neo-classical piece from a world beyond, however. As I hinted at above, there are plenty of really powerful moments on this record that aren't attributed to the atmosphere. Most of ".44" is a straight kick to the jaw, and the follow-up track "Maximum Sentence" is no bright fluffy unicorn from Judas' fickle stomach, either. The band's guitar-driven approach delivers some terrific riffs and backing in service to the vocals, and the drums build upon the technical wizardry even further by sending each individual riff, tap, and solo off with an appropriate bang. It all comes together with a very desirable finesse that distances the Finnish bastards from their would-be peers, and there's little to compare them to. Every now and then, I'll even hear a Death-inspired jazzy tune (though it sometimes reminds me more of Atheist), and damn, does it sound impeccable.
Judging by my spiel so far, Veniversum has a stellar instrumental aspect and a great attention to detail when it comes to the little things that make up the album's atmosphere. I glanced over the vocals a little bit when I was discussing how well everything meshes together, but they're by no means forgotten. One of the most integral pieces to this mix is De Lirium's vocals, and they're powerful enough to cut swaths through legions of angelic do-gooders; certainly befitting of their genre, and even more deserving of sharing music space with the incredible musicianship displayed within the instrumental work and the atmosphere. Another surprise this record had in store for me was the presence of clean vocals. Both kinds have amazing power and delivery, but the cleans stood out simply because they weren't made a big deal of. The production supports them but doesn't shatter the noise ceiling with them, which is exactly the way this record needed to handle clean vocals. They're great for what they are, and they don't try to be what they aren't - a refreshing change from the masses, just as the rest of the album was. Without a doubt, Veniversum is leagues beyond the band's back-catalogue and an amazingly-powerful record with fantastic structuring and songwriting. This is a must-have release from 2012. Get it. Get it now.
Or forever hold your pieces!
1. "Autistic Savant"
3. "Maximum Sentence"
7. "The Aftermath"