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Yes, you can be smart and melodic - 88%

Triptychondrion, May 2nd, 2017

When it comes to metal, if I could be grateful for just one thing, it would be the rise in popularity of this new wave of old school death metal revivalism that had been chipping away at the pillars upon which rests the ugly edifice of the the technically impossible brutality of the modern era. As one of the many adherents of this movement, and six years after the release of their debut EP, Venenum returned from their occultation with a platter of finely crafted semi melodic death metal in their hands.

After a somber cello intro, The listener is propelled head on into a realm of old school tremolo goodness and melodic riffs, a realm where waves of frantic aggression are punctuated by moments of otherworldly esotericism in a display of the magnificent harmony that can be achieved by those who adroitly strike a balance between the unadulterated aggressiveness of yesterday and the forward thinking maturity of today. Benefiting form a warm production, atmospheric solos float over the carnage below, enriching the scene with a bewildering aura that contrasts prodigiously against the band's mastery of traditional ferociousness. While the music on display here might be relatively simple and fairly melodic in orientation, it never settles for too long in a single place, always shifting from one phase to the next to keep boredom at bay.

With all that said, the most impressive parts of this work are concentrated in the final two tracks. After a surprising detour into a garden of sheer progressive rock bless on the soothing "Trance Of Death Part 2,” Venenum explodes into the orgy of metallic prodigiousness that is "Trance Of Death Part 3”. With all the elements mentioned above coming into full bloom on this epic 14 minutes track, It ends up expressing so high a level of grandiosity as to make the rest of the album sound like a mere prologue to it. Containing a well executed combination of slow and fast passages , a haunting vocal performance, a middle section where orgasmic, prog-like keyboard and guitar solos dance on top of catchy riffs, and a larger than life tremolo outburst toward the end that sounds like a dirge on a race toward the apocalypse, this track is without a doubt the strongest statement made by Venenum to date and a microcosm of the creative spirit of this outstanding band.

Venenum's music might harken back to the days of old, but it remains modernistic in terms of scope and compositional integrity: It's melodic without sacrificing its edge, mature without being pretentious, atmospheric without being repetitive, and complex enough to reward repeated listens.

Highly recommended for newcomers wanting to get into extreme metal, those looking for something smart or artistic that isn't a slab of post god-knows-what castrated idiocy or those who had simply not caught up yet with this (heartily welcomed) trend of death metal revivalism.