Venefica - 'Drowning Soul Syndrome' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     December 26, 2012    
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Progressive Rock converts or fans should embrace this band with open arms.

The Czech Republic may not have any Heavy Metal/Rock history to speak of but that may well change if this fabulous young band make an International breakthrough with this, their second album. The name Venefica, incidentally, is derived from a Roman Sorceress who used drugs, potions and poisons for nefarious reasons, sometimes at the behest of their master.

What lyricist, composer and main guitarist Jaroslav ‘Jeff’ Novak has come up with is a considerably detailed and complicated concept album taking in elements of Killswitch Engage, Dragonforce, Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Avenged Sevenfold, Ark, Nevermore and possibly Alter Bridge at a push. With almost no information on this band, not surprisingly coming from Eastern Europe, it’s little wonder that they’re almost unknown in the West. And what a travesty if that was to remain so.

The album revolves around a guy about to commit suicide by jumping off of a tall building as depicted on the album cover and as he jumps, the story of his life goes through his mind as each song covers an aspect of this, such as a traumatic childhood, alcoholic father, his schizophrenic personality and the manipulative and evil love of his life, Crimson, (the reason he decided to commit suicide) whom he realises, just as he’s about to hit the ground, existed only in his imagination. As I said, a complicated story!

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The fact that this is all written in English by ‘Jeff’ and not his native tongue is remarkable in itself. An opening classical piece is a prelude to the first song, the title track that amongst all the technical musicianship features a rather catchy chorus. Vocalist Radim ‘Ray’ Zatloukal is hard to pin down as he has elements of Slipknot/Stone Sour’s Corey Taylor combined with Creed’s Scott Stapp and Alter Bridge/Slash’s amazing Myles Kennedy but certainly not a clone of any of them. Second guitarist Alexander ‘Sasha’ Zarivnij is as technically gifted as ‘Jeff’ but more old school in his playing whilst bassist Marek ‘Marian’ Jezdik, with probably longer hair than me(!) and drummer Roman ‘Frankie’ Mlynar are so ridiculously talented that they could go off and form a jazz band that would have Chicago city going gaga, and we’re not talking lady!

There is Dragonforce style musicality, great drumming and changing time signatures on ‘Tomorrow Never Comes’. Heavy riffs with Maiden style melodic arpeggios overplayed on top with a sudden Spanish Flamenco guitar interlude before the heavy riffs cut back in, and pounding double bass drumming throughout on ‘Psychotrauma’. The first single ‘Chains’ (already topping the radio charts) has a rhythmic intro with subtle melodic tones, really strong bass lines and kick-ass drumming, plus nice melodic vocal key changes from ‘Ray’. ‘Embrace The Black’ even reminds me of the awesome underrated T-Ride!

As surprises go this is right up there! Any progressive rock convert or fan of any of the bands I’ve compared Venefica to should embrace this band with open arms. So who’s coming to Prague with me then?

Carl Buxton

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