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Venus - Obscured Until Observed review

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Band: Venus
Album: Obscured Until Observed
Release date: November 2023

01. Sons Of Grus
02. The Observatory
03. City Of Nektron
04. Circus Strange
05. Alive
06. Artificially Prolonged Existance
07. Venus Legacy
08. The Arrythmic Pulse Of Universe
09. Subatomic Search For Human Consciousness

Get out your surfboards! It's time to ride the new wave of progressive, technical thrash—or you'll get swept away!

Vektor have had a big impact on me. When I first listened to Terminal Redux, I couldn't bear even listening to the first song. The seemingly sheer wall of noise was impenetrable for me. Yet, there was something about their music that always lured me back to give it another go—until it all finally clicked into place. Being able to enjoy the insane technicality and shrieking vocals opened up my ears to the harsher, extremer side of metal. And, today, Terminal Redux remains among my favorite albums of all time.

Vektor have had a big impact on the modern thrash metal scene as well. With bands like Cryptic Shift, Terminalist, Cryptosis, Paranorm and Hellix coming out of the woodwork these past few years, it's evident that Vektor and their emulators are creating a new wave of progressive, technical, sci-fi thrash metal. And I'm all here for it!

The newest addition to this wave is the Greek duo Venus. While one of the musicians offers a harsh, blackened vocal delivery in the vein of Vektor, the other musician provides clean singing that sounds like that of Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer. This unexpected contrast creates an entertaining dynamic throughout the songs. The listener is alternatingly hit with piercing shrieks and melodic, cleanly sung supporting shouts. For me, personally, I feel simultaneously reminded of the at times hateful, at times anguished style of storytelling on Terminal Redux and the bombastic, epic descent into “Dante's Inferno” on Burnt Offerings. Together, the two vocal styles of Venus evoke a miasma of sensations associated with the cosmos: dread, fear, but also beauty and awe-inspiring majesty.

The guitar-work of the duo is the equally essential element that ensnares and leads the listener along this cosmic path. A variety of engaging playing styles are utilized on Obscured Until Observed. On songs like “City Of Nektron”, Venus present riffs that are fast-paced, but, at the same time, are dripping with so much melody and fun energy. Similarly, “Circus Strange” offers the most rapid riffs and most crazed guitar solos on the album. Another side of the band is heard on the instrumental interlude track “Alive”, which starts with a mellow acoustic guitar riff reminiscent of Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu”, before switching to a more groovy rhythm. The duo's true technical guitar playing prowess is exhibited on the second instrumental track of the album, “The Arrhythmic Pulse Of Universe”. As the cool title suggests, the track is full of wild, highly entertaining and interweaving melodies.

This leads us to the culmination of the album: the 11-minute-long closing track, “Subatomic Search For Human Consciousness”. Despite some flashy riff-work sprinkled throughout the track, Venus focus here on creating an atmospheric journey that patiently progresses at a primarily mid-tempo pace. The lyrics tell of breaking free from this plane of reality, entering the fifth dimension, finding oneself lost in the timeless void, before being born again. This epic tale is effectively presented once again with the supporting clean singing and, ultimately, with a chilling choir. It's an impressive conclusion to the album, but I personally don't find it's the best track on the album.

That title goes to the second track, the eight-minute-long “The Observatory”. This song provides everything that I wish for in a tech/prog thrash song: skillful, lightning-fast guitar playing, catchy rhythm, and harsh yet mesmerizing vocals. Every time I hear that recurring melodic riff that's introduced at the 2:30-minute mark on “The Observatory”, it puts a big smile on my face and inevitably gets stuck in my banging head. The track ends with an unexpected transition to a calm ambience between the 6:30- and 7:30-minute marks, before letting all the instruments rush back in for the closing moments.

In conclusion, on a journey beyond time and space, Venus’s debut full-length album offers one of the most enjoyable thrash records of the year, delivering highly technical guitar-work and an entertaining vocal dynamic. I don't know about you all, but I'm kind of sick and tired of bands replicating ‘80s-style thrash metal in bland, uninspired ways. What the thrash metal scene desperately needs is a new, creative angle. In my opinion, the most promising trajectory is given by this technical, progressive, Vektor-inspired flavor. With bands like Terminalist, Hellix, and Venus showing off their potential, it seems that the future of thrash metal is in safe (and skilled!) hands.

Written on 05.12.2023 by The sign of good music is the ability to both convey and trigger emotion.


Comments: 2   Visited by: 74 users
05.12.2023 - 23:22
Rating: 8

I don't know if I just wasn't paying attention in previous years, but it does really feel like tech/prog thrash came out in force this year: on top of the artists you mentioned, the Epicenter EP also impressed me, and adding in different flavours of thrash from Exmortus, Hellripper, Remission and (arguably) King Gizzard, it's possibly been the strongest year for the genre in quite a while. Terminalist and Venus did it best for me this year though; this album in particular was very intelligent in how it integrated melody in several songs, particularly (as you mentioned) The Observatory and the title track
11.12.2023 - 11:26
Love the songwriting and guitar work, but the drums and harsh vocals keep me from properly enjoying it
Do you think if the heart keeps on shrinking
One day there will be no heart at all?

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