MEDIA REVIEWS

"In Tranquil Absurd" - Infernal Masquerade Webzine - 93/100

It’s been a while since we get the ‘holy shit’ look after listening to a release coming from an unsigned band, and recently Veneficum’s “In Tranquil Absurd” changed that. With a monumental Symphonic Black Metal sound, this American band managed to blow us away after a couple of songs. And while Veneficum does not have the budget to create the expensive orchestrations that bands like Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir are capable of, they do manage to create an epic orchestral atmosphere using synthesizers.

Before you start thinking that we will talk about another clone band that is just trying to capitalize on what CoF and Dimmu have already done, you should give Veneficum a try and verify for your self that they are a quality band with an imposing sound. With the atmosphere being the main ‘attention grabber’, the band also shows great amount of skills in terms of cohesive songwriting, and ridiculously precise execution.

After the intro song “Expiation”, the band quickly explodes into a full-blown beast with “The Absolute Surrender”. This song features blasting drums, intricate guitar work, hellish screams, and the very well balanced atmospheric elements. The band does not fuck around and since this song sets the pace for a very frenetic release that has very dynamic songs. Since tracks like “Trauma Vortex” and “Desire-Design”, you can see the clear Dimmu Borgir and CoF influences, but you can also notice a blend of other bands like Shade Empire (in their “Sinthetic” area) and Abigail Williams. However, Veneficum manages to craft their own sound and do not feel like a copy of anybody else.

While aggression and instrument-playing skill will only take you so far, the band starts mixing things up exactly when you feel they are getting a bit old. With songs like “In Tranquil Absurd” and “Endurance of Aeons” we get a somewhat different pace, and trippy atmospheric elements that make the songs sound more dynamic and different from the first few. The atmospheric passage “Adjourn Lucidity” is another perfect pace changer and will let the listener regain control of their senses.

As we mentioned before, the drumming is massive and very well mixed in this album. We also get the guitar attacks that are very intricate and vary from the traditional BM riffing to more Melodic Death Metal sections, but always keep things interesting and brutal. The vocals are very powerful and standard for this type of album and get the job done nicely, especially on songs like “Paradox Breed”. Our favorite song has to be “In Return”, due to the experimentation with clean guitars and female vocals, making it one of the most diverse pieces of this album.

Overall, we think that “In Tranquil Absurd” should definitely get Veneficum in the global map. The band’s sound is very massive and features very dynamic songs that will never get boring, showing that the band has enough maturity to craft engaging albums. All musicians know their stuff and on this release they really show it to the max. If you are looking for something with more depth than your average symphonic BM band, look no further, you will be blown away by this release.

"In Tranquil Absurd" - Highwire Daze Webzine

In 2003, Veneficum from Chicago unleashed a classic symphonic metal album entitled Enigma Prognosis that achieved a cult following throughout the world. Released on Forever Underground via Crash Records, it was vastly underrated. The band played several times at the infamous Milwaukee Metalfest and toured across the country a few years ago co-headlining with Los Angeles’ own metal masters Sothis. In time,  Sothis found their way onto Candlelight Records, while nearly 8 years later, Veneficum is a free agent, finally releasing a follow-up effort in the grand DIY tradition.

One factor when encountering In Tranquil Absurd is the fact that founding vocalist and drummer G. Reymond is no longer in the band. A charismatic front man who also did time in the late, great Enforsaken, it usually spells disaster when a band loses one of their main members. Never fear, because new vocalist Josh Taugner is a powerful replacement, spewing out the bone chilling vocals in a darkly triumphant manner.   Taugner brings a sense of accomplishment and finality to the proceedings, and he is clearly a dynamic presence.  (Editor’s Note:  G. Reymond does participate on this album, performing drums, bass, as well as lead vocals on The Absolute Surrender.  This is his final recorded appearance with the band.)

The most compelling reason Veneficum remains a force to be reckoned with is the brilliant keyboard work of the mighty Nix. His artistry remains mesmerizing, weaving through the extreme material creating an atmosphere that is both cosmic and foreboding.

The guitar work is icy and extreme, creating a palette of desolate sound that is thrilling to behold. Maselbas offers up some staggering lead work, while original Veneficum member Mendoz shreds it up big time on rhythm guitar. Evigfrost is the bass goddess bar none, supplying the low end with a fierce sense of conviction. Veneficum 2010 is a powerful entity, as one will see when listening to the 11 tracks featured on In Tranquil Absurd.

With the musical equation of bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth combined with the dark intellectualism of Dissection, Veneficum is all that and more – presenting their own unique take on the extreme black metal arena.  Abstract and absolutely gripping, songs such as The Absolute Surrender, Trauma Vortex and the stellar title cut are ambitious and sweeping in scope. The band goes from a barrage of thunderous noise to gentle melancholic reveries, making for an exhilarating musical experience. There is imagination and intrigue to be found in the various passages. The most amazing thing about the entire magnum opus is the fact that for all the talent and vision Veneficum clearly possesses, the collective remains unsigned and enigmatic to the metal masses at large.

One of the most imaginative Black Metal albums to come out of the States in quite some time, In Tranquil Absurd by Veneficum is required listening – especially for those who think the very best of the genre are required to exclusively hail from across the Atlantic.  Here’s hoping it won’t be another seven years before we once again encounter the venomous sounds of the mighty Veneficum.



“Enigma Prognosis” - DigitalMetal.com


US black metal just never seems to find its way to these ears, and when it does it’s generally the grimier,
warlike stylings of Epoch of Unlight and Forest of Impaled or the raw frozen grimness of Goatwhore and
Leviathan. In the symphonic/atmospheric category, only Vesperian Sorrow has graced these ears with any
true mimicry of the symphonic Nordic sound. So enter Illinois’s Veneficum, with a cosmic take on symphonic
black metal worthy of Norway itself.

Despite the star ward leanings and song titles, the album rarely fully indulges a full on space metal
atmosphere, instead brief samples and snippets of celestial grandeur grace the generally traditional
symphonic black metal visage. The synths/programming is the force of the music, and I’d by lying if I didn’t
say Enthrone Darkness Triumphant era Dimmu Borgir didn’t come across as a major influence, just listen to
the opening of “Existential Stellar Palette”, for an example of true Norwegian atmospherics.
On the whole though, Emperor, Sirius, Arcturus, and Covenant all fight for time as major influences, but
Veneficum, don’t ever come across as a pure clone, with the spatial tones and fairly individual songwriting,
they carry themselves as more ambitious than Dimmu wannabes. What I enjoyed about the album is the
restraint of the cosmic elements, rather than endless beeps/whirrs and buzzing samples, the themes is
carried lyrically with only minimal spacey injections, without a lyric sheet, you will be hard pressed to fathom
the extraterrestrial concepts, as Jason’s synth work is often grounded in familiar epic orchestration rather
than sample/programming overload. Sure, the grandiose overtures convey a vast atmosphere, but it is never
mechanical or robotic, rather wondrous and infinite. The guitar riffs are the expected mix of Norwegian
blastbeats and controlled sections all rendered in suitably pristine fashion from the Finnvox production. The
songs are generally lengthier than usual, most clocking in around between the five and eight minute mark,
and there’s the expected into (“Odd Weather”), and predictable mid album instrumental, atmospheric break
(“Tired Aeons”), but the long songs do tend to drag on somewhat as the album draws to a close. True album
opener starts the album with a big bang, as “Psychological Orb Unrest”, contains all the key components for
a superb epic song: whirling blast beats, grand piano work, and surprisingly admirable solos. The following
songs all retain a high degree of skill and competence, but often wane due to their length. Sometimes the
Dimmu influences rise to the surface a little to thickly as shown at the three minute mark of “Oblivion Sektor”
and the vocals of G.Reymond reverting to the distorted, robotic growl a little too often. Although of a high
quality, the songs don’t have too much different character from each other, instead all consisting of equally
competent amounts of hyperspeed and slower synth laden moments of astral introspection (noticeably “A
New Consciousness”). Apart from the second track, its kind of one of those albums you listen in its entirety
rather than pick out particulars songs.

To Veneficum’s credit, I could actually listen to this on headphones laying out in the yard looking at the night
sky. The band definitely has a solid grasp of their peer’s delivery, but drummer/vocalist G.Reymond, is
sloppy in his fills, but a new drummer has since been added to the lineup. The album definitely peaks
early and levels out, though it is never dull, but 15 minute instrumental closer “Reflections Collapse” never
saw got finished upon anything past the first listen. Still, Veneficum give their European peers a run for
their money, with their overall high standard and solid delivery. The production, songwriting and obvious
influences ultimately add up to a distinctly professional, European sounding and very pleasing black metal
album. A very promising band and debut album.

“Dysphoria” – PIT Magazine – Mark McCauley

Fans of DIMMU BORGIR, ARCTURUS, and KOVENANT take note, it’s time to put your Norse discs aside.
There’s a new kid on the block standing poised to usurp the throne from all your idols; VENEFICUM.
Dysphoria is a disc full of extremely well played, symphonic, technical, black metal. Unlike the previously
mentioned bands, VENEFICUM delivers without sounding contrived anMed clone like. With the vocals
reminding me at times of Fredrik of PARNASSUS \ OCTINOMOS, VENEFICUM wraps it’s debut CD into
one tightly fit package of blackness. It’s truly impressive to hear a band in this genre that does not follow
all the popular, clichéd trends. With structured songs, freezing vocals, and intelligent lyrics, this is surely a
disc that will wake some people up. Hopefully, VENEFICUM will continue on this path.

“Dysphoria” – Metalbite.com

Is Veneficum a future of American Black Metal?
The American Black Metal scene has never had the greatest reputation for being innovative and
groundbreaking. Veneficum is here to change that. Their debut album "Dysphoria" is a 43 minute journey of deep, rich atmosphere, propelled by vicious power. The first track, Grace Overthrown' is a great introduction to what Veneficum has to offer. Blazing, yet memorable guitar riffs drive the music and well-played keyboards don't take anything away from the power and dark feeling of the music but rather enhance the intensity of the track.
The second track, 'A Releasement Black Aura' starts out with a surreal keyboard intro and top notch double bass
drumming from Nacht. It then builds upon itself with one epic section after another, then speeding up into a frenzy, and then effortlessly slowing back down and ending the song on a somber note. The drumming on this track is really tight, with an abundance of creative tempos and fills. "Twisted Emotional Silence' initially gives the feeling of Dimmu Borgir's "Enthrone Darkness Triumphant" era, but than launches into a full scale assault, before morphing into a haunting mid-section. Mendoz and Ceja's guitar work really stand out on this track; both play with lightning fast speed and precision. Antarktis' keyboard talents really shine through on this song. He is good on all the songs, but this one is truly amazing. The last true song on the album 'The Manifestation Nocturne' is the stand out track to me. Everything on this track mixes together so well, creating a massively powerful dark atmosphere. Reymond's vocals are in top form on this track, with him showcasing a wide range of styles, from a scathing black metal scream, to slow, doomy death vocals. The song ends on a high note with a beautiful guitar solo as the album fades out.

This is an excellent album, through and through. This band incorporates so many different influences, but doesn't come off sounding like a rip off of anyone else. Bottom Line: Whether your into fast, evil black metal, or the more symphonic stuff, this album will satisfy your black metal cravings. The artwork and packaging is also very well put together by the band. The production is perfect with each instrument clearly audible and powerful. The only complaint I have with this album is that it's too damn short! Only four really good songs and a great keyboard outro! Despite this, it is still worth every penny.