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Venin Noir - In Pieces on the Lunar Soil

Venin Noir -  CD Review
In Pieces on the Lunar Soil

CD Info
Label: Hellion
9 Tracks - 51:05
Language: English
Location: Brazil
Genre: Gothic rock

After a shaky start before recording their first album Rainy Days of October, Venin Noir now had a steady lineup and were ready to tackle their sophomore effort. Before the first album had even been recorded, three members of the group had already departed. Once the replacements were found and the album recorded, the final lineup seemed to match each other well, and their debut release was full of potential. Within the next year, the band whose name means “black poison” were confident enough in their new lineup and their sound to make another album.

The group was gaining a respect among the gothic rock community in their home country of Brazil; they would play gothic festivals on Halloween and a fan club website was started in their honor. They seemed more than ready to give the world some more of their classically flavored gothic style of metal. As a band they earned their respect by proving they could hold their own with more of their illustrious goth-metal counterparts by daring to cover songs like Within Temptation’s “Ice Queen” at their shows. It was obvious that they were a band that one had to stand up and take notice of. It was time for Venin Noir to add on to their budding repertoire of songs, and make good on the promising qualities of their first album.

Hauntingly beautiful pianos and divine choirs singing open the first track, “Better Days Never Come”, the choir singing the title in a teasing, childish sing-song manner. Then the rest of the band come in as the choir becomes strong again. A brief pause before an all-out bombastic jam by the entire band and the choirs. Larissa’s voice comes in; strong, pure, and clear. The choir returns again after some lead vocals, the band matching their intensity. Larissa and Pedro do a duet after a soulful guitar solo. More of the orchestral sound, then some more of the male/female vocal contrast. Larissa’s high note takes the song into its orchestral end. This is my second-favorite song on the album.

“The Wine” starts off with keyboards and drumming, then Larissa’s vocals come in as more futuristic keyboard parts play. Steady and intense guitar playing supports Larissa’s seductive voice as she invites the listener to “come taste the wine”. She does both lead and background vocals in the chorus. In the second verse she kicks into gear with some more high notes and zealous delivery. The song for the most part is mid-tempo; there aren’t really any guitar solos or heavy parts. There is a good guitar part in the middle and some lovely piano work, but Larissa’s voice is the centerpiece here. The pianos help take the song out into a fade.

The third track, “Redemption Through Pain”, starts off with gloomy pianos, and then Larissa’s mournful voice. Her vocals are soft and seemingly barely audible, in comparison to what one knows the strength of her voice can be. Then an elongated keyboard note segues the rest of the band and more orchestral sounds. Larissa’s voice becomes a little stronger now, with some dramatic orchestral parts following shortly thereafter. The rest of the song is basically built on this foundation, of Larissa’s operatic vocals and the majestic orchestral work. Pedro’s voice comes in some time later, a demented whisper in tandem with Larissa’s powerful vocals. The song ends shortly afterwards.

Delicate pianos and steady drumming start off track four “A Letter to a Narrow Allegiance”. Larissa’s voice is equally fragile at first, both her voice and the song building up as they go. Pedro’s voice makes another appearance, he and Larissa going into a short duet. A blazing guitar solo, and then back to the soft pianos. A frantic drum part as Larissa sings, and then another awesome guitar part, ending the song ever so abruptly to the next track.

A fade-in to furious keyboards and pulsating drums introduce the fifth track, “Soothe the Wrath of God”. Larissa’s vocals come in a short time later. A nice high note after the chorus. The pace of the song does not change much overall, it is a little quicker than mid-tempo but not a thrashing metal song. Pedro’s vocals come in at about the midway point, this time a little more growly than usual. So far his voice has been more of a backing vocal and not very strong or noticeable, but not here. Back to the keyboards, and then the drumming ends the song.

Track six, “Waiting on Your Fall”, begins with gorgeous pianos layered over a steady bassline. Larissa’s voice is fragile yet strong. The pianos carry the lead musically, but the dark guitars are not so far in the background that they have relegated their rightful place, giving just that right feel to the song overall. The band builds up a little towards the end, leading to a very nice guitar solo. Pedro comes in with Larissa after this, his voice calm and deep. The song ends on his singing.

A burst of dramatic keyboards, heavy guitars, and commanding drumming kick off “No Meaning”. Larissa’s voice is emotional and dark, taking on a slight lower pitch than usual. The band is all-out rocking on this one! This is my favorite song on the album. A return to Larissa’s higher pitch and Pedro’s low-keyed voice supporting her on the chorus. A brief pause and then the band throws themselves back into their harried jam. A blazing guitar solo to accompany the bombastic atmosphere of the song, and then after the maddening solo, a barely audible pause where Larissa’s voice is heard faintly. Then the band kicks back in, both Pedro and Larissa returning for a vocal. The band continues their fast-paced playing until the end.

The last two songs are part of a saga called The Soil, and track seven, “A View to Yesterday”, is the first part. Harmonious strings are the centerpiece here, with shadowy keyboards supporting this beautiful instrumental piece.

The final track, and part two of The Soil epic, is “Perfect and Cold”. The song fades in to fittingly chilling keyboards, and emotional drumming. Striking orchestral work, and then the steady beat of drums lead into Larissa’s voice, slowly rising to be heard. Each verse she sings is punctuated by the band, leading into awesomely slow heaviness. Her voice is sorrowful as she sings the title of the album within the verses of the song. Midway through the song there is a pause where nothing more is heard but the haunting pianos and Larissa’s pained voice, then the band explodes back on again with punctuated flair. A great bass part here, and from that point the classical and metal elements join together in a dreamy tryst that leads the listener to the end of both song and album.

Overall opinion: Venin Noir has done a great follow-up album, but there are a few minor things to be desired in comparison to the first album. For one, while Larissa has seemingly become more comfortable in her vocals on this work, that can also be a problem. On several songs she keeps the same tempo, not really shifting in range when the emotion of the song might call for it. She has seemed to stay in a place that is safe for her voice, and not experimenting too much. The band also does not seem to be as daring or experimental here as on their first album. Most of the songs are a heavier mid-tempo, but not really all-out metal songs like a couple of heavy tunes on the first album. I do not know if this is because these songs do not quite fit Larissa’s voice as well. But nonetheless, they are still brilliant songs and this album is still a fine piece of work. Needless to say, this is the farthest thing from a “sophomore jinx” that I have ever heard. Aside from those two factors that could have been slightly improved on, this album is top-notch and proves that Venin Noir is a band that could really come into their own, given a couple more albums; and have the ability to gain the same kind of credibility as their more famous goth-metal colleagues, even if not the same mainstream success. It is a shame that this band is not more well-known outside of Brazil, but if they keep putting out good albums like this it will not be long before this changes. If you are new to Venin Noir, this album is a great introduction. If you are new to this genre, I may be more inclined to recommend the first album, as it has more songs that fuse the heaviness of metal with the gentleness of classical music.In Pieces on the Lunar Soil is a good representative of the band’s music and their genre, but it is more for the listeners who knows this genre well and understand the different styles within it. Someone who is completely new to the female-fronted goth-metal scene might better be served well with the band’s first album, in other words. This album by no means sub-par, far from it. Some things I liked more of were of course the choirs and orchestral influences, but also Pedro’s singing is more prominent. He has a very nice voice and is not “scary-sounding” like most of the beauty & beast bands have these days. He can do growls if necessary but his regular singing voice is just as fitting an accompaniment to Larissa than any screaming vocal would be. I would like to see a little more daring and a little more experimentation the next time around, but this album is definitely proof of Venin Noir’s talent and continuing potential to only get better.In Pieces on the Lunar Soil is a stellar album and is definitely keeping me anxious to see what they are going to do next.