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Venin Noir - Rainy Days of October

Venin Noir -  CD Review
Rainy Days of October

CD Info
Label: Hellion
8 Tracks - 49:17
Language: English
Location: Brazil
Genre: Gothic rock

In a day and age where female-fronted rock music has seemingly exploded onto the scene from out of nowhere, it is easy for copycats and clones to come out of the woodwork left and right. With the success of bands like Lacuna Coil, Nightwish, and Within Temptation, we have seen a massive outpouring of similar bands, so many of them just generic versions of the originators. Some of these clones have done so well that for some people, they are seen as the originators of the genre without any knowledge that there has been a scene of this kind happening in other parts of the world for many years. So when a band like Brazil’s Venin Noir comes onto the picture, it might be easy for some to write them off as well as another clone.

Venin Noir’s roots began in Brazil in mid-2001, when two musician friends decided to fuse their love of metal music with classical, after hearing the operatic voice of one Larissa Frade. A band was formed shortly thereafter and work would begin on a new album. But the road on which they began their musical journey was fraught with bumps along the way. Before the band would even begin to lay down tracks for what would becomeRainy Days of October, they would lose three members along the way; each one leaving for either personal reasons, prior obligations, or other bands. The making of the album was riddled with difficulties because of this, but in the end, the album title would prove to be prophetic, as it would not see the light of day until October of 2002. The band insists that it was a coincidence, but as the saying goes, some things are just meant to be.

The opening track, “Rainy Day of October”, heralds in the sound of thunder, rain, and wind blowing. Gentle pianos slowly make their way into the fray, a haunting yet melodic instrumental piece. The piano ends dramatically with the sound of rain, making way to the second track…

A burst of drums and guitar carry the calm piano into “Naughty Elegy”, and the sweet soprano of Larissa Frade is heard for the first time. Commanding guitars and drums support the lilting piano and her dulcet voice, giving it a contrast between assertiveness and softness. It is clear that as a singer, she can hold her own with the likes of Tarja Turunen or Vibeke Stene by belting out some notes that are more than indicative of this. A bridge into some choir-type singing, then the band gets a little faster. A progressive rock-style keyboard makes a frenzied way into hard-hitting guitars, and back to Larissa’s voice, this time both as the lead and the backing voice. A blistering guitar solo, then back to the frantic keyboards. Another guitar part before bringing it back to the piano and Larissa’s voice. The song ends with a reminder of the album’s title, the sound of wind and rain.

Track three, “Damsel of Grief”, begins with atmospheric keyboards and searing guitars. Again, another song which showcases the heaviness of the band and the softness of Larissa’s voice, making for a harmonious marriage of sound. The song turns most especially heavy in the middle, the band playing as if their life depended on it, as Larissa’s voice becomes more frenetic and impassioned as well. Then the musical madness dies down, and back to the mid-tempo, but not without a fantastic guitar solo. More of Larissa’s singing, and the band playing a little faster before the climactic end.

“Desperanter”, the fourth track, starts out a little slower than the last two, with piano, choir, and Larissa’s voice leading the way. However, the drums, guitar, and bass are not too far behind. The song still keeps a heaviness, but Larissa’s operatic vocals, the choir, and piano are leading the way here. It is not without the powerful drums and heartfelt guitar parts. This song is more of a ballad, however, but so far the band has not really gone all-out “soft”, even within this ballad there is still more than enough proof that they are a metal band. Just because the guitars and drums are taking a backseat does not mean they are resting on their laurels. A passionate guitar solo amidst the orchestral influences of this song assures the listener of this. As the guitar fades, Larissa’s voice returns strong and prominent to bring in the piano and take the song into its fade-out.

The band makes a return to the heavy style by way of ripping guitars and high-pitched singing by Larissa on “Reap the Grand”. As if in a trade-off, the more classical influences are not heard so much here, it is basically much more rock, the guitars leading the song throughout most of it, with the occasional gothic-type keyboard part accompanying. In the middle of the song, the band breaks out into a definite metal jam, complete with maddening drums that stop and go, and lightning-fast guitar parts running alongside. The keyboards join in too, and then Larissa’s voice matches the intensity of the band as her voice builds up to soaring notes. Then the song comes back down and Larissa’s singing becomes more relaxed. Again, guitars fade into creepy keyboard parts, which ultimately fade out and bring the song to its end as well.

Moody keyboards, rhythmic drumming, and tough guitars set the stage for track six, “Buried Alive”. Larissa’s voice comes in gentle and morose as she sings the opening line, “I wish I had been buried alive”. Lovely acoustic guitars and the nice, clean male vocals of guitarist Pedro Santos are faintly in the background. Some great high notes by Larissa in this song. Yet another awesome guitar solo, taking us back to the drums and this time a tinkling piano part. The song pauses briefly, and then an all-out gothic jam brings Larissa’s voice back. Another band jam before the song ends.

Track seven, “A Deeper Grey”, is my favorite song on the album. Movingly beautiful acoustic guitars and Larissa’s soulful voice are the foundation of the track, and it is most definitely a lovely ballad. Some strings come in to round out the emotion. This is where Larissa really shines vocally. The drums come in, and then the electric guitars make an appearance. Once again, however, the rest of the band knows how to hold back when the song calls for it. They are present, but it does not impose on the atmosphere of the song. A wonderful guitar solo that is passionate and emotional, but not heavy. The song then softens some more to bring in the clean male vocals and piano. They both trade off vocally, with Larissa ending their duet with her gorgeous high notes. The band returns once again, Larissa’s voice, and the dark piano parts. Her voice is especially emotional when she sings of having no choice but to say farewell. The band all plays together with the piano emoting the final note.

The final track “Vile Pledge”, begins with the heavy precision of the band along with gloomy piano parts. High notes from Larissa as she sings the line “I foresee your flickering self-obliteration”. Then the mellow male vocals of Pedro Santos come in to contrast the fervor of her voice. The band goes into an all-out rocking jam session, each one playing their guts out, all the while the placid piano carrying them through. More of Larissa’s commanding voice, and more of the spirited jam. Then back again to the chorus of Larissa and Pedro’s duet. Impressive high notes by Larissa, and then she sings the final line of the song “but the rain is gone”, keeping to the constant theme of the album. The piano gently winds the song and the album down.

Overall opinion: For a debut album, this is a most solid piece of work. The band plays as if they have been together for years and are most comfortable with each other’s style. You would never know that this was their first album. Each one is a talented player and this band has a lot of potential. The band has an outstanding knack of knowing just what a particular song calls for, and playing thusly. They do not get all-out aggressive on ballads, nor do they taper down during a song that is obviously heavy. Knowledge like this usually does not come to bands until about their second or third albums, if at all. For fans of this kind of music, this is definitely something for the listener who enjoys bands like Nightwish and Tristania. Likewise, for those same fans who have become rather disappointed in the music of those bands as of late, because of the paring down of the operatic voices or classical influences, a band like Venin Noir may be to your benefit to look more into. In fact, if you are new to this genre or this style of music, Venin Noir is a good place to start and a good barometer of what the rest of the genre is like. There may be other bands that are better or more well-known, but Venin Noir represents this genre well and is also unique in their own way. Unlike some of the more renowned bands, their lyrics are not rooted in fantasy themes or written in old English. They have lyrical themes of their own that basically deal with loss, suffering, and real-life problems. That may be another plus for someone who has not necessarily explored this style of music due to turn-offs about the majority of these bands’ lyrical content. They are a strong sounding band with talent to boot. This debut release is a promising indication of things to come.