Trance of Death
Sepulchral Voice Records (World)
The Ajna Offensive (North America)
17 March 2017
Written by Ryan Brassard
VENENUM originally hit my radar back in 2011, when I picked up their debut EP on vinyl after hearing a few tracks when it went live earlier in the year. Five years later, the Germany-based Death Metal outfit finally unleashes their first proper full-length, Trance of Death. Set for a March 17th release, this record demands attention for its composition, musicianship, and depraved atmosphere.
Partnered with the always-great Ajna Offensive for North American distribution, Germany’s Sepulchral Voice Records has a great back catalog, including releases from Teitanblood, Grave Miasma and Necros Christos. VENENUM fits right in with the label’s affinity toward bands with unique touches to their sound, yet anchored in all things extreme. Trance of Death is no exception, and although mentioned as a Death Metal record, has so much more to offer…from superbly crafted instrumentals, to ridiculous pace changes, to innovative melodies…it is an extreme dose of obscurity that ventures off the traditional path of Death Metal.
VENENUM create a dark and dismal atmosphere by using layer upon layer of compositional perfection in constructing each song on this 50-plus minute monolith of a release. Trance of Death contains some of the same elements as a concept album; woven into each track are the themes of journey and apocalyptic despair. That said, the underpinning of German Death Metal is very much present. Darkness, despair, heavy, hellish riffs, and overlaid soloing are ever so present.
The opening instrumental “Entrance” is dark, grim, and helps set the stage for the metaphorical excursion that Trance of Death will take you on. Following the intro, “Merging Nebular Drapes” launches into a fast-paced crushing riff, with some haunting breakdowns, and just an all-around memorable song.
The next two tracks, “The Nature of the Ground” and “Cold Threat,” are middle anchors in the journey. Both are heavy as hell, with a nod to Australia’s tremendous black thrash scene. Great guitar work, breakdowns, and tremolo picking are constants throughout both tracks. Despite the opus of this album being the last track (read below), these two tracks are gems in their own right.
The final offering is the title track, delivered in three parts. “Part I: Reflections” is a faster paced, blackened dose of evil and despair – perhaps the most clear insight into VENENUM’s vision for the album. “Part II: Metanola Journey” is a 5-plus minute serenade to the shadows, with a subtle intermediary melody. “Part III: There are Other Worlds...” begins with the same subtlety heard in “Part II,” but with a much more progressive feel. What follows is a 14-minute epic featuring, doomy soundscapes, elemental breakdowns, and some crushing death metal woven into the track’s fabric.
Trance of Death deserves your attention – I would recommend checking out the band’s debut EP, and definitely adding this album to your list of those to check out for 2017.