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(44 min, IntroMental)
TRACK LIST: 1. New Kingdom 5:31 2. The Unholy One 4:09 3. Worlds of Silence 5:57 4. Take Me Down 4:16 5. Fallen World 6:06 6. Walk On to the Daylight 4:14 7. Candle of Hope 6:14 8. Dear Dead Bride 8:22 LINEUP: Charly Sahona - guitars; keyboards Diego Rapacchietti - drums Lydie Robin - vocals Marc Ferreira - vocals Thomas James - bass Kevin Godfert - keyboards; guitars
Prolusion. Founded in 2000 in France, VENTURIA is actually an international group, featuring musicians from France, United States and Switzerland. "The New Kingdom" is their debut output.
Analysis. The album is 44+ minutes in length and consists of eight tracks, most ranging from 4 to 6 minutes. But while most of the pieces aren't too long, the instrumental arrangements (those developing alongside the vocal lines included) are often so varied that you'll have very little time to dwell on any one theme, the picture changing kaleidoscopically when the band is in free instrumental flight. To unfold the topic, I have to approach to it from another point of view. Although the number of different vocal themes is here lesser than that we meet in the works of Dream Theater for instance, this matter is in most cases well compensated for by the diversity of instrumental canvases. That said, even guitar riffs are never straight, fixed or cyclical; they aren't urged to accentuate vocal lines, but are always mobile, existing independently from any rhythmic foundations. So while the singing of both of Marc Ferreira and Lydie Robin (who normally alternate with each other behind the microphone) has at times an AOR feeling, the overall picture will not remind you of this style even in the vocal sections, not to mention those free of singing, and such remind me most of all of a feast of twists. Charly Sahona is a resourceful guitarist and songwriter, not fearing to deviate from classic Prog-Metal standards, often applying the technique used in Techno Thrash. Kevin Godfert well matches him in all senses, at times entering areas that may seem to be forbidden for any keyboard maneuvers. The rhythm section comprises bassist Thomas James and drummer Diego Rapacchietti, who are tireless in providing off-meter phrasings and intricate stop-to-play movements. You see, I've just sketched the primary style of the album, so in the end, this is a quasi-symphonic Techno Prog-Metal with occasional AOR-like tendencies, which though, exist only in the vocal lines, plus mainly only in those with a calm instrumental background. There are no islands of quietness on the first two songs, New Kingdom and The Unholy One, but I wouldn't say the others miss anything significant in the presence of such. For instance, the next three tracks, Worlds of Silence, Fallen World and Take Me Down, are just a bit less diverse in the final analysis. On the other hand, they are much richer in symphonic colors, delivered by the string synthesizer, acoustic guitar and piano, the latter two instruments becoming an essential part of the music, beginning with the first of these. I am astonished at the band's technical filigree, though above all at their ability to put plenty of different themes into the short-format songs, which results in a specifically tight, dynamic and, at the same time, highly saturated sound. In this respect, the only exception would be the sixth track, Walk On to the Daylight, which is a ballad whose sound evolves from melodic to heavy. But while this song is instantly accessible, it is far from being ordinary. There is a splendid acoustic guitar solo that runs all through it in either a bluesy or symphonic key. All in all, there are no dead-end tracks in this "New Kingdom", but the last (and the longest) two are especially dear to my progressive nature, partly because none features repetitions. Filled with speedy intricate maneuvers, Candle of Hope is in many ways kindred to the first two tracks, but is much richer in symphonic shades and is also strongly flavored with the folk tunes widespread on the Balkan Peninsula, plus there are plenty of wonderful piano- and string-driven arrangements, which are typical of the remaining song as well. Dear Dead Bride is multi-sectional in construction; a genuine suite embracing all directions mapped out on the previous tracks, at times in conjunction with elements of Classical music (which is what I would call Orchestral Prog-Metal).
Conclusion. While the style that Venturia play in isn't something stunningly new, their vision of music is unquestionably original. No one else's creation knocked at my memory's door while I listened to "The New Kingdom" - which is indeed a new kingdom, in a way. Most if not all of those who like Progressive Metal should find this CD worthy of their attention.
VM: June 22, 2006
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