The debut album from French rockers VENTURIA, “The New Kingdom” is a decent piece of Prog Metal. Its main selling point seems to be the fact that it boasts not one, but two vocalists, a male and a female. While this may seem interesting in theory, the overall effect is mediocre at best.
On its surface, “The New Kingdom” is very classy Prog Metal, boasting slick production and clear-as-glass guitarwork. The riffing is genuinely Prog and can get particularly interesting at times (“The Unholy One”). The keyboard is also well-utilized, helping to give the music an “epic” or “urgent” whenever necessary. Perhaps the best parts of the album are when the keys follow the guitar through a fast-as-light scale run. However, despite all that VENTURIA have going for them, they do have a few flaws.
One thing that really bugs me about VENTURIA (something that usually doesn’t perturb me when the music is as melodic as it is) is the vocals. The female vocalist, Lydie Robin, has a very Christina Aguilera- style voice that’s more than a little too “pop” for my tastes. What’s more, her presence is rendered unnecessary by the male vocalist, Marc Ferreira, whose prissy, very un-metal voice delivers the most effeminate singing I’ve heard since STYX’s Tommy Shaw.
As such, my expectations were high for “Candle Of Hope Through A Night Of Fears”, the instrumental track of the album. Finally, I thought, guitarist Charly Sahona has a chance to shine, because I felt his impromptu scale runs were the most interesting parts of the previous songs, yet in most cases he had to compete against the pop duo of Robin and Ferreira for hearing space. Imagine my disappointment when “Candle Of Hope” revealed itself to be a boring riff-fest devoid of any kind of wild Prog solo (something I was desperately hoping for).
I’m not entirely sure if I can wholeheartedly recommend “The New Kingdom”. The vocals don’t necessarily ruin the overall sound, but I mean, there’s plenty of Prog out there that doesn’t have annoying vocalists. Still, the instruments are solid and while they may not be SYMPHONY X caliber, they have a lot to offer in terms of fancy rhythms and dynamic guitar. So if the whole Pop-meets-Prog thing is up your alley, go for it. Then again, how many people like both Pop and Prog? (Online September 28, 2006)