The Swedes of VENI DOMINE never have been a very accessible band, mixing Progressive and Doom Metal together, releasing two stellar albums with “Fall Babylon Fall” and “Material Sanctuary” before taking a dive with “Spiritual Wasteland” and subsequent meanderings into more avant-gardistic and less accessible regions, which made it a) clear that they did not give a damn about what was the musical flavour of the day, but also b) hard for listeners to gain access. Throughout the years they had to withstand many hardships through illness, personal tragedies, line-up changes and more, showing the resilience of the three main men Fredrik Ohlsson and the Weinesjö brothers Torbjörn and Thomas.
“Tongues” is their sixth album by now and will they continue to polarize the masses and keep on walking down their path, as hard to describe or digest as it may be. Compared to their early works the progressive factor is way higher, while having reduced the Doom Metal influence (which in my opinion had made the first two albums so special), while at the same time incorporating a bit more of these roots than the last three albums before, trying to find a middle-way. So the CD seems a bit like a mix of what they have created so far, bulky Prog tracks such as “You Leave Me Cold”, which will require a lot of attention and patience, as well as the beautiful balladesque piece “Bless The Pain” or songs that remind me more of their early works like “The Bell Of A Thousand Years” or the 16-minute mammoth title track, which takes us on a journey through emotional pain and outbursts, encompassing all the experiences the band had to go through during the 17 (!) years of their existence, including a viscous Doom riff straight from the BLACK SABBATH school of gloom as well as monks’ choirs (some of the most powerful choirs you will find anywhere in the world, no matter what you think about religions).
As you can see, VENI DOMINE are immensely hard to describe in words, if I tried to simplify things, roughly imagine a mix between mid-era QUEENSRYCHE, a LOT more Prog than they ever were, some Doom and a kind of desperate atmosphere, with the at times pretty extravagant trademark vocals of Fredrik Ohlsson (which will successfully separate the fans from the fair-weather listeners), and you will have a very rough idea of what this band is about, yet at the same time they are far more than I could ever describe, you will have to hear them to form your own opinion.
Ah yes, one more thing, VENI DOMINE never had made a secret about their religious views, incorporating bible quotes as well as lyrics praising the Lord etc, which might further diminish their potential listenership, but as I always say, if bands can sing about burning the cross and worshiping Satan, bands like VENI DOMINE have the right to do the opposite, but consider yourself warned, if you are a bit iffy about these subjects.
As said, “Tongues” will require a lot of patience and attention from the listener, but it is oh so rewarding, if you give that to this CD, showing an outstanding and absolutely original band back on the way towards the top. Just one beef I have with this – why did they abandon their beautiful original logo?
(Online February 16, 2008)