|Musical Style: Progressive Doom Metal||Produced By: Torbjorn Weinesjo|
|Record Label: Rivel||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2004||Artist Website: Veni Domine|
|Tracks: 11||Rating: 90%|
|Running Time: 56:42|
Sweden's Veni Domine began the writing process for its fourth full length album The Album Of Labour in 1997 before its previous effort, Spiritual Wasteland, was even released. Several unforeseen delays, however, led to The Album Of Labour not seeing the light of day until 2004. The band started recording in the fall of 2000 but vocalist Fredrik Ohlsson came down with a vocal condition that ended up setting the project back more than a year. Nevertheless, Veni Domine persevered and completed the final mix to The Album Of Labour two and a half years ago; however, problems with the bands label led to its release being postponed even further.
The Album Of Labour finds Veni Domine continuing in the musical vein of its past efforts by backing a combination of doom and progressive metal with its technical songwriting and stellar musicianship. Lead vocalist Fredrik Ohlsson, falling within the high-pitched classic tenor category not unlike Geoff Tate (Queensryche) and Rey Parra (Sacred Warrior), shows no ill effects from the vocal condition in question and, if anything, displays demonstrated maturity in his vocal performance. Torbjorn Weinesjo remains at the top of his game on lead guitar, exhibiting more than enough ability to compete with contemporaries like Eduardo Parronchi (Destra), John Berry (Jacobs Dream) and Karl Groom (Threshold). Moreover, I like how Torbjorn adds an element of blues to his playing on tracks such as "Deep Down Under" and "Healers Face". Bassist Gabriel Ingemarson and drummer Thomas Weinesjo comprise a sound rhythm section.
The production values to The Album Of Labour highlight sonics of an immaculate variety. The albums low end combines heavy but cleanly mixed bass lines with a good crisp drum sound. The rhythm guitar contains the needed edge and distortion and stands alongside a fluid mix of lead guitar.
"Waiting For The Blood Red Sky" gets the album underway with a superlative melody line. Introduced to several seconds of keyboards, a crisp rhythm guitar interwoven with vocal harmonies carries the song forward until it attains an infectious chorus that, with repeated listening, will refuse to leave your head. "Waiting For The Blood Red Sky" comes across in the form of a longing for the second coming:
I’m waiting for the blood red sky
The shining that will light the night
I’m waiting for the quickening
A sign to make it all begin
"Eli Lema Sabachtani" fades in to a distorted rhythm guitar that combines with offbeat vocal effects before gradually advancing through its first verse. Powerfully picking up in pace, the song transitions to an anthem-like chorus highlighted by vocal harmonies. Several seconds of rhythm guitar opens an instrumental passage ending to Torbjorn's fiery guitar solo.
Opening to a brief bass guitar solo, the aptly named "Doom Of Man" slowly plods ahead until the rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix in time to drive a catchy chorus underscored by a touch of double bass. A fluid lead guitar break helps drive a thirty second instrumental passage.
The creative "River Of Life II" draws its lyrics from Revelation 22:6-11. A quietly played guitar line takes the song through its first verse until a choppy riff propels it forward in a stylish manner. Briefly slowing as an acoustic guitar enters the mix, the rhythm guitar returns before interplay takes place between Ohlsson and deep sounding choir-like vocal harmonies stating "Let him" in a foreboding manner.
Beginning to a sublime combination of rhythm guitar and drums, "Inner Circle" slows to a trade off between a punchy bass line and a crisp rhythm guitar as it progresses through its first and second verse. Once the song gains impetus, it culminates for a powerfully delivered chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Torbjorn contributes an immaculate slowly played minute long guitar solo with a slight distorted feel to it.
"Deep Down Under" embarks to a blend of bluesy lead guitar and keyboards reinforced by a heavy duty bass line, the moody atmosphere maintained as a crisp rhythm guitar leads the way through the songs first three verses at a catchy but driving mid-tempo pace. Torbjorn contributes several seconds of bluesy lead guitar work following the songs second verse in addition to closing out its final two minutes with a slowly played guitar solo.
A sweeping keyboard solo initiates "The Healing The Mystery" before a slowly moving guitar line drives its first verse and a crunchy rhythm guitar the second. Subsequent to gaining momentum, the song evenly progresses to an energy-laden chorus resonating an epic feel. I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental passage limited to a few seconds of rhythm guitar. "The Healing The Mystery" talks about hitting rock bottom:
My tears of joy are sad to you
I can’t feel hope like you do
I always pray that the light will stay
To light my soul, my soul is grey
Keyboards hold sway over "River Of Live IV" from front to back that, while placed well forward in the mix, fail to come across overbearing. The keyboards in question combine with a bit of lead guitar to open the song, the lead guitar dropping from the mix as Ohlsson takes over on lead vocals and provides narration from Revelation 22:14-16.
"Voice Of Creation" opens in an upbeat guitar driven fashion before the rhythm guitar drops from the mix, leaving Ingemarson's bass to carry its first verse. After the rhythm guitar returns to evenly take the song through its second verse, it reaches a chorus smoothly accentuated by Ohlsson's soaring vocal delivery. Torbjorn's slowly moving fifty second guitar solo is shored up by a heavy duty bass line.
A catchy blues flavored guitar line impels "The Healers Face" from start to finish. The song advances at a mid-tempo pace during its first verse until a crunchy rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix at the start of the second, the awe-inspiring chorus that follows ranking among the albums best. A good gritty guitar solo precedes the song repeating its exceptional chorus one last time.
The haunting "River Of Life I" commences as an acoustic guitar sustains its first and second verse subsequent to the rhythm guitar shoring up its third verse in a sweeping manner. The instrumental passage covering the songs final four minutes opens to a blazing guitar solo followed by narration underscored by bluesy lead guitar work. "River Of Life I" is lyrically based around Revelation 22:1-5:
Then the angel showed me
The river of the water of life
As clear as crystal
Flowing from the throne of God
And of the Lamb down the middle
Of the great street of the city
On each side of the river
Stood the tree of life
Characterized by catchy songwriting, superb production and first-rate musicianship, The Album Of Labour is an excellent follow up to the bands previous effort Spiritual Wasteland. And despite the numerous obstacles leading to its delay, the album proves in no uncertain terms to be well worth the wait. Finally, let's hope it is not another seven years before we hear from this talented band again!
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Waiting For The Bloodred Sky” (5:00), “Eli Lema Sabachtani” (5:14), “Doom Of Man” (4:30), “River Of Life II” (4:20), “Inner Circle” (4:30), “Deep Down Under” (6:11), “The Healing The Mystery” (6:14), “River Of Life IIII” (3:10), “Voice Of Creation” (4:22), “Healers Face” (5:08), “River Of Life I” (7:56)
Fredrik Ohlsson – Lead Vocals
Torbjorn Weinesjo – Guitars
Mattias Cederlund – Keyboards
Gabriel Ingemarson – Bass
Thomas Weinesjo - Drums