Review – Veneficium: Veneficium

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  • Bio: "Comprising veterans of the vital New Zealand metal underground, VENEFICIUM are a shrouded mystery whose sound emits both mystery and menace, ethereality and utter crushing dread."
    - Press Release
  • Label: Iron Bonehead Productions
  • Release Date: March 11th, 2016
  • Genre: Death Metal, Doom Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Not much is known publicly about New Zealand’s Veneficium other than it’s composed of “legends” in the region’s field. This, however, did not stop Iron Bonehead Productions from being able to unleash the group’s self-titled debut demo, a recording recent streams have only taunted listeners with the promise of something potentially special on the horizon. With the imminent cassette release nearing, is it something actually worthwhile, or is Veneficium far from as tantalizing a product as most would have you believe?

Veneficium lingers between the realms of pure brutality and soul crushing doom metal despair, all wrapped up in an abrasive, low-tuned world comparable to masters of the field like IncantationEncoffination. The bass guitar is rich on this effort, pulsating deeply against your ear drums without completely overtaking the ritualistic passages that can have you bobbing your head along obediently as if in some sort of black magic trance. Of course, Veneficium isn’t afraid to dabble in the black arts either, sometimes throwing traditional second wave grooves into the mix for good measure on “Aggregation of Sufferings Manifest”. The song acts as a slow burn, hitting the listener with unforgivingly bleak riff after riff that slowly increases in speed to about two minutes in, which is where you’re given about thirty seconds of traditional black metal inspiration before exploding into a hellish inferno that rips away at the skin for a short while before leaving you to crawl through snow-capped plateaus once more.

“Mordant Photism Above Cathedrals of Ash” also kicks off on a similar slow manner, though void of any chill similar. Instead, this one hammers deep, remorseless grooves that seem to thrust you into an unforgiving southern terrain as the spirits conjured during the ritualistic drum patterns whip around you, moaning loudly as the tension gradually builds in a way that can briefly feel like a death metal interpretation of a Fantomas track come three minutes in. Both this and “Aggregation of Sufferings Manifest”, however, are stark contrasts to the traditional “Mefetic Exhumations”, which presents more of an epic overtone to the mix, all the while focusing on speed and aggression over incantations and occult passages. While a solid introduction, it in no way braces the listener for the trudging nightmares that lay before them, leaving you wanting a little more from it overall.

Veneficium

While the material on Veneficium shows solid musicianship, this is the sort of recording you want to throw on more for atmosphere than the quality of the performances themselves, which is far from a bad thing at all. What is Veneficium‘s debut demo could easily have been expanded by another two or three songs to turn it into a sublime full-length experience if those other tracks mirror one-third the power behind these three. As it is, Veneficium effectively leaves one hell of a positive impression on the listener going forward. And, truthfully, that’s its only major downfall. This demo is literally nothing more than a tease for fans of spiritually crushing death metal. Hopefully the group has more songs already worked out, and a proper debut album isn’t too far off. But, until then, if you enjoy your metal hopeless, but still fairly abusive, then Veneficium tape is something well worth grabbing.

Veneficium

Digital review copy of this release provided by Iron Bonehead Productions.