Released By: Lion
Release Date: Out Now!!
Genre: Progressive Metal
Lydie Lazulli (lead vocals)
Charly Sahona (guitar, keyboard, vocals)
Frédéric Marchal (drums)
Thomas James Potre (bass)
1. Devil In Disguise
2. Secret Dream
3. A New Dawn Rising
4. What We’re Here For
5. What If I
7. Spiritual Path
8. A Land Of Dreams
I’ve long been a fan of progressive metal, but lately I’ve found when looking into new bands, I almost need more descriptive tags to help figure out if they’re worth listening to or not, just because the genre has expanded into so many little mini sub-genres of its own, and some of those are almost always to my liking, while others are more hit and miss. I won’t turn this into a boring discussion about genres, though, so suffice to say, while I do like most kinds of prog, I especially prefer bands who use either a very traditional approach, or a more modern and very melodic approach. I’ve never heard Venturia before, but their third release, “Dawn Of A New Era” is a very nice example of melodic progressive metal, as it still has some very strong musicianship and the occasional use of complex rhythms and structures, but for the most part the focus is more on the melodies.
Musically, the album has a very modern feel to it, with some very nice and modern sounding keys, to go along with some very strong guitar work, including some great riffs and the occasional well-timed use of chugging, which gives it a slight alternative metal feel. In general, the heavier parts are at the beginning of the songs and the instrumental sections in the middle, while in between the emphasis is on the melodies and on allowing the vocals to carry the music. There’s a nice variety to the songs, with some of them focusing a bit more on the technical side, showing what guitarist/keyboardist Charly Sahona can do, while others are much more accessible, even a bit commercial sounding at points. This may bother some, but for me the more catchier moments work very well, and fit in fine great with the rest of the music. Plus, even on the more streamlined songs the sound is always very metal, and on the whole there’s a very smooth balance between both the heavier, more technical parts, and the more melodic and accessible parts.
Vocal duties are mostly handled by the lovely Lydie Lazulli, but there are some parts where Charly also sings, and unfortunately, those are the weakest parts of the album. See, I’m getting frustrated by this trend of female fronted bands including male vocals for no reason other than to create some kind of unnecessary vocal duo, and while the typical beauty and the beast approach has never bothered me, there have been many more recent albums including clean male vocals, and that is when I get annoyed. His voice is rather weak, and really drags down the parts where he sings. Thankfully, whenever Lydie sings she carries the songs with the strength of her very sweet voice, and fits in wonderfully on the more melodic passages. But when she has to add in a bit more power, she has no problems doing that as well.
The album begins with “Devil In Disguise”, one of the heavier songs, which includes a bit of the alt metal influence. Sadly, both verses start with some rather poor vocals from Charly, but once Lydie takes over, she immediately shines, and it’s very easy to fall in love with her voice, as it happened near instantly for me. The first song also has some of the best use of keys on the album, and they help give it a very modern feel. I enjoy each of the first three songs quite a bit, but the first real highlight is “What We’re Here For”, a song which perfectly balances both the more progressive side of the band, and the more commercial side, with some more complex sections giving way for a very epic chorus.
Up next is surprisingly my favorite song, “What If I”. The reason I say “surprisingly” is because it’s easily the most accessible of all, to the point where I could imagine hearing that chorus on the radio, and me being very happy to hear it. Still, the verses are rather slow and heavy, but in a more simple way, and while the chorus is borderline pop/rock, it is very nice and very memorable. The most progressive song of all is the closing track, “A Land Of Dreams”, which is very nice and often atmospheric, thanks to the keys. Both vocalists have some space, but there are also some very good instrumental passages packed into the 7 minute track, by far the longest on the album.
I mentioned my frustrations with Charly’s occasional vocal appearances, and the biggest offender for that is the ballad “Spiritual Path”. A great ballad is one which gives a talented singer all the room they need to shine and show how special they can be, but sadly, Charly sings a lot during the early portions of the song, which drags it down. Lydie doesn’t get to take full control until the bridge and the final chorus, and that’s really a shame, because once she does take the lead the song completely comes to life, so it makes me wonder how much better it would have been if she had sung the whole song on her own.
Aside from all my complaints about the male vocals (which only appear on a few songs and aren’t even that prominent aside from the ballad anyway), “Dawn Of a New Era” is a great melodic progressive metal album, which strikes a nice balance between the more technical side of the genre, and a more accessible approach. Venturia is definitely a band to watch out for, even if a certain annoyance must always be tolerated. Of course, if Lydie is ever allowed to do all the vocals by herself, that would only make the band even better.
Written by Travis