Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Veni Domine - Tongues
   
Musical Style: Progressive Doom Metal Produced By: Torbjorn Weinesjo
Record Label: MCM Country Of Origin: Sweden
Year Released: 2007 Artist Website:
Tracks: 10 Rating: 90%
Running Time: 67:28

Veni Domine - Tongues

Sweden’s Veni Domine has been delivering its unique brand of progressive doom metal since the early nineties, releasing its full length debut, Fall Babylon Fall, in 1992 before following up three years later with the sophomore outing Material Sanctuary.  After recording Spiritual Wasteland in 1998, the band went on hiatus – as a result of both problems with its label and a vocal condition afflicting frontman Fredrik Ohlsson – until 2004 when it put out its fourth album overall in The Album Of Labour.  Veni Domine, fortunately, continued to remain active by giving us 23:59 in 2006 and its most recent effort, Tongues, the very next year.

What we have in Tongues is a versatile work in which Veni Domine draws upon all eras of its two decade history.  Most notably, the album finds the group showcasing a technical progressiveness we have not heard since its earlier recordings, Fall Babylon Fall and Material Sanctuary.  This is best found on lengthier pieces such as the heavy duty “October”, intricate “Tree Of Life” and the albums ingenious – and at times eclectic – title track (the longest song by Veni Domine since “The Chronicle Of The Seven Seals” from FBF).  Nevertheless, the two key words to keep in mind are “technical” and “progressive” in that the material on Tongues comes across quite complex with numerous time changes – some fast paced and up-tempo and others reflecting the doom-like tendencies the band is known for – that keep things fresh and creative throughout.  Just give “Scream”, “The Bell Of A Thousand Years” and “The Rider On The White Horse” several spins, three inspired tracks bringing a level of depth guaranteed to keep you coming back time and again.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for a catchy and more hook driven sound – similar to that on The Album Of Labour – then check out the abundant melodies characteristic to “Two Times” and “You Leave Me Cold”.  Conversely, “Bless My Pain” moves in a swarthy and near Goth-like direction that brings to mind 23:59.     

Another notable characteristic to Tongues is that it proves to be the heaviest and most guitar driven effort from the band to date.  And credit for this, without a doubt must go to guitarist Torbjorn Weinesjo.  Before proceeding further, however, I feel it is necessary to take a quick look back at my review of 23:59 in which I made the following statement:

That being said, Veni Domine does pull some surprises here, the main one being a lack of emphasis on its instrumental sound- which I find to be particularly disappointing.  Guitarist Torbjorn Weinesjo, a very fine talent, does not always cut loose like he has in the past and, as a result, many of the albums track lack that “extra something special” that only a well timed instrumental section can provide.

To be honest, folks, Torbjorn’s performance on Tongues is such that I am forced to literally “eat my words”.  It is almost as if he read the review in question and said to himself, “Well, I am going to show you!”.  And show us he did!  With its literal wall of upfront rhythm guitar – crunchy and forward in the mix – Tongues stands out as an effort for the guitar aficionado.  The lead work on “October”, “The Bell Of A Thousand Years”, “You Leave Me Cold” and others, for example, represents some of the finest from Torbjorn to date while the bands instrumental prowess – aptly demonstrated on “Tree Of Life” and “Tongues” – cannot be questioned.

Lead vocalist Fredrik Sjoholm also remains a force to be reckoned with.  Continuing to bring his classic tenor and high end vocal delivery, Fredrick has toned it down “just a bit” when compared to the bands earlier days – not bringing as much wailing or falsetto screams – but still complementing the melding of the progressive and the doom-like the band brings to the table.

As with many guitar based albums, production values come across on the crisp and slightly raw side of things.  No, not raw to the point of detracting but raw in terms of accentuating the guitar based atmosphere here.  Actually, my overall feeling is that Tongues would have benefited from a slight “touch” of polish but, as previously stated, there is nothing detracting here.

“October”, a seven minute slab of progressive doom that would not sound out of place on Material Sanctuary, kicks in fast and heavy to a romping guitar riff.  Gradually tapering off upon obtaining its first verse, the song slows even further for the forwardly placed bass line that holds sway over the second.  A deep and resonant chorus stands in complement to the imposing scene.  As “October” continues to slacken, it moves on to an instrumental section in which Torbjorn cuts loose with a brazen stretch of lead guitar.  What we have here is a song that asks several key questions:

Endless progress
The dreams will never die
Trust our smartness
To ride the latest trend

Is this a better place?
Are we in better shape?
Has mankind done it right?
Are we equal to God?

“Scream” begins to a keyboard solo before grinding through its first verse as a choppy rhythm guitar bounces in and out of the mix.  After briefly pausing, the song moves on to a raucously delivered chorus upholding a caustic message:

Watching how the hate blackens the sun
Watching how the greed kills the breed
Who will scream?
Waiting for the bomb to scorch the earth
Waiting for the numb to steal the words
Who will scream?

In the end, however, the song offers several words of hope:

Prophecies will be fulfilled
Mankind hears the earth is quaking
On this night He will return
Save me Jesus, save my soul

The sublime “The Bell Of A Thousand Years” takes off to a perseverant guitar riff prior to decelerating to a swirling mix of keyboards for its first verse.  Abruptly picking up in pace at the start of the second, the song quickly flows ahead only to again slow for a doom-laden chorus backed by a full and resounding low end.  Torbjorn’s lead work this time comes across more aggressive (matching the all out energetic aura of the song).  “The Bell Of A Thousand Years” gives rise to an apocalyptic theme:

The throne in heaven will never fall
The just and righteous will hear the call
The light of heaven will never fade
The pure of heart will never feel betrayed
As the bell of a thousand years will toll…

“The Rider On The White Horse” starts to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar before trudging ahead in solemn fashion.  Gradually building in force, the song culminates upon obtaining an ennobled chorus emanating a plethora of spirited impetus.  Subsequent to an instrumental passage highlighting a riveting guitar solo, “The Rider On The White Horse” slows for a passage shored up by a quietly played guitar:

On His robe and on His thigh
He had this name written
THE KING OF KINGS
AND LORD OF LORDS

Revelation 19:11-16 is the subject matter here:

The rider of the white horse
Named faithful and true
The rider on the white horse
Salvation for me and you

Armies of heaven were following
Dressed in fine linen, white and clean
Out of His mouth came a sharp sword
With which to strike down the nations

The hook driven “Two Times” would not sound out of place on The Album Of Labour.  The song opens to a drum solo before slowly drifting through its verse portions, initiative gaining as the rhythm guitar cuts in and carries things to a catchy chorus driven by a forward mix of guttural vocal harmonies.  Stopping dead in its tracks, “Two Times” transitions to an energetic instrumental section in which Torbjorn again cuts loose.  “Two Times” is a song focusing on how God meets our needs: 

I try to find
Some peace of mind
You serve, I need
You wash my feet

Long before I ask
You fill me up inside
I don’t have to ask
Two times, two times

The portent – almost Goth-like – sounds of “Bless My Pain”, on the other hand, brings to mind 23:59.  A quietly played guitar initiates the song, eerily leading the way through its first verse until the rhythm guitar steps forward to drive a portentous chorus talking about how God works for the best in all life’s circumstances:

I did not know
I never saw
Your work behind my pain
Lord, bless my pain again

Torbjorn’s playing reflects a bluesy feel that stands in line with the dark and ominous environs to the song.  In the end, what we have in “Bless My Pain” is a song of faith:

The blood is hot under my skin
I try to keep the faith and win

I did not know
I never saw
Your work behind my pain
Lord, bless my pain again

“Stay With Me” commences at once at an upbeat tempo, raging forward to a swell of rhythm guitar only to taper to a pronounced bass line for its first and second verse.  The rhythm guitar returns to its previous place of prominence to hold sway over the decisive chorus that follows.  “Stay With Me” also dwells upon faith based themes:

Stay with me as I believe
Stay with me as I will grieve
Stay with me as I receive
The blasphemy of this tired world

Don’t let go
Of personality
God will lead
Follow sincerity

“You Leave Me Cold” gradually plods through its first verse as sweeping keyboards highlight the backdrop.  Building initiative in guitar driven fashion, the song acquires a symphonic flavored chorus in which operatic vocal harmonies play a prevailing role.  Torbjorn delivers one of the albums better runs of radiant lead work to a number focusing on a soul in need of comfort:

The wind from your winding ways
Still burns my skin
Your truth now will paralyze
So cold deep within
Your talk is sweet
Your talk is sin

You leave me cold
I need some warmth
Nothing you can say will make me obey
You leave me cold

Tongues closes to its two lengthiest tracks, “Tree Of Life” (9:45) and “Tongues” (16:28).
 
Similar to “October”, “Tree Of Life” proves an over the top progressive piece – too many time changes to go into adequate detail – that harkens back to Fall Babylon Fall and Material Sanctuary .  The song begins acoustically as a serene setting is put into place over its first three verses.  Once the rhythm guitar crashes in, however, impetus explodes as a tirade of driving riffs carries things to a chorus advancing at an exalted upbeat tempo.  A keyboard solo opens an instrumental section driven by an aggressive run of lead guitar.  “Tree Of Life” proves aptly named:

Eden the peaceful sanctuary
What were you thinking?
Eve, you became the first sinner
Led us out through the gate

Made us aware of our nakedness
Today we still crave it
Practice right and wrong
We fool ourselves thinking we are in control

Tree of life sowed by God
Watered by the holy
Tree of life protected by God
Fruits to give health and life

The albums epic title track starts to a joining of operatic female vocals and medieval style vocal harmonies.  The rhythm guitar makes its assertive presence felt a minute into “Tongues”, carrying a toiling load on the way to a steadfast chorus punctuated by Sjoholm’s subdued vocal delivery.  As the song reaches its five minute mark, it breaks for a grinding instrumental section underlined by more biting lead guitar (a touch of piano in the background adds to the portent environs).  “Tongues” closes out its final minutes in a manner bordering on the eclectic as a blend of ominous riffs and guitar feedback – that fades in and out of the mix – backs narration conveyed in a variety of “tongues”.  Acts 2:2-4 is the subject matter here:

I’ll stay in your presence
To breathe to be free
You’re the core, you’re the essence
For the wealth inside of me

Sacred is this moment
Breathe air into my lungs
Free me from this torment
Let me speak in tongues

My body will listen
Your voice is all around
You prove that You have risen
Creation can’t be bound

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “October” (7:39), “Scream” (4:33), “The Bell Of A Thousand Years” (5:06), “The Rider On The White Horse” (5:23), “Two Times” (4:22), “Bless My Pain” (4:26), “Stay With Me” (4:09), “You Leave Me Cold” (5:37), “Tree Of Life” (9:45), “Tongues” (16:28)

Musicians
Fredrik Sjoholm- Lead Vocals
Torbjorn Weinesjo – Guitars, Keyboards & Bass
Thomas Weinesjo – Drums

Guest Musicians
Peter Carlsohn, Ez Gomer, Andreas Olsson, Gary Kuhstoss – Bass
Mattias Cederlund – Piano

Also Reviewed: Veni Domine – Fall Babylon Fall, Veni Domine – The Album Of Labour, Veni Domine – 23:59

 

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