|Musical Style: Progressive Doom Metal||Produced By: Matthias Kaufmann & Veni Domine|
|Record Label: R.E.X.||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 1992||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 7||Rating: 95%|
|Running Time: 67:26|
Sweden’s Veni Domine got its start in 1987 while initially under the name Glorify. Put together by founding member’s guitarist Torbjorn Weinesjo, drummer Thomas Weinesjo and bassist Anders Olofsson, the band finalized its first official line up when it recruited a talented vocalist by the name of Fredrik Ohlsson. After Olofsson was let go later the same year, a new bassist in Magnus Thorman joined the band – now going under the name Seventh Seal – before it recorded a demo in 1988 including the tracks “Stranger”, “Always In Time” and “Don’t Be Wasted Forever”. Subsequent to releasing its second demo, featuring three new songs in “The Prosecution”, “The King Is Crowned” & “The Saviour”, Seventh Seal completed one more demo in 1990, another three song effort made up of "Fall Babylon Fall", "Wisdom Calls" and "Armageddon". An appearance at the British Greenbelt festival soon followed and the English label Kingsway Music, which was attending the festival, was so impressed with Seventh Seal's performance that it went on to sign the band to a contract. In the meantime, Seventh Seal officially changed its name to Veni Domine – which is Latin for “Come Lord” as taken from the last part of Revelation 22 – as a result of the threat of a lawsuit by an American band also using the same name.
The best way to describe Veni Domine's 1992 full length Kingsway Music debut (later picked up for US distribution by R.E.X.) would be epic and orchestral progressive metal with occasional doom or even goth-like tendencies. Taking the heaviness of Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath but mixing in the operatic vocal aesthetics of Queensryche, Veni Domine has created a masterpiece in which epic length numbers abound. The albums first six tracks, for example, all come in the 7 to 8 minute range but are extremely well constructed in holding up under copious melodies that will pull you in and refuse to let go. Technical progressive metal number like “Armageddon” and “O Great City” exude a level of creativity that ranks among the finest of the genre, while “King Of The Jews” and “Wisdom Call” deliver abundant hooks of the near commercial variety. Veni Domine saves its best for last, on the other hand, in that the album closes with the 21 minute epic “The Chronicle Of The Seven Seals”, a masterful work which portrays events as described in Revelations chapters 5, 6 and 8.
It is the high end and operatic lead vocal abilities of Fredrik Ohlsson that helps give the bands its signature sound. Showcasing a delivery with near unlimited range that cannot help but invite a comparison to the likes of Geoff Tate (Queensryche) or Rey Parra (Sacred Warrior), Ohlsson best showcases his soaring abilities on “King Of The Jews” and “O Great City”. Torbjorn Weinesjo contributes an equal amount of ability on lead guitar, decorating the full length of the album with work that is impassioned but fluid and fiery at the same time. Thomas Weinesjo brings a very high level of technical prowess on drums, spicing up the environment with the needed amount of double bass whenever needed, and joins with bassist Magnus Thorman to put in place an unwavering foundation for the bands sound.
Production values come across crisp and clean in allowing all the instrumentation to rise above the mix. The only constructive comment worth offering, however, is that the album would have benefited from the slightest hint of big budget polish. No, nothing that will detract from your listening experience but you do notice it nonetheless. This is the only thing potentially preventing Fall Babylon Fall from receiving a perfect score.
While not a concept album, Fall Babylon Fall takes its listeners on a musical journey starting with the deceiver of mankind before moving on to Christ’s crucifixion and eventually the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom and the ultimate judgement and destruction of the earth. It is worth pointing out that the majority of the albums lyrics are taken directly from scripture, particularly the book of Revelation.
Please note that the albums excellent artwork is a painting done the English artist Rodney Matthews.
“Face Of The Prosecutor” gets the album underway to a hard hitting blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards. Evening out for its first verse as the keyboards drop from the mix, the song moves ahead in guitar driven fashion until it reaches a sweeping, two part chorus with an orchestral feel. Torbjorn adds to the lofty scene with his ardent work on lead guitar. “Face Of The Prosecutor” initially reflects upon the deceiver during its resounding bridge:
Long ago he was an angel once he was the keeper of light
Blinded by the power
He wanted to raise a throne above the starts of God
How he fell from the sky son of dawn he who once
Laid low the nations
Was brought down to the grave
Only to focus on his ultimate defeat in the end:
Look at His eyes what’s behind the mask
He’s the deceiver condemned by the woman’s seed
His head will be crushed
At the cross these words came alive for us all
Fall, all from the sky son of the dawn
All in all, an excellent epic-like number with a powerful message.
Introduced to the sound of thunder and pouring rain, “King Of The Jews” abruptly takes off to a plodding riff with an almost doom-like feel to it. Maintaining the portent atmosphere during its first verse, the song breaks for a quietly played passage in which the rhythm guitar takes a back seat in the mix. Once the rhythm guitar returns in full force, however, it exhorts “King Of The Jews” to a catchy chorus accentuated by a sublime touch of keyboards. Following an instrumental passage featuring a stretch of slowly played guitar, the pace of the song picks up as deep sounding vocal harmonies repeating the phrase “Arise – King of the Jews” are underscored by rapid double bass. “King Of The Jews” is aptly named:
Those who claimed to be wise
Those who lead the heard
Will bow before the King of the Jews
So death couldn’t’ hold the Son of Man
And you abuse His name for profits for yourselves
You misguided men with hearts of stone
Soon you will answer for your actions
The ominous keyboards at the start of “In The Day Of The Sentinel” are soon laced with an acoustic guitar. After the song breaks out for a brief explosion of rhythm guitar, it slows as a trace of keyboards gently holds sway over its first verse. Picking up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns at the start of the second, “In The Day Of The Sentinel” progresses in catchy fashion until it gains further momentum for a symphonic chorus advancing at a distinguished upbeat tempo. The subject matter here is the birth, crucifixion and ultimate return of Christ:
He came as a child, into a tired world
After all the years of despair
Just a child, but there was something in His eyes
He was the Son, He was the Lamb, ready to be sacrificed
I saw a man, blood ran from His face
A simple man, as they led Him up to Calvary
But did they know the reason why
To save the poor who seek their solace in the dark
He came as a child, gentle as a dove
But in the end He will return as a Lion…
“Wisdom Calls” begins to a short burst of keyboards before a wall of doom-like rhythm guitar cuts in, the uneasy environment maintained as the song continues to apprehensively move forward. Slowing to a quietly played guitar upon reaching its first verse, “Wisdom Calls” abruptly picks up in pace as a wall of rhythm guitar takes over at the start of the second and leads the way to a dramatic chorus with a catchy refuse to go away hook. Torbjorn again steps forward with a lengthy run of impassioned lead guitar work. A great song – by far the albums best – which was covered by 7 Days on its recent Rivel Records debut The Weight Of The World.
“Armageddon”, one of the albums faster and more up-tempo tracks, chronicles the 1000 year Millennial Kingdom as outlined in Revelation 20. The song opens to a contentious amalgamation of rhythm guitar and double bass before tapering off at the start of its first verse as Satan is bound:
And I saw an angel coming down from heaven
With the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand
He seized the dragon and bound him for a thousand years
Regaining its momentum in a guitar driven manner, “Armageddon” proceeds at an upbeat tempo until it smoothly transitions to an intense sounding chorus backed by hammering double bass. As the song reaches its second verse, the Millennial Kingdom is described:
The chosen came to life again and reigned
With Christ for a thousand years
Though the rest of the dead remained in the grave
Torbjorn’s proceeds to cut loose with a fiery guitar solo before “Armageddon” decelerates to a slowly moving passage in which militant style drums back narration from Revelation 20:7-10:
Foes marched across the breadth of the earth
And surrounded the camp of God’s people – the city He loves
But fire came down form heaven and devoured them
And the devil who deceived them
Was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur
Where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown
They will be tormented day and night forever and ever
“O Great City” reflects a resounding epic-like feel. Fading in to ringing church bells and medieval chanting, a forward mix of edgy rhythm guitar takes over and urges the song ahead until it slows for a passage carried by an acoustic guitar. Erupting with an abundance of guitar driven energy for its first verse, “O Great City” again slows for an acoustic guitar before the rhythm guitar returns and drives an all encompassing chorus fortified by huge, choir-like vocal harmonies. Ohlsson really stretches here, putting forth quite the impressive performance with his high end vocal delivery:
“The Chronicle Of The Seven Seals” can best be described as an ambitious three part, twenty minute “metal opera” that details events as described in Revelation chapters 5, 6 and 8.
The song begins to a quietly played prologue featuring narration from Revelation 1:3 & 9-11.
Part I, “The Scroll And The Lamb”, focuses on Revelation 5:1-8. Moving through its first verse to a quietly played guitar line, the pace picks up as the rhythm guitar steps forward and shores up the songs second and third verse hard and heavy. An almost worshipful environment is put in place as “The Scroll And The Lamb” gradually tapers off to a quietly played blend of guitar and keyboards for its fourth and final verse.
“The Seals”, Part II, portrays the opening of the first six seals as described in Revelation chapter 6. “Seal I” maintains the slowly moving tempo until a crisp rhythm guitar forces its way to the front of the mix and carries the song to “Seal II” in ardent fashion, the tempestuous setting held up throughout “Seal III”. Slowing to an acoustic guitar for “Seal IV”, the rhythm guitar returns and fortifies “Seal V” and “Seal VI” in an energetic manner.
Revelation 8:1-5 is the subject to Part III, “The Golden Censer”. “The Golden Censer” races through its first three verses to rapid double bass before reaching a passage buttressed by deep and heavy sounding vocal harmonies. The sweeping instrumental section that follows takes the song to its final two verses which are carried in the same quickly moving manner. Another instrumental passage closes out what is nothing less than a twenty minute masterpiece.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Face Of The Prosecutor” (8:13), “King Of The Jews” (8:11), “In The Day Of The Sentinel” (7:13), “Wisdom Calls” (6:43), “Armageddon” (7:34), “O Great City” (8:04), “The Chronicle Of The Seven Seals” (21:17)
Fredrik Ohlsson – Lead Vocals & Acoustic Guitar
Torbjorn Weinesjo – Lead, Rhythm & Acoustic Guitar
Magnus Thorman – Bass Guitar
Thomas Weinesjo – Drums & Tubular Bells
PA Danielsson – Keyboards
Gustafsson, Staffan. “Veni Domine: Out From The Unknown.” Heaven’s Metal 50 (1994): 23.
“Discovering Veni Domine.” Heaven’s Metal 40 (1993): 12-13.