In 2003, Veneficum from Chicago unleashed a classic symphonic metal album entitled Enigma Prognosis that achieved a cult following throughout the world. Released on Forever Underground via Crash Records, it was vastly underrated. The band played several times at the infamous Milwaukee Metalfest and toured across the country a few years ago co-headlining with Los Angeles’ own metal masters Sothis. In time,  Sothis found their way onto Candlelight Records, while nearly 8 years later, Veneficum is a free agent, finally releasing a follow-up effort in the grand DIY tradition.

One factor when encountering In Tranquil Absurd is the fact that founding vocalist and drummer G. Reymond is no longer in the band. A charismatic front man who also did time in the late, great Enforsaken, it usually spells disaster when a band loses one of their main members. Never fear, because new vocalist Josh Taugner is a powerful replacement, spewing out the bone chilling vocals in a darkly triumphant manner.   Taugner brings a sense of accomplishment and finality to the proceedings, and he is clearly a dynamic presence.  (Editor’s Note:  G. Reymond does participate on this album, performing drums, bass, as well as lead vocals on The Absolute Surrender.  This is his final recorded appearance with the band.)

The most compelling reason Veneficum remains a force to be reckoned with is the brilliant keyboard work of the mighty Nix. His artistry remains mesmerizing, weaving through the extreme material creating an atmosphere that is both cosmic and foreboding.

The guitar work is icy and extreme, creating a palette of desolate sound that is thrilling to behold. Maselbas offers up some staggering lead work, while original Veneficum member Mendoz shreds it up big time on rhythm guitar. Evigfrost is the bass goddess bar none, supplying the low end with a fierce sense of conviction. Veneficum 2010 is a powerful entity, as one will see when listening to the 11 tracks featured on In Tranquil Absurd.

With the musical equation of bands such as Dimmu Borgir and Cradle Of Filth combined with the dark intellectualism of Dissection, Veneficum is all that and more – presenting their own unique take on the extreme black metal arena.  Abstract and absolutely gripping, songs such as The Absolute Surrender, Trauma Vortex and the stellar title cut are ambitious and sweeping in scope. The band goes from a barrage of thunderous noise to gentle melancholic reveries, making for an exhilarating musical experience. There is imagination and intrigue to be found in the various passages. The most amazing thing about the entire magnum opus is the fact that for all the talent and vision Veneficum clearly possesses, the collective remains unsigned and enigmatic to the metal masses at large.

One of the most imaginative Black Metal albums to come out of the States in quite some time, In Tranquil Absurd by Veneficum is required listening – especially for those who think the very best of the genre are required to exclusively hail from across the Atlantic.  Here’s hoping it won’t be another seven years before we once again encounter the venomous sounds of the mighty Veneficum.

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Nix at Studio Black Aura Feb 2008 – Oct 2010. Drums recorded at Studio One Racine Oct 2008 – Jan 2009.  Featuring the wondrous cover art of Matt Lombard, whose impressive credits include work for Cradle Of Filth and Sarah Jezebel Deva.

(Review by Kenneth Morton)

Veneficum Official Homepage


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