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A Day In Venice : A Day In Venice

This eponymous debut is an outstanding presentation of concept.

Doom, as a true underground movement, has more than its fair share of enigmatic denizens: deliberately faceless, nameless and esoteric bands releasing mysterious, unexplained slabs of extremity wrapped in wilfully uninformative packaging. And whilst that ne plus ultra of letting the music do the talking is one form of absolute artistic integrity, the flip side of the coin, where the artist stands openly with their creation, pointing to the motivation and intent behind it. True, that may sometimes be an irrelevance, even a disappointment at having enchantment explained prosaically; equally, it can cast an illumination that helps music stimulate the mind as well as the heart.

A Day In Venice fall very much on that flip side; perhaps only to be expected, given that the founder, composer and main musician of the project, Andrej Kralj, established his reputation as a poet and painter alongside his development as a rock/alternative musician. This first, self-released venture into Doom territories - after nearly two decades of musical experience - combines all of those different ways to communicate into one integrated and beautifully-presented package. The sumptuously bronzed gatefold digipack (designed by Aleš Brce and Luca Silvestro) is a piece of art in itself, clearly spelling out and illustrating the concept behind the album, accompanied by a thick, equally-lavish, bronze booklet containing all of the lyrics, recording information and imagery associated with the tracks.

The project, initially known as Narcotic Luxuria (before that name was deemed unbalanced towards the extravagant side of the music rather than the total atmosphere), focuses on "paying a homage to creativity, construction and meaning": a reminder that there is more to life than power, expansion and the mass-produced trinkets of modernity. In concept, and in the classically-influenced Gothic Doom presentation, it has parallels with the recent, excellent 'Sophia' by Vestige Of Virtue, falling somewhere between that and a less-ethereal early 3rd And The Mortal in feel. A lot of that has to do with the frequent use of the pure, clean female vocals of Martina Feri, and the prevalent violin and cello of Petra Juric, emphasising the atmospheric and neoclassical sides of the album. Past that, swirls and blasts of synths add Gothic flourishes, harsh male vocals make appearances and drums, guitar and bass shape the body of tracks that, by and large, retain and return to a core of riff-driven heaviness.

Like both above-mentioned bands, though, the creation of overall mood is paramount, and to this end, Kralj is perfectly willing to experiment in ways that fall both within and without the boundaries of Gothic and Doom metal that enclose most of the album. The electronic sampling and electro-drumbeats of 'You Take It', the chamber-music instrumentals 'A Day In Venice' and 'A Day In The Woods' and the operatic male vocals in 'As The Ship Docks' rub shoulders freely with the growled vocals and chugging riffs of 'Crowns', the slow menace of 'The Coming' and the soaring melancholy in 'A Dripping Gutter': great variety, yet recognisably consistent personality is the balance being sought - and achieved - here.

Given all of the eclecticism, the question 'is it Doom enough?' is a fair one - as is the answer 'yes'. It doesn't tread a strictly convential path along the way, nor entirely seek to be pigeonholed in genre, but nonetheless every part of the aesthetic speaks to those elements which add up to Doom. Ominous, fatal, ritualistic undercurrents ripple through even the brightest of melodies. Much like the lovely islands of Venice themselves, it sits proudly where the old world meets the new: implausibly and grandly rising from the darkest and dankest of tottering foundations to tower as a thing of beauty overlooking the lagoon. The extravagance of the carnival masquerade, the narrow, winding, ever-twisting streets and canals, overhung by glorious architecture, and the crafts, both traditional and modern, on gaudy - sometimes vulgar - display: all of these find their analogue in the evocation that is 'A Day In Venice'.

Which rather brings us full circle: that all is openly revealed, all is made clear, and yet exploring the heart of darkness which weaves through it is enhanced, not reduced, by such overtness. This, quite simply, is an outstanding presentation of concept, wrapped around a core of diverse and exquisitely-executed music. When younger, I spent a week - camping, in early February! - beside the lagoon, exploring the city, and not even the bitter sub-zero weather could detract from the beauty of that experience - this album, with its sometimes equally bitter and cruel backdrop, captures that same feeling. I loved Venice; I loved 'A Day In Venice'.

Note: Some information was sourced from this interview with No Clean Singing.

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Reviewer's rating: 9/10


Tracklist :
1. Into A Luxurious Masquerade
2. A Dripping Gutter
3. Crowns
4. Tower Of Gold
5. A Day In Venice
6. Your Bread, My Flesh
7. The Coming
8. You Take It
9. A Day In The Woods
10. As The Ship Docks
11. Kaplijce

Duration : Approx. 46 minutes

Visit the A Day In Venice bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-11-23 by Mike Liassides
Aesthetic Death
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