Sphere of Morality
Venial Sin are a four piece extreme metal band from Villa Real in Portugal, they consist of Renato Sousa on Lead Vocals, Predo Matos on Guitar, Vocals and Synths, Paulo Padrao on Bass Guitar and Helder Guedes on Drums. The band aren’t easily categorized but have elements of Death Metal, Black Metal and some more melodic elements, blended with some very dark and atmospheric elements.
Their album, Spheres of Morality which I am reviewing here was released in 2012 via Infekted Records.
Track one is entitled, A New Rose, which starts off with a really interesting riff on the guitars and bass shortly progressed by some really intense guttural vocals and some great rhythmic parts and harmonizing guitar parts, then there’s an acoustic sounding segment with clean vocals and some cymbal work on the drums.
One thing I would like to note about this track is that the drums sound fantastic, they are really full and played flawlessly by drummer Helder. A New Rose is a really good track, it is rhythmic yet melodic which can often be a hard balance to find but the guys at Venial Sin have found it and executed that balance with some style, there are some great atmospheric background sounds on this track which caught my attention and overall this track has a nice contrast between it’s heavy and light elements.
Next up is a track called, Prepared for Battle, the title does not disappoint either! The first thing that strikes me about this track is the guitar tone, they have got that sound just right I feel, there is some great drumming with really interesting rhythms at play on this track, some brilliant blast beats and perfect double bass pedal work on the drums. This is quite a Black Metal sounding track, without sounding clichéd either! I like the use of overlapping duel vocals and the bass guitar really compliments the guitar parts, towards the end of the track softer vocals come in which are intermixed with the familiar guttural vocals and the track starts to take a on a rather ethereal quality to it, especially with its guitar solo!
Novembers Fall is the third offering on this album and it starts with acoustic sounds and some great ambiance, there’s some great guitar picking and a nice chord jangle at the end of the main riff at the beginning before it get’s into a really mournful and depressing feel, the guttural vocals are slow and droning and that’s intermixed once more with the softer vocal, giving this track a very somber feel. One thing I did notice at one point with this track is that the softer vocal does a harmony which is very reminiscent of a vocal phrase that Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant does in Stairway to Heaven, the similarities to it are striking and I don’t know if it was a conscious thought out idea to have that in there or if it was just a natural organic thing that happened. My overall thoughts on this track is that it is very mournful and depressing, great if you want to listen to such a track.
Track four is entitled, Real End and it is definitely the ballad track of this album, it starts off with some electronic keyboards in its intro which is shortly followed by the Bass Guitar, Drums and Soft Vocal and there are some really nice harmonies on this track, I found it to be very contemplative and introspective and it really makes the listener look inside of themselves, as I am sure was the intention of the band with this track, around the 3 minutes mark the heavy vocals comes in and the tempo steps up somewhat.
Vanishing Death is the penultimate track on this album, it has a very fantasy almost computer game feel to this track and I don’t mean that in a negative way, it sounds like it could be part of a soundtrack to one of the Final Fantasy games, there are some interesting guitar and drum parts and a nice overall rhythm. It has a great progression as the song goes on and almost has a battle feel to it, like your about to face a level boss on a computer game. An interesting track indeed!
The Title track of this album, Sphere of Morality is the final track on this album, which I found to be quite an odd but not unwelcome position on the album itself. This track starts with a Death Metal feel to it and has some nice choppy rhythmic parts and it is quite a technical track, I like the duel layered heavy vocals and the drumming once again is top notch, there is some very impressive double bass pedal work which really shows off the drummers skill.
There is more synth in the background of this track and at approximately 2 minutes 20 seconds into this track all the instruments stop playing and the listener is momentarily left with just synth before they kick back in again, I get a feel of finalisation and that the album has come full circle with this track and perhaps that is why the band decided to place the title track at the end of the album, the track then ends with some synth that slowly fades away and your left with the sounds of a Portuguese night, with crickets and various nightlife painting a picture of a late summers night.
On the CD there are two final tracks labelled, Part I and Part II although they share the same track as the previous song, Sphere of Morality. It’s hard to define which is Part I and Part II to be honest, the fire sounds give way to some electronic keyboard and some synth which is shortly joined by some reverbed flute sounds, which soon takes over the track, it’s a very ambient sound and I would also go further to classify it as electronic easy listening.
My personal opinion here is that the band should of left out this electronic part and ended the album with the sounds of the night and the fire, for me that would have been a far more satisfying end to the album.
To Summarise, Sphere of Morality is not that bad of an album if you want to sit and listen to something that’s going to transport you to another place or another way of thinking, if your expecting track after track of heaviness and brutality then you will be sorely disappointed, yes there are times when there is heaviness but I wouldn’t personally call it a brutal heaviness, more of a doom metal kind of heaviness to me but that however is just my opinion.
What I will say though and in no way am I being negative or derogatory here, I think this album would make a great soundtrack to a video game, a fantasy based game such as Final Fantasy X as a lot of the ideas really reminded me of the soundtrack to that game, I really think the band should approach some games developers as if they can get their album used as a soundtrack, if not in part to a game I really think they would make a lot of money with it!
I do not wish to make the entirety of my summary of this album to be a pitch to have this made into a video game soundtrack however, so here are a few more of my thoughts.
This album has the potential to span and cross various musical genres in my opinion and a great potential to win a lot of fans who may not usually listen to this type of music, I found it to be very accessible and I am sure new listeners will too. If you have never heard this album I would recommend it to you all, take a listen to it just once to see if it is your cup of tea as it may well be or it may not be but still take the time to give it a try as I did, I don’t think any listener would be sorely disappointed with it at all but I do think the listener would have to be in a certain mood or frame of mind to make this album a regular listen. For me it would be an album that I would put on now and again to perhaps lift my mood or have it playing in the background. All in all a pretty good effort by Venial Sin and I think the band will progress nicely and their next release will have a natural and well deserved progression.