Venial Sin: Sphere Of Morality

Since forming in 2008 Portuguese band Venial Sin has slowly emerged as one of the more interesting and inventive metal bands, their fusion of black/death metal with progressive rock an intriguing and stirring mix. Their new EP Sphere Of Morality marks their arrival as a real force and a band suggesting even great things ahead. The release is a compulsive and at times mesmeric melodic gem brought forth upon an intense and aggressive heavy atmosphere. It makes one work and immerse within its weighty mass to find all of its elegance and creativity but is accessible from the first introduction too, ensuring one wants to delve deeper.

Since its beginning Venial Sin has refined and brought richness to their sound, from the uncomplicated and basic first four track demo World Reset to this their new EP. Their sound has evolved and found a defined breath and pulse of its own which sets them apart from most other melodic death and black metal bands. In the EP the melodic aspects of their sound is to the fore and in many ways leads each song but never to the expense of the darkened intensity and formidable power the band demand attention with. Elements of groove metal and grind frequent the corridors of Sphere Of Morality too adding to the flavoursome and unpredictable music.

Autumn 2011 saw a line-up change with founder members Pedro Matos (guitar/vocals/ synths) and Helder Guedes (drums) bring joined by Renato Sousa (vocals), Rafael Pinto (guitar), and Gustavo Gonçalves (bass). The EP itself though was first started on by the band at the beginning of the same year with Venial Sin recording the release between January and June in the Blind & Lost Studios in Stª Marta de Penaguião, and mixed and mastered by Guilhermino Martins. The result is a collection of six songs that take one down darkened avenues of thought and invention whilst lighting the way with flames of melodies and beacons of inspired creativity.

Opening track A New Rose not so much assaults the senses but pulls them to immediate attention with stirring synths and eagerly pacing riffs. It swarms around the ear whilst softening it up with intimidating rhythms and aggressively driven guitars. The vocals of Sousa growl with a guttural depth that matches the predatory bass and heavier riffs to give a fine attack but it is when the band step into a openly melodic atmosphere and defined craft that the song lights up, especially with the caressing synths and excellent clean vocals of Sousa taking over. The band than merge these elements wonderfully keeping the senses enthused and mesmerised with intelligent enterprise, ingenuity, and craft. The song marks the territory the rest of the release frequents in their individual guises, a thoroughly impressive adventure.

The following Prepared For Battle and Novembers Fall are equally as mighty and pleasing, the first bringing a direct venomous black metal attack to blister emotions with a caustic intensity as scorched as the harsh vocals and the second enveloping the ear and beyond with a searching melodic invention from its start. Novembers Fall brings both sides of the band into a truly outstanding union, the striking almost cruel sounds and intent eager companions to the evocative and emotive progressive imagination that spreads through every pore of the song.

The stunning Real End is one of the two biggest highlights of the release, a provocative progressive piece of songwriting which inspires individual thoughts and images. Predominately a melodic electric caress the track still does not refuse the intense and imposing side of the band, lacing the music with a muscular energy. The equally immense and hypnotic Vanishing Into… leaves one breathless and fully drawn into the grand atmospheres pervading it and the whole release. With grooves which wind around the ear with a teasing grasp and middle eastern inspired melodies that sway and mesmerise with the allure of a siren, it is a glorious piece of invention.

The inventive and again deeply rewarding closing title track completes what is an outstanding EP. Sphere Of Morality is for most the first introduction to Venial Sin but will not be the last we hear or enjoy from the band. Released through Infektion Records it is one of the more impressive progressive blackened metal releases in a long time and as is the band a must investigation for all.

RingMaster 08/05/2012

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