After years already stirring up and invading the senses and albums that have thrust the listener into the darkest places within the band’s imagination, UK’s Ventenner endeavoured to delve into the most unique and most ambitious aspects of their creativity yet. They have emerged with Hollow Storm, their fourth full-length and most striking and gripping offering yet.
Experimentation and the evolution of their sound, which merges alternative and industrial metal as a starter, has been an on-going exploration for the band and a feast of adventure for the listener. Hollow Storm though sees the London outfit in many ways re-invent how they created music; indeed according to vocalist/synthist and the band’s founder Charlie Dawe, the quartet “challenged every possible outcome…From the lyrical themes and structures, to the sounds and instruments used and the performance of each song.” It has resulted in an album which trespasses the senses and emotions just as readily and enthrallingly as it seduces both. Each track sees Ventenner weave an individual maze of textures and sound which drew us in, trapped us inside and proceeded to arouse the deepest shadows within whilst evoking the thickest pleasure.
The successor to Invidia, the bands widely acclaimed 2017 album, Hollow Storm needed mere seconds to consume attention before going on to eclipse its outstanding predecessor. The brief but potent Now opens up the captivation; its dark looming shadows a portentous invitation and suggestion of things to come with a teasing of electronic light only spotlighting the essence of danger. That breath continues to lure the imagination across the following Surface, its infectious saunter bound in intimidation and darkness yet it makes for an irresistible enticement which effortlessly seduced. Dawe’s tones are just as two toned, captivating but carrying a threat which erupts in explosive intensity within a just as turbulent maelstrom of sound. The track is glorious, rhythms predatory yet invitingly manipulative, guitars and keys a collusion of sonic and melodic toxicity.
In some ways the song is bred in the familiar blend of industrial and alt metal we have come to embrace from the band, echoes of artists such as Nine Inch Nails and Gravity Kills teased out, but equally it lays the seeds of new exploration which becomes more fertile and fascinating across the soon to prove exceptional release, next up Late Days straightaway building on its endeavours with predacious intent. The track is raw and caustic, stalking the senses as it prowls the imagination but skilfully tempered by the inherent melodic prowess of the band, together creating something as fearsome as it is virulently infectious and never allowing the listener to settle as twist after turn invades the psyche.
Displaced festers in the ear with an electronic and rhythmic throbbing, one soon seeing Dawe gently crooning in its midst. As guitars align their wired enticement, the coaxing is only enriched as it builds and leads to the fire in the track’s belly erupting in fiery force. Again conflicting textures, echoing mixed emotions, unite in the industrial nurtured and more than slightly claustrophobic incitement and once more we found ourselves locked in its grip before Elliptical uncaged it’s more energetic but no less disquieting proposal. As imaginative, dextrous and intricately woven as the album is, there is something primal about it too, an essence which provides thrilling depth and unease especially within this transgressing yet ravenously contagious encroachment of the senses.
Similarly with a basic natured breath is Just Surrender, a track which also stalks its victim before invading with sonic vines and metal lined antipathy, winding around the listener with infernal grooves as vocals evolve between harmony and venomous hostility. That alone was enough to enslave but with a melodic hook that lured like a temptress and a mesh of layered sound which only enhanced its rapacity, the track ensnared before Rain Down began its own hounding of the psyche with calm disposition and volatile intensity. The song clings to the senses like suffocating fog yet is a seduction of dark beauty and again unnerving euphoria and another major highlight of the album which has so many just as the transfixing and sinister Underneath swiftly confirmed. Minimalistic yet thick in suggestion and drama at its core whilst continually exploring new avenues within its industrial almost poppy scented descent into the darkest depths, the track was nothing less than pure slavery.
Ferocious rock ‘n’ roll under pins the endeavour of Code, a storm pushing to erupt throughout but only given occasional moments of daylight to soil, no safe place found in its realm of dark thoughts and tenebrific sighs while Become merges infectious exploits with carnal infringements and similarly leads willing ears and thoughts astray with the delicious steely tones of the bass especially persuasive.
The release concludes with Crossed And Cursed, a final slice of industrial metal spun drama and invention that twists and stains the psyche with magnetism and almost insidious craft, every second of the track the seed to a nightmare and lingering pleasure.
It is a thrilling end to a momentous sharing of space and attention with Ventenner. Never has the band been heavier and more invasive yet equally more restrained and manipulative and never has the band been more impressive, irresistible and important than within Hollow Storm.
Hollow Storm is out now via Syndicol Music on digital platforms and CD; available @ https://www.ventenner.com/store
Pete RingMaster 24/11/2020