Lovely Vocals and Arcane MusicA couple of years ago I said that Menace Ruine sounds like occult church music. That’s still pretty much the case. If you’re the kind of person who is mesmerized by Botanist, or intrigued by Sabbath Assembly, then you will certainly enjoy Venus Armata.
Simple (distorted) organ pieces and guitar played in an unusual fashion—plus who knows what else—the instruments create a backdrop for the lovely vocal work. As far as I’m aware, they don’t reveal what instruments they use, but there are church bells and muted drums in some places, though I think to break it down would do it a disservice. To point out the marching percussive rhythm in the excellent “Red Sulphur” is potentially deceptive, because the organ moves much more slowly. And really, the key is not the droning of the instruments, but the vocal melodies.
Geneviève sings in a sort of Celtic/Gaelic folk style, which reminds me of label-mates SubRosa. It’s these melodies which make the songs memorable. She does this in an emotionally intense, yet skilled fashion. I wouldn’t say “controlled,” because it’s too loose for that, but I get the sense she is fully capable of control and has let it go for the sake of the music.
Beyond that, well, it’s one of those weird albums that gets peddled to metalheads a few times each year. If you’re the kind of person who typically enjoys those, this one will not disappoint you. Otherwise, perhaps your time would best be spent with something else. It is thoroughly mesmerizing. It was hard to believe more than an hour had passed by the time it was over.
The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars