VENREZ – Children Of The Drones

Venrez - Children Of The DronesWhen it comes to finding new music, I have always been a bit of a nerd. Ever since my teenage years, I have found myself loving digging after unknown bands. To pat myself on my shoulder a bit, at 15, I was the one who spread the word of Twisted Sister at my school when they were nobodies and nobody had yet to even heard their name. I read an article about them in a magazine and decided that I would have to love that band, bought their 1983 album You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll and that was it. In just a couple of days, more or less everyone at school knew who Twisted Sister were because I had to tell everyone about my new discovery. I’m still like that and I just can’t understand aging rockers who are satisfied by just listening to their old records and not caring about new exciting bands. How fun is that? I’m still gonna love all my classic records just as much, but it’s such a great feeling to discover a new band or just realising that one of my favorite bands still can deliver the goods. As a reviewer, every now and again, links keeps popping up in my mail box from A&R dudes who wants me to review this and that band – and man, I truly love it when that happens. Sometimes the bands kills, sometimes they suck and sometimes they just are, but it’s so awesome to be able to check out new music. Every now and again, the records are so good that I just have to order them as well. The music nerd in me still lives and breathes. One link that came popping up in my mailbox was from a band called Venrez, a band I have never even heard of before. A quick read through the press release told me that this band could very well be for me. But who are these guys then? Well, Venrez was formed by Hollywood movie producer Steven Berez, Ven to his buddies, hence the name Venrez. With him he brought Jason Womack, a multi-instrumentalist who used to play bass and write songs for Juliette Lewis & The Licks. For Venrez, Jason switched to guitar, but also plays bass on this record. Jason is responsible for the music while Ven writes all the lyrics. I know that age doesn’t matter, but I find it really cool that Berez decided to form a rock band at the age of 56. Proves that you’re never too old to become a rookie – and you’re never too old to rock. Venrez has, prior to this album, self-released two albums, Sell The Lie and American Illusion, but since I didn’t know anything about this band before getting the e-mail, these are two records I have never heard a note of and therefore I have nothing to compare this new album with. The band has also toured quite frequently and has opened up for bands such as Alice Cooper, Hardcore Superstar, Buckcherry and Slash.

Opener and first single “Hang The Predator” is brilliant. The leading riff is so close to Alice In Chains that it could almost count as a rip-off. The sound is heavy, dark and doomy while the melody makes me think of Swedish metal band Pain, but that’s probably not intentional at all. No matter what, it’s a killer tune. The title track follows and the song has a really cool riff, kinda like Pearl Jam goes metal, the melody is very catchy while the song in itself is straight forward hard rock – awesome stuff. “Devil’s Due” sounds like a faster version of 70’s Black Sabbath. It’s a good song, but the vocals is a bit too monotone here which makes it a bit of a hassle to listen to in the end. There is a goth influence in pop rocker “Salvation”, like Sisters Of Mercy goes pop metal. The arrangement is really cool and the song turned out a winner. “Mist Of Mercy” is a great ballad with a big Alice In Chains influence and in “Deep” Alice In Chains meets Pain once again – heavy, dark and very good. “20th Reason” brings us more Alice In Chains influences, but this time with a big groove and a very catchy melody and the tune really rocks – brilliant! Finishing “Sacred Blood” could very well be the finest tune on this album. It’s a long, dark, slow and epic song with an almost chanting vocal melody. Again, the vocals are a bit monotone, but in this song it totally works.

As a whole, I can’t say that I’m completely blown away by this record, but on the other hand, it is a very good album. But there are a few issues to address. First of all, the Alice In Chains influence. I love Alice In Chains just as much as the next guy, but sometimes the influence is too obvious, both in riffs, melodies and in the way Ven sings. There’s a lot of Layne Staley there at times. A bit more own identity would improve this band. Also, there’s an annoying autotune on the vocals here which bugs me, the vocals are too monotone on certain songs and the singing could use a bit more variation. But, the album doesn’t contain any bad songs at all even though all of them aren’t masterpieces, but there are enough great songs on here for any rocker to take the good with the bad. And if you’re an Alice In Chains fan, you shouldn’t hesitate to get hold of this album. But would I recommend this album for any hard rocker out there? Well, sure, if you’re open-minded enough there are quite a few goodies to digest here. Mostly a really good album that has a safe spot in my playlist in my phone for further a while. Well done!

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

1. Hang The Predator
2. Children Of The Drones
3. Devil’s Due
4. Salvation
5. Mist Of Mercy
6. Deep
7. 20th Reason
8. Reflection
9. Spin The Top
10. Sacred Blood

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