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There are two ways to look at long breaks between releases. Either outside forces have convened to prevent the band from working, or they have holed themselves up and sweated out each and every detail of their work. The former is almost always the likely cause, given that none of us are getting rich off of this shit, but the latter is an appealing explanation because it allows to imagine our favorite artists as tortured perfectionists with complete control over their craft. Of course this opens up the possibility for what I’ll call the ‘Time Conundrum’, where the results of a long wait, and the assumption that the end of that wait means that the artist has gotten it just right, are inversely proportional to the emotional investment put in by the fans doing the waiting. This is why you should be glad that that Necrophagist album is almost certainly never going to happen, or why you should severely deflate your expectations for a new Tool record.

For those that waited six years for a new Venenum release, I’m happy to say that the band’s stock and skill have suffered no such depreciation. In the time since their self-titled EP, the German band have sharpened their approach to old school death metal and drastically improved their production as well. They’ve even added a few tricks that aren’t as orthodox as their typical reverb-heavy old school sound. “The Nature Of The Ground”, which you can stream below, features two such pivots. First, during the song’s fast paced opening they overdub additional drum fills a la Mayhem on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Second, during the song’s softer bridge the band break from their lockstep approach to tempo for a surprising and gradual accelerando to bring them back to the song’s original speed. These are minor shifts, the rest of their sound is intact even as the specifics have improved. There are other surprises on Trance Of Death, mostly in the three part finale, but none betray the band’s effortless understanding of what makes death metal tick.

Stream “The Nature Of The Ground” below. Trance Of Death is out via The Ajna Offensive on March 17th in the USA. You can follow Venenum on Bandcamp.

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