After an intermission of four years, The French melodic progressive metal outfit Venturia have released their third album Dawn Of A New Era. The debut album The New Kingdom appeared in 2006 followed by Hybrid in 2008. The reasons for this long break were the release of Naked Thoughts From A Silent Chaos, an album by Venturia's guitarist, keyboardist, vocalist and composer Charly Sahona in 2010, and the departure of two original band members. After this last event Sahona had the choice of finding a new lead singer or doing the vocals himself. The latter option was not only the easiest, but probably also the best since his voice is one to be heard. Apart from founder member Charly Sahona, Venturia consist of Lydie Lazulli (vocals), Thomas James Potrel (bass) and Frederic Marchal (drums).
With the departure of the previous vocalist Marc Ferreira, the focus shifted a bit more to the female vocals of Lazulli. Combined with the slightly more accessible voice of Charly Sahona, the overall sound now tends to the popular side of prog metal from bands like Dream Theater and Pain Of Salvation. I think this is a natural progression of a band on their way up. In the opening song Devil In Disguise, the combination of the two voices can already be heard which works very well in my opinion. In the background the heavy drums sound perfect and a slightly hidden keyboard reminded me a bit of the German band Rammstein. The second song Secret Dream is a somewhat relaxed composition. Here Lazulli excels with her powerful though melodic vocals slightly in the vein of Evanescence.
In the opening of A New Dawn Rising I enjoyed the specific sound of Charly Sahona's speedy guitar sound, just like in the previous songs. What an incredible speed this man has! Here the power riffs contrast nicely with the more melodic vocals of the two singers. A modern mix finishes this song, which make it a great addition to the album. The next song What We're Here For is dominated by an ultra-heavy guitar and bass with again a fine balance between the instrumental and the vocal parts. At first the impressive solo seems to be made by a keyboard, but gradually the sound can be recognized as a guitar. The killer riffs and vocals remind me a bit of Nightwish, but with better singing. What If I is a slower song slightly influenced by gothic rock. It's one of the songs that might get highly acclaimed when getting airplay, something which Venturia really deserve.
Phoenix is dark and moody with a hardly recognizable, but pleasant sounding keyboard in the background. The double bass drums are constantly audible. Together with the bass parts and the low tuned guitar this is another nice song. Spiritual Path shows that Venturia are not only a powerful prog metal band, because the acoustic parts combined with the bass make sure this song is something special. The voice of Charly Sahona sounds a bit as Muse here, but together with Lydie Lazulli's soft and emotional voice this combination works pretty well. The last piece A Land Of Dreams is also the longest: seven minutes and fourteen seconds of progressive metal. The style of Lydie's singing shifts a bit towards Anneke van Giersbergen's style. It also sounds quite similar to the theatrical side of metal. A furious guitar solo gently flows to the relaxing end of this album.
Venturia have released their best album so far. It's accessible for all progressive metal fans who won't be discouraged by the sound of a female voice. The male and female vocalists work perfectly together and their melodic singing combined with the powerful instrumentalists score a bull's-eye.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Peter Willemsen)
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