Epic progressive atmospheric doom power metal from Sweden. Interested yet? Those familiar with progressive metal and possibly doom metal will know the band Veni Domine, but those of us raised on punk rock, hardcore, with some metal thrown in, may not have heard of them. Put simply, we’ve been missing out. Veni Domine return after a seven year absence with Light, a 9 song, 67 minute album of epic proportions.
Veni Domine began way back in 1987 in Sweden and then took some time before releasing their debut album Fall Babylon Fall in 1992. Perhaps this was a sign of things to come as new albums from Veni Domine sometime take a bit longer than one would expect and certainly longer than fan like to wait. After the debut album, Material Sanctuary was released in 1994, Spiritual Wasteland in 1998, and then III: The Album of Labour in 2004. Speaking before the release of III: The Album of Labour, guitarist Torbjörn indicated much of the music was written and recorded in 2000 but then there were label issues, studios flooding, and a singer with health issues that prolonged the release of that album. Life and business often seem to find a way into things and Veni Domine is no exception to that rule. The album 23:59 (2006) and Tongues (2007) came out in rapid succession but then fans were forced to wait seven long years for Light.
First impressions of Veni Domine are that the vocals sound eerily similar to Geoff Tate’s of Queensryche and musically, one could hear some similarities to Queensryche as well, but there is an unmistakable sense of grandeur in the arrangements that differentiates their overall sound. Keyboards and orchestral backing set the atmosphere throughout the album and fill in the quieter parts when most of the band is silent. The arrangements are one of the strong suits of the band. Blending the metal with the symphonic in a seamless manner as they have done is quite an impressive feat. Every song on the album has that “epic” feel to it and with the exception of one brief transition almost choral piece, all songs on the album are over six minutes long with “In Memorium” even clocking in at nearly twelve minutes. These songs are not for the casual listener in one sense as they do require a bit of time investment, but on the other hand, these are metal songs that can be played in a variety of settings to a variety of audiences and be perfectly accepted.
Much of that is due to the lush arrangements but a good bit of the credit must also be given to the vocals from Fredrik Sjöholm. Comparisons to Geoff Tate aside, Fredrik’s voice is smooth, commanding, and strong and shows great range, although he tends to stay more toward the lower ends of the scale. This is the type of voice made for this style of music. Backing vocals are equally strong and support his vocals very well without either really dominating in the mix. Production quality is excellent, with all instruments clear and at the right level in the mix.
Overall the songs tend to be slower, somber and somewhat dark in tone, consistent with the “doom” label that has been applied to the band. One aspect that did surprise me was how well guitar solos were incorporated into this soundscape. Guitarist Torbjörn Weinesjö has mentioned influences including Rainbow and Deep Purple and since I am a huge Ritchie Blackmore fan, that intrigued me given the genre. In some of the songs I can definitely hear the Blackmore influence, especially in the guitar solos. It is subtle but there. The solos themselves fit within the songs extremely well, which is a testament to the strength of the arrangements.
Light is one of those albums that presents a unique listening experience. On one hand each song is strong and different and can stand on its own, but in another sense, the album works well when presented as a single entity. I did find myself often at a loss to discern what song was being played as on the surface or to the casual listener they all sound similar. Since they are all strong, that is not necessarily a bad thing. When able to give undivided attention to this album or at least listen without too many outside distractions, that’s when the various intricacies of the songs really stand out. Veni Domine have put together an album that is as simple as it is complex.
1. In Memoriam
4. Where the Story Ends
6. Last Silence Before Eternity
7. The Hour of Darkness
9. Oh Great City 2014
Fredrik Sjöholm – Lead Vocals
Torbjörn Weinesjö – Guitars / Backing Vocals / Additional Keyboards
Thomas Weinesjö – Drums
Olov Andersson – Keyboards
“Fall Babylon Fall” 
“Material Sanctuary” 
“Spiritual Wasteland” 
“IIII – The Album of Labour” 
Record Label: Massacre Records, June 2014
Video below ‘Light’ [Promotional video]
Video below ‘In Memorium’