Venus In Aries
Beyond The Veil
Glitch Mode Recordings
Using words like “poppy” and “catchy” might feel like a backhanded compliment in the context of discussing records with an ostensibly industrial genealogy. But for every band who claim to be consciously eschewing memorable songwriting out of aesthetic principle, there’s also a band (possibly the same one) who are using the markers of experimentalism to mask an inability to actually write songs. Neither case applies to New York’s Venus In Aries, whose debut uses an even balance of programming and guitars to highlight Verena May’s considerable talents as a vocalist, and is, yes, poppy and catchy, dammit.
Beyond The Veil certainly carries the markers of the Glitch Mode crew; crisp instrumentation which borrows from classic American coldwave and updates it with hyper-kinetic genre-hopping. But Beyond The Veil succeeds primarily on the basis of May’s vocal presence, which threads the needle of the songs’ pop-inspired ambitions. Retributive anthem “Justice” could easily be morose or indulgent coming from someone else, but May finds a way to deliver a personal statement of purpose in foot-tapping form. The slinky “My Dear Parasite” rests almost entirely on May’s languid enunciation, which is a knockout even if, like me, you don’t speak a lick of the Portugese the track’s delivered in. The pensive “Never Enough” is more straight-forward in structure and execution, but again May plays her vocals to the hooks of the song, taking on a powerful, Toni Halliday-like tone in the process.
More often than not, guitars or heavily processed sequences are utilized to accent shifts in song structure or underscore May’s vocals (as in the jackhammer stutters which come in on the speedy chorus of “Burst”), but there’s the odd tune where the grind and stomp is the operating force of the track; the title track finds May adorning a squared-in stomp with Cronenberg-pastiche, and the penultimate and near-instrumental “Severed” relies entirely on the atmosphere created between foreboding war drums. But these are the exception to the rule; the vocals stay in the center for most of the record.
The relative brevity of the record matches up with that philosophy of service to song; each of the songs has enough to distinguish them from their fellows, and given that there are only eight across a run time that just scrapes thirty minutes, Beyond The Veil‘s personality and punch get across quickly and potently. May’s vocal chops alone would be enough to make the record engaging, but tied to a suite of tunes as catchy as these they become a force to be reckoned with. Recommended.