VENEFIXION “A Sigh From Below”

By Lord Randall

Simmering since 2013, with a demo, EP, and split release with Belgium’s POSSESSION to its name, the black magic Bretons VENEFIXION now prepare to turn up the heat with debut full-length, “A Sigh From Below”.

After the Obligatory Intro Track ™, ‘Veneficial Upheaval’ gets things rolling, and roll they do. Heads, tanks, freaking boulders chasing Indiana Jones. If it can be rolled, it’s in motion. The one-sheet for ASFB mentioned “swagger”, and it wasn’t wrong, the riff/rhythm at 2:01-2:24 is the stuff of which blood orgies are made. Bits of early DEATH pepper ‘Of Wolves And Ghosts’, albeit filtered through a near blackthrash attack ala NIFELHEIM, but it’s ‘Ways To The Netherworld’ that slithers into these ears, chaotic, cataclysmic, but never losing that sense of memorability I hold dear.

‘Clavicula Salomonis’ falters, but ‘Summoned And Defiled’ picks up the slack, the ragged rumble of the quintet’s forefathers being conjured forth. Unexpectedly – and a sign of the band putting the album format to use wisely – ‘Subterranean Deathspell’ succeeds in its somber, ritualistic tone, just on the forward side of simple filler, an interlude in its own right, and fitting here. At 3:44, ‘Aghori’s Ashes Of The Dead’ is one of the debut’s standouts, despite being the shortest actual song on offer, a blend of early DISMEMBER (think "Indecent And Obscene") bludgeoning and staccato speed/thrash riff work.

The expansive, 7+-minute ‘As Light Goes Astray’ culminates “A Sigh From Below”, a whirling mass of all that’s come before, and, quite simply, one of the best album finales I’ve come across in death metal this year. Vocals shift, the pace moves from frantic flail to ponderous plod, and it all, somehow, works. Had this been anywhere else on the album, it may not have, or not as well.

A solid first showing, but with room to grow, which isn’t always a bad thing.