Veonity – Into the Void (Sliptrick Records)Wednesday, 7th December 2016
In the late 1990’s, a series of European power metal bands made major strides to release valiant product. Chances are records like Return to Heaven Denied, Visions, and Ecliptica fight for airplay today in your favored listening station, premiere efforts for Labyrinth, Stratovarius, and Sonata Arctica respectively. As of late, the genre has seemed to stray into more of an elaborate, symphonic course – orchestral sequences going toe to toe against the normal musical proceedings. Sweden’s Veonity aim to reclaim the power and glory of that bygone period, together since 2013 and issuing a debut album Gladiator’s Tale two years later – bringing us very quickly up to speed for the follow up full-length, Into the Void.
Checkmarks abound for key reference points that insure maximum appeal for ardent power followers: the double bass kicks and exemplary fill work from Joel Kollerg, uplifting guitar lines that contain culturally moving notes for sing-a-long audience moments when aired live, choir-oriented choruses that can be replicated at one beer or a twelve pack in the consumption chain, and chase sequences between the guitars and keyboards when called for. Lead guitarist Samuel Lundström unleashes a firestorm of licks, tricks, sweeps, and taps – studying the greats in the business from Hansen/Weikath on through to Timo Tolkki for “When Humanity Is Gone” and “Solar Storm”. The main musical hooks have a lot of that early Nocturnal Rites spitfire, check out “A New Dimension” as well as the twin guitar action throughout “Until the Day I Die” to feel that beaming warrior spirit resonate through the galaxy.
What’s refreshing about Veonity is the sparse use of keyboards – the guitar play takes center stage along with a solid rhythm section, placing the focus on tight songwriting and intuitive transitions for maximum soccer chant-like audience participation. One listen to the Helloween-esque title cut and you would be hard pressed to not throw up the devil horns and ‘hey hey’ at all the right places. A conceptual themed record tackling a dying Earth refugee who discovers new life and hope in deep space conjures parallels to Iron Savior- so it shouldn’t be surprising that Piet Sielck makes a vocal guest appearance for the heavier, straightforward-oriented “Awake”. Guitarist Anders Sköld takes over the microphone from the session singers used on the debut – his delivery clear, stronger in a mid-range manner, but able to hit some eagle high falsettos if need be (the Hammerfall-ish “Heart on Fire” best evidence before the lead break) which includes a brief bass break courtesy of Kristoffer Lidre.
In the end, Into the Void contains the right power riffs, solid choruses, and dynamic mid-tempo to slightly faster material that gets hearts racing and appeases those who’ve missed this movement a la the German and Swedish acts who brought it to glory in the 1990’s.