Review: Venera ‘Venera’

Many moons ago I was an avid Korn fan, at the time I was amazed by the uniqueness of the band’s sound and the fact that they managed to spawn an entire genre nu metal as a result. I departed the Korn train around the time of 1999’s Issues and haven’t jumped back on board since. However, I was intrigued about Venera and seeing Ipecac Recordings involvement knew that at the very least it would be interesting.

Venera 'Venera' Artwork
Venera ‘Venera’ Artwork

Venera are a duo comprised of Korn guitarist James ‘Munky’ Shaffer and Atlanta-based composer/filmmaker Chris Hunt who joined forces around 2022 while working on songs for Albanian-born Los Angeles-based dark electro-pop artist Xhoana X. As for the band’s name, I understand it to be Russian for Venus and further research reveals it to be the ‘name given to a series of space probes developed by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1984 to gather information about the planet Venus’ (Wikipedia).

Brian Eno’s Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks was the first thing that came to mind when hearing Alignment. Considering the band’s name, its unsurprising that the track would take on a spacey hue and have a distinctive ambient vibe, albeit of the darker kind (ala Lustmord). A captivating opener. Erosion is the first of two tracks to feature powerhouse drummer Deantoni Parks (Mars Volta/John Cale) and it’s a little more confrontational in tone with the sound adopting a more Industrial flavour. There’s also a Glitch influence to the track that places it within the realms of Warp Records artists such as Autechre. A fantastic piece.

Ochre features a soothing vocal performance from Jacob Duzsik of the experimental noise-rock outfit Health and recalls the trip-hop of Massive Attack from around the time of Mezzanine. That album saw the Bristol collective inspired by the coldness of late ‘70s/early ‘80s post-punk and there is certainly an early Siouxsie and the Banshees influence present here too, making it a certifiable aural treat.

Swarm, the first single from the album, is described in the promotional notes as having been enigmatically launched by the duo, with ‘no information or pre-sale, a mysterious screed and a pulsating black-and-white video…’. The track gives away nothing, instead feeling anonymous and inscrutable which is probably the desired effect.

On Disintegration, the longest track on the album at over five minutes long, the aforementioned Deantoni Parks makes yet another appearance. His fantastic free jazz style drumming elevates the track, injecting a sense of chaos that help prevent the whole affair from becoming altogether too cozy. Hologram, the second single to be lifted from the album, features Rizz of the Australian industrial rock outfit Vowws on vocals/piano. Both her ethereal vocals and the hypnotic beats on offer once again tap into the world of trip-hop, but there are also moments that recall Nine Inch Nails during their more introspective moments. Delightful.

Surrender is dreamy and positively shimmers, sonically evoking the warm sensation one experiences when falling in love, while Triangle features the distinctive vocals of the legendary Alain Johannes that bare a passing resemblance to both David Sylvian’s post Japan output as well as David Bowie’s final album Blackstar. Mournful, sombre, its bloody fantastic in any case. Helium is some My Bloody Valentine shoegaze loveliness, swirls of glorious noise and reverb that will delight fans of both that band and genre. A sublime way to conclude the album.

I enjoyed Venera far more than I was expecting or had a right to in fact. Whereas before I was merely curious, now I’m enraptured. I may even be persuaded to give Korn another go, maybe.

Label: Ipecac Recordings
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Scribed by: Reza Mills