My backlog of releases to cover is pretty substantial right now, but there are a few that I want to highlight sooner rather than later. One of those albums is the debut from Venus Principle, a new band with some familiar faces. The album is called Stand in Your Light, and it released on May 27th.
Venus Principle is a multi-national band, including the UK and Sweden. The lineup is essentially a chunk of the band Crippled Black Phoenix. For me, the most familiar face is Daniel Änghede of ISON (one of my favorite bands) and Hearts of Black Science. He handles vocals and guitars. The lineup also includes: Daisy Chapman on vocals and piano, Jonas Stålhammar on guitars and keyboards, Mark Furnevall on keyboards and backing vocals, Ben Wilsker on drums, and Pontus Blom on bass.
The group that broke away from Crippled Black Phoenix still wanted to make similar music, and so the Venus Principle sound is definitely comparable in some ways. There is a beating heart of classic rock here, especially in the guitar work and soloing, but the music is also substantially dark and shoegaze-y at times. I would even say hints of doom and alternative can be found here, too.
That means the album has a slower, emotive sort of sound. There are plenty of more kinetic moments, but many of the songs hover to allow the vocals or guitars to express themselves. The band has two lead singers, you may have noticed, and the harmonies achieved by Daniel and Daisy are wonderful. Both of them have voices with plenty of character and maturity, so their style gives this album its own gritty twist.
But is it any good? It absolutely is. Stand in Your Light is certainly an album that takes time. I would say that one reason for this is the 1 hour+ runtime. When an album is that long, you expect it to be an epic concept album or something, but this is just a collection of songs. Honestly, the runtime doesn’t do the album any favors in terms of grabbing new fans immediately. Still, patient listeners will find a wealth of melody and emotion below the surface here.
I do think that “Rebel Drones” was the perfect single to choose. The single version is three minutes shorter, though, so it might be surprising to hear the opener take a few minutes longer to hit the ground running, so to speak. The chorus, though, is extremely addictive, and I find myself singing it constantly. The other single, “Shut It Down”, is also a catchy affair, though I will admit that it is one of my least favorites on the album.
My overall favorites are “Barricades”, “Days of Summer”, “Sanctuary”, and the closing title track. There isn’t a bad song on the album, though. “Barricades” is perhaps the unsung hero of the album. The pleasant pace sells it right away, and the classic style of the second-half instrumental just sounds so damn good. It almost has a little Floyd in its veins, and I appreciate that. “Days of Summer” is another hidden gem. It has a doomy or stoner sort of flow to it, and its aura overall is dark, emotional, and nostalgic. I love Daisy’s vocals in particular on that song.
“Sanctuary” has such an abstract atmosphere, and so I’m drawn to it. It builds itself up slowly and surely, and the guitars and keys that rise in the background are undeniably magnetic. It’s one of those songs that you have to stop and just close your eyes to appreciate. One of the best songs on the album is the closer, the title track. I didn’t notice for a few listens how good it really is, though. It is probably the most melodic song here, and the vocals from both Daniel and Daisy are just so well done. I love the delicate, reverential tone, as if the instruments are just barely being played because of the presence of something truly divine and also within. I love that song.
Venus Principle has a great debut on their hands. I like every single song, but some of the songs are truly masterful. I love how the band controls the atmosphere of each song just as tightly as they control each guitar solo or keyboard line. It really does feel like a veteran work, and I have a feeling that more is on the way soon.
Find Venus Principle online: