It occurred to me the other day that German death metallers Venenum have been silent for way too long, so I decided to perform a quick research on their current activities and see what they have been up to lately, considering that I was, and still am, a big fan of their eponymous EP from 2011. To my surprise, I have found out that the band’s virtual presence is literally nonexistent, without any social media tool to keep fans updated, but instead I have learned about Division Speed, a side project of Venenum’s drummer Aggressive Perfector. So, out of sheer boredom and curiosity, I have picked Division Speed’s debut up, without having any expectations from it whatsoever, only to find myself rather surprised with such a relentless, high-octane thrashing, that is as melodic and ear-friendly as it is fast and aggressive.
And let me tell you, Division Speed are fast alright. Apart from a minute long acoustic instrumental track Solemn Vigil, there is literally not a single song on this album in which these guys slow their pace. Still, those numerous beautiful lead sequences and complex, frisky arrangements, that are delivered with competent and tight musicianship, easily compensate for the lack of variety tempo-wise. Songs are not too long, slightly over three minutes in average, and are filled with just enough ideas to effortlessly flow one after another, making for a pleasant listening experience.
As for the aesthetics, Division Speed are all about the second World War, both in terms of their lyrics and visual presentation. That being said, I find this particular Paolo Girardi’s piece by far the most unusual one of his career, presumably due to very precise guidelines he received from the band. He was obviously out of his comfort zone while working on this, which resulted in completely morbidity-free painting, and I can only imagine how much of a stranger that must have been to Paolo.
Of course, the album has its weak sides as well. First of all, even though overall impression of production is generally positive, it’s impossible not to notice that bass could have been slightly less drowned in the mix, but that’s a minor issue. Much bigger and more substantial weakness of Division Speed’s eponymous debut is the lack of riffs that stay with you after the record is done. As I said above, songs are eventful enough to keep your attention occupied while the ride is on, but I bet that even after two spins in a row one wouldn’t be able to memorize a single riff on this album. After no less than five, the only moments I can vaguely recollect are a chorus of Blazing Heat and an Iron Maiden influenced lead that takes place during the last minute of Schwarze Scharen.
Still, even though I wouldn’t grant it the highest praise possible, the bottom line is that there are much more pros than cons with regards to Division Speed’s debut and, as such, it definitely deserves to be recommended to everybody who likes honest and dexterous thrash metal.
(High Roller Records, 2015)