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Venrez – Purgatory Awaits

Venrez
Purgatory Awaits
by Mark Machlay at 17 May 2022, 1:49 AM

Los Angeles hard rock quartet VENREZ released their latest EP “Purgatory Awaits” via Pavement Entertainment this past February 2022. The fully American rock band formed in 2009 and comprises of Ven – as he is known by his friends – on lead vocals, Jason Womack on guitar and backing vocals who has played with the likes of FUEL and JULIETTE LEWIS AND THE LICKS, Victor Singer on drums, and Gabe Maska on bass who has become a fixture along the Sunset Strip playing many of The Sunset and Ultimate Jam shows. The band has released four well-received and highly reviewed LPs beginning with their debut album “Sell the Lie” in 2012 which was their introduction and garnered them many comparisons to the Seattle scene of the 1990’s. Their follow-up came quickly with “American Illusion” in 2013, garnering the single “Intellectual Drool” which Ven wrote the lyrics to the day after it was announced that Bin Laden was killed. “Children of the Drones” came in 2015 supported by tours with MICHAEL SCHENKER, ENUFF ZNUFF, and LA GUNS with fourth album “Element 115” coming in mid-2018. The latter was released with some new material with some tracks leftover from the previous album sessions to fill a void during when the band was not touring significantly.

Now, after several years and a global pandemic to mine for motivation and creative fuel, VENREZ are back but in a much shorter package than previously. However, the band asserts that they are at the top of their game with “Purgatory Awaits” with Ven himself saying, “this EP is some of the best material we have written and recorded. I believe new listeners will feel like damn this sounds like something I have heard before then quickly realize they haven’t. I do write the lyrics; Jason Womack writes the music. I do not intentionally put hidden nuggets in my lyrics. I write from my soul and some songs are of past experiences which fans will not know exactly who and why I am writing the song although they will relate as so many experience the same things. Open to interpretation I say.” The EP is three years in the making, featuring guest drums from Stephen Perkins of JANE’S ADDICTION and PORNO FOR PYROS. Also, the song “Each and Every Day” was mixed by Malcom Springer who has worked with bands such as TANTRIC, COLLECTIVE SOUL, and MATCHBOX TWENTY.

VENREZ packed a couple of punchy, throwback-sounding tunes into their six-track “Purgatory Awaits”, reminding of equal parts, SOUNDGARDEN, ALICE IN CHAINS, and 90s-00s era SILVERCHAIR it brought me back to my youth and teenage years. Ven has labeled there music as “Epic Alternative Rock” and I’d say that’s a bit apt but maybe too grandiose for what are fairly simple no-nonsense songs. Where I would agree with him more is that this is arguably the most consistent songwriting from the band to date. On their previous albums, it seemed to have a bit of filler to them and keeping the track listing concise seems to bring out the best from the band. Opening track “Show Me” is taken right out of the 90s and would be a perfect addition to skater kid’s burned cd playlist with the urgency of the chorus’s refrain “Show me here, show me there, get out of my hair!” and ends with lots of fuzzed and washed out guitar leads. Then “Evil Words” and “Gin Fuzz” properly bring the mood down more introspective with a heavy groove and the latter ending with more laid-back guitar lines. Then “Each and Every Day” tunnels like a freight train with reinvigorated energy, thundering down the line. But, where they really surprise is with the final track ATM Machine adds more vocal layering like that of Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell and a much more fuzzed out guitar line. I was prepared to say this was average alternative rock and not give it a second glance given the relative monotone of Ven’s voice, but the varied tracks really surprised me and I will say it again, it is probably the band’s best work to date.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Show Me
2. Evil Words
3. Gin Fizz
4. Each and Every Day
5. Cartoons on Television
6. ATM Machine
Lineup:
Ven – Lead Vocals
Jason Womack – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Victor Singer – Drums
Gabe Maska – Bass
Record Label: Pavement Entertainment
     


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Edited 07 July 2022
 

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