Review: The Venus De Melos – NOVO

Imagine a more contemplative CHON but with an angel’s voice on top of the music. Doesn’t the mere idea of it give you goosebumps? Well, goosebump no more, because The Venus De Melos is here! A one-man project from Brooklyn, creating beautiful math-rock with a Mars Volta-esque twist on it.

The second Mikhail Kokirtsev began singing, I was under the charm of his voice. At first unsure if it was a dude or a gal singing, because of how natural his high-pitched voice sounds – it doesn’t sound too forced or in falsetto – I was then impressed by the fact that it’s indeed an X-Y human singing. After a little instrumental introduction, we’re hit by the beauty of Cryogenic Dreams, and it’s there that we feel it’s CHON with vocals the strongest, if you stripped the lead guitars off of their songs. Then, the aforementioned Mars Volta-esque twist happens when the third song, Meliorism starts. Much less contemplative and much more in-your-face, this song is where Mikhail chooses to put a bit of spicy in his sound. The vocals are dynamic, energetic, and truly reminds me of some of Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s best moments. The song in itself is like a mental breakdown, which is how I’d describe The Mars Volta to somebody who’ve never heard of them. These two songs are pretty much the antipodes of what you’ll find on NOVO. If you exclude the instrumental songs, all other tracks are somewhere in-between Cryo and Melio.

Musically, it’s pretty much straightforward math-rock. There’s use of uncommon time signatures, the ones you commonly find in other math-rock outfits. There are, however, cool polyrhythmic moments, like in Shores of Time, which even features screamed/growled vocals! The melodies are solid, and the songwriting is good and puts the singing at the forefront, even when there are somewhat crazy guitar parts beneath it all. The weak point of the album, to me, are the drums. Although I can totally accept the fact that they are programmed and serves more as a backing track to the guitars and vocals than as a focal point. In the end it’s a matter of tastes. The drums are not to my taste, but they don’t deteriorate the experience of the album.

It’s a really great debut album from a welcomed newcomer in the math corner! Really, check it out!