Review | Venomous 8 “Welcome to the Deadlight City”

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Venomous 8 wanted to showcase how “cool” heavy metal music is however a couple of missteps ended up making this debut CD sound far from impressive.

Introduction

THE LAST METAL is an original 2D music project created by Vul Productions, counting with character designs by Makoto Senzaki.

According to Vul Productions, THE LAST METAL is a project under the themes of “Authentic heavy metal music” x “Voice actors/actors” x “Revenge drama“.

The project has 1 band in its ranks called Venomous 8. The band has 4 vocals (Kent Ito, Ryota Suzuki, Arthur Lounsbery, and Keisuke Ueda). To read more about this project, including synopsis and characters, please CHECK THIS ARTICLE.

Review

Title: Welcome to the Deadlight City
Release date: 26/01/2022
Label: VUL PRODUCTIONS
Genre: Heavy Metal/Power metal/Symphonic Metal

Tracklist:

1 - Welcome to the Deadlight City
2 - R.I.P.
3 - Welcome to the Deadlight City -instrumental-
4 - R.I.P. -instrumental-

Track by track analysis:

1 – Welcome to the Deadlight City

Twin guitars lead the way for this shredding old-school metal tune. “Welcome to the Deadlight City” brings to the spotlight insane guitar riffs, a pounding bassline, and mid-tempo snary drums.

The verses follow a classic metal structure, being intense right off the bat, focusing on the groove set by the drums and bass while slowly building up tension to a chorus in which the listener will feel compelled to sing along.

Guitar solo enthusiasts will absolutely love the guitar solo. Actually, the whole bridge is insane and will wake up after a set of verses + choruses that sounded the same throughout.

The high-pitched vocals led by Kent Ito lead the charge for another powerful chorus and outro. However, perhaps due to intentional mixing, Arthur Lounsbery and Keisuke Ueda are barely audible, with only Ryota Suzuki – powering his way as a baritone – managing to stand out facing the obvious focus on Ito’s vocals.

In old-school fashion, the song has an instrumental outro wrapping up with a sustained, fading note on the synth.

2 – R.I.P.

R.I.P.” cranks up the tension and goes loud and aggressive while welcoming symphonic rock and speed metal to the spotlight.

This is a fast song with the drums creating, alongside the strings, an epic sound that will make goosebumps all over you when the chorus arrives. Once again, the technicality on the guitar end is impressive, with the guitars easily stealing the show in the instrumental.

The verses have an interesting duality. There is a comfortable mid-tempo in the first half of the verse but the second half – leading to the pre-chorus and chorus – raises the tension and increases the speed, with guitars, bass, and drums making sure you’re overwhelmed in this epic sonic journey.

Strings serve as a fantastic contrast to the groovy and speedy instrumental (just pay attention to that work on the drums, especially on the bass drum, it is insane), adding a layer of beauty in the middle of a gritty and rugged metal sound.

To follow the epic vibe that “R.I.P.” has in its instrumental, the vocals had to be dramatic. And you do get that in this performance, there is a rawness to the individual parts, and the unison parts – yet again, murky – are more about screaming the lyrics more so than cleaning singing those.

While the instrumental is really gripping and exciting, the vocals end up palling in comparison yet again.


Final considerations

Fans of rock music, especially metal, don’t have many options available within 2D music.

Few are the bands or groups that dare embrace a heavier rock sound and no bands or groups had dared before to explore classic heavy metal.

That’s until THE LAST METAL’s Venomous 8 released “Welcome to the Deadlight City”.

As someone that grew up listening to 70s and 80s music, with heavy metal music basically being the soundtrack to my childhood (Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Rainbow, etc.), listening to the songs in “Welcome to the Deadlight City” feels incredibly nostalgic – including good and bad flashes of nostalgia.

But mostly bad flashes of nostalgia. Frustrating flashes of bad nostalgia.

Like in all other music genres, there are bad and good points to heavy metal music.

Venomous 8 however, seems to have focused a bit too much on the bad points.

Their sound is far from impressive and way too “safe” and “by the book”, giving off strong vibes of those copycat heavy metal bands in the 80s. The title track is a bit of a drag midway through, with verses and choruses sounding almost the same. The lack of dynamic, of changes in the tension within the instrumental is odd.

A good thing is that technicality is still there, being an obvious strong point in this CD.

If you love shredding guitar solos, you have those. If you fancy drums that never take a breather, adding a massive groove to the compositions, you have those.

Basslines that sound insanely technical? Yes, this single has those. A proper nod to the 80s with the synth melodies in the background? It has that.

VUL PRODUCTIONS didn’t spare its budget, bringing in real 80s heavy metal legends (that worked with Rainbow, Shortino and more) to play and compose the songs and you notice that by the sheer technicality in both songs.

But that technicality and quality in the instrumental side are never met on the vocal end despite how balanced this lineup appears to be.

This is something that surprised me. I was expecting the vocals to be on par with the music – perhaps even sounding better – but honestly, both songs sound way better in their instrumental versions which is… something I never expected to write in my life.

The title track, “Welcome to the Deadlight City”, is all about its groove. The bassline and drum work set the stage for the twin guitars to shred their way in what is an insanely technical display. Those guitar riffs – and then the solo – are brilliant and will have you on the edge of the seat.

What made the song subpar – despite the classic instrumental – were 2 things: how uninventive the song was, and how there is way too much focus on unison.

Metal fans, especially those that still listen to 80s metal, will easily point out hundreds of songs that sound exactly like this one.

Exactly as this one.

So there’s nothing groundbreaking about the sound. While that wasn’t required and sounding “classic” is a good thing that shows care and respect for the good old days of metal music, at the same time, it makes the song immediately sound dated.

This is something I believe may end up working against the project that is actively trying to showcase how “cool” metal music is to newcomers (supposedly the new generations of 2D music fans). Sounding dated can only go as far when it comes to attracting new fans to metal music.

Then you have the excess focus on unison that made Keisuke Ueda and Arthur Lounsbery almost completely “disappear” from the vocal mix. Juggling 4 vocals in a heavy metal band is not unheard of, however, the way it was accomplished with Venomous 8 was, for the lack of a better word, clumsy.

While there are solo parts in the verses, the chorus is fully performed in unison – with Kent Ito leading the charge, being the only member that sounds clear and highlighted in the final mix – something that makes the whole “4-vocal heavy metal band” gimmick trip over itself.

If you didn’t know this was a 4-vocal heavy metal band, you’d be fooled into thinking Venomous 8 has 1 frontman and 3 backup singers (quite possibly the guitarist, bassist, and drummer that join in the chorus to sing along like in 80s metal or today’s power metal). This is what the final vocal mix in this song gives off.

Issues aside, as far as “easy-listening” heavy metal goes, “Welcome to the Deadlight City” is up there, being a simple introduction to the music genre.

Wrapping up this single is “R.I.P.”. This song brought something a bit different to the spotlight: speed metal and symphonic metal.

As a result, this song has a sound akin to DragonForce and Helloween, although never accomplishing the level of epicness those two giants in power metal achieve time and time again.

Still, this is the best song on this CD. Meant for the moshpit, to shout and sing along. To headbang to. This song goes hard and sounds epic at all times.

The vocals – aside from the bridge part that is the highlight in this single – drag the quality down, lacking emotion and a connection with what is being sung. It is weird but it feels like Keisuke Ueda and Ryota Suzuki were not feeling anything during this performance. Either that or the vocals mix is bloody awful.

All in all, Venomous 8 had big ambitions of making heavy metal a “cool” thing within the 2D music panorama. Those were exciting and I was really hoping they could pull that off and show that, yes, heavy metal is awesome and can be of really high quality. It is music that moves people, that makes them forget about their worries, unleash their anger and have fun.

However, as soon as you hit play in this single, it is clear that this project doesn’t know exactly what it wants to achieve.

Is it to put the spotlight on old glories of the heavy metal scene by bringing them in to compose/play songs for Venomous 8?

Is it on making the seiyuu stand out for their versatility as singers that can tackle heavy metal music?

Is it about the 2D aspects of the project (the story and characters)?

That focus is nowhere near the story, characters, or the seiyuu, at least, that’s what I got from this single.

You can hear that in how the old heavy metal glories composing the music only focused on showing off – completely overshadowing the vocals – and how the vocals were badly directed, making 4 good singers sound like they didn’t know what they were doing in the recording booth.

As a massive fan of heavy metal music and seiyuu, this is frustrating to hear (or have to listen to), to say the least.

All in all, THE LAST METAL overpromised and ended up underdelivering on their promise to make heavy metal music sound “cool” and “interesting” through Venomous 8’s “Welcome to the Deadlight City”.


Welcome to the Deadlight City” is available for purchase at CDJAPAN.


Welcome to the Deadlight City” is available for streaming on Spotify.


Do not support piracy. Remember to support Venomous 8 by streaming via official outlets.

REVIEW OVERVIEW

Welcome to the Deadlight City
R.I.P.

SUMMARY

While with good ideas and intentions at its core, Venomous 8's "Welcome to the Deadlight City" is a bloody mess. The focus is on the instrumentals-only however, those only shine when it's time for the shredding and highly technical guitar solos. To make things worse, the vocals were mixed in a way that no one really sounds good. It seems like THE LAST METAL franchise focused too much on appeasing the egos of the legends of old in the heavy metal scene that were invited to write, compose and play these songs instead of focusing on presenting the project in an exciting way, with engaging performances - even if to the expense of quality on the instrumental side. As a result, the heavy metal sound in this single is boring, disconnected, and dated. The performances lack emotion and enthusiasm. As a whole "Welcome to the Deadlight City" is a frustrating entry that completely trips over itself while trying to look (and sound) cool.
Vanessa Silva
Vanessa Silvahttps://www.handthatfeedshq.com
The Hand That Feeds HQ founder, content creator, and music reviewer. Basically, the only person managing everything at The Hand That Feeds HQ. Stumbling upon Mamoru Miyano's "Orpheus" in 2011 was the start of this journey. If music is thought-provoking or deep, you may find her writing almost essays (not limited to, but it happens a lot with Soma Saito's music). She's the producer and host of the male seiyuu-centric podcast, SEIYUU LOUNGE (see Spotify link in this profile).

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While with good ideas and intentions at its core, Venomous 8's "Welcome to the Deadlight City" is a bloody mess. The focus is on the instrumentals-only however, those only shine when it's time for the shredding and highly technical guitar solos. To make things worse, the vocals were mixed in a way that no one really sounds good. It seems like THE LAST METAL franchise focused too much on appeasing the egos of the legends of old in the heavy metal scene that were invited to write, compose and play these songs instead of focusing on presenting the project in an exciting way, with engaging performances - even if to the expense of quality on the instrumental side. As a result, the heavy metal sound in this single is boring, disconnected, and dated. The performances lack emotion and enthusiasm. As a whole "Welcome to the Deadlight City" is a frustrating entry that completely trips over itself while trying to look (and sound) cool.Review | Venomous 8 "Welcome to the Deadlight City"