On one hand, the idea of a fortysomething self-styled macher like Kim Fowley slobbering all over a petite, teenaged Joan Jett is just plain gross. On the other, imagine a bunch of metal guys with their ears wide open, who scheme up a project featuring a frontline of some of the best female singers they can find from all over Europe and Scandinavia. Frontiers Music did that, and the result is Venus 5, whose debut release is streaming at Spotify.
It took a little sleuthing to track down the genesis of the band. Chad Rowar of Heavy Music HQ reports that the label enlisted the trio of Jake E. from Cyhra, Stefan Helleblad of Within Temptation and Per Aldeheim to come up with the songs. Many of them have an early 80s feel: without the heavy guitars, they could be new wave hits. The vocalists, who take turns when they’re not harmonizing, include Infinite & Divine frontwoman Tezzi Persson, Karmen Klinc of Slovenian band the Hellcats, Herma Sick of Sick ‘n Beautiful, Albania’s Erina Seittlari and Serbian Jelena Milovanovic.
Everybody sings in impressively good English. Persson is the most eclectic of the bunch, with a bluesy wail but also a goth side and remarkable subtlety. Sick has a throatier delivery that she uses for accusatory intensity. Seittlari, Milovanovic and Klinc are all clear-voiced and for that matter harder to distinguish, especially when they’re singing together.
They open the record with Lioness, a defiant, minor-key new wave tune in very heavy disguise, A three-guitar section manned by Stefan Helleblad, Aldo Lonobile and Gabriele Robotti deliver the crunch and sailing leads, peppered by Antonio Agate’s squiggly synth.
The five women make a martial frontline in The Simulation, Lonobile channeling David Gilmour in a tantalizingly brief solo. Bassist Dann Arisi snaps and crackles over drummer Alfonso Mocerino’s steady sway in Nothing But a Heartache, Persson’s wounded, pensive vocals joined by her bandmates’ gale-force choir.
The women form a vengeful ghost chorale in Bride With Blackend Eyes, a return to the turbocharged 80s ambience of the album’s opening track. Monster Under Your Bed is just plain funny: imagine a horror-flick Abba with crunchy guitars.
“Every day I keep my pain inside,” is the key line from Inside, as the neoromantic angst rises amid the orchestral swirl and the jackhammer guitars.
Is the single Tom & Mrs. Amy Lee about the mysterious 2021 death of an Australian woman? The Evanescence lead singer and some random dude? You be the judge.
There’s a little sci-fi art-rock flickering through the exchange of voices in Because of You. The “get ready for another war” tagline in We Are Dynamite seems like more of a brag than an omen. Get rid of the roar and slip in a drum machine instead of the big kit on Save You and it could be Beyonce. The final cut, appropriately. is Bury Me. They’ve got it, yeah baby they’ve got it.