I’m not here today to review the new Vein Collector “Void Eclipse” album, I will leave that task to my esteemed Wanderlust colleagues. The reason being that Vein Collector mastermind, Dan Guenther, is a close personal friend; as well as the instrumental half of the Death Metal band I sing for, Acts of Swine. So, yeah…I’m not even going to pretend to have an unbiased opinion on the matter. I just want to say a few words, and give a little background on who he is as an artist. Dan Guenther is a cat that I’ve been listening to and admired since I was 16 or 17 years old, when he was playing bass in Euphoric Evisceration, the band that was my gateway into the local underground Death Metal scene of Chicago. Before them, I saw Death Metal as something that came from far away states and foreign countries, I had no idea there were dudes making this kind of music right in my own backyard, so to speak. The band may have been relatively short-lived, but nearly a quarter century later, I’m still singing the praises of the band and its members; but none more so than the man my wife and I affectionately refer to as “Mr. Vein.”
However, I didn’t fully have an appreciation for the man’s level of talent and artistry until I heard the first Vein Collector album, 2012’s “Prophet”. I was never a big fan of Industrial music, but this stuff was so dark and oppressively heavy, mixing Industrial with Black & Death metal elements, which immediately drew me in. Everything that I have heard from him since then, from the big fat OSDM riffs of Acts of Swine, to the sugary sweet Synth-pop of Missing in STARS, to the ethnically influenced Industrial Pop-metal of Dielectrix, has only reinforced the fact that this is an artist with a creativity that cannot be contained or restrained. He’s got bass skills for days, guitar chops to match, he plays synths, he sings, production, mixing, mastering…the guy does it all!
And now, this new album, “Void Eclipse”, has upped the artistic ante to a whole new level. My jaw hit the floor when I heard it. This is one of those albums where you will hear new details that you never noticed each time you listen. All I will say is, I love this album, and anyone that is into Industrial, Black/Death metal, or just has adventurous taste in music will love it too.
I have been collected. You will be too.
I’ll be honest. I didn’t know what to expect from an Industrial project based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. For one thing, Industrial in general has gotten soft in the last decade or so. I used to be into it a lot (in no small part, thanks to a college roommate), but recent releases have drifted more into the realms of the electronic and strayed ever farther from the Dark Punk and Metal roots. For another, Lake Geneva is a small resort city initially built by wealthy Chicagoans. It doesn’t strike me as a place with a strong scene, but what do I know. Another roommate of mine actually hailed from Lake Geneva, and he was certainly into all things dark and heavy. I guess I still haven’t learned not to assume, because Void Eclipse reminds me of the bleak, evil Industrial I fell in love with decades ago in college.
The first name-check that springs to mind is NIN. Like Reznor’s project, Vein Collector is like club music straight from the lowest levels of hell. Now that I’ve made an all too easy comparison, allow me to dig a little deeper. As I’ve already noted, Vein Collector uses the rhythmic bump and grind of club music to great effect, by subverting it to a darker purpose. Unlike projects such as Ministry (NIN and Ministry have often been my two reference points for two distinct strains of Industrial I think I see), with their stronger guitar-driven nods to Metal, this project resides in very danceable rhythms, and then sends you demon hordes to dance with. There are guitars for sure. They’re just not the focus. It is upon this gnarly, vibrant soundscape that mastermind Dan Guenther’s strong vocals rest.
What makes Void Eclipse work so well is the strong sense of atmosphere. Everything from vocals to rhythms to guitars flows so well together, like weaving a spell to call forth the demon horde. Destruction looms just over the horizon, promising an even more bleak future than the horror show where we now reside. It’s really great to dive into this pit of glowing hatred and wretched aggression. It brings me back to the glory days and I’m loving every note of it.
The Great Mackintosh:
I had the pleasure of getting to know Dan Guenther through stumbling across Acts of Swine one day way back, and subsequently having several conversations with both him and his partner in piginess Brian Worth, both very fine chaps indeed whilst also being extremely down to earth for people of such talent. When I found out that he had also been involved in other musical adventures, well of course I had to give them a listen, and onto Vein Collector I went. “Prophet” was and still is an amazing release, but we are here to talk “Void Eclipse”, and drool over what a stunning creation it is.
I described it on first listen as Paradise Lost “Host” era having a love child with Trent Reznor, and although I will stick to that to a fair degree, there is just so much more on offer here that has to be absorbed to just stick to one or two examples no matter how good they may be. Yes, you get Industrial Death/Black for sure, but the way in which Dan injects his very being into the music on offer is palpable, he is a master of everything he touches, and the quality and musicianship on display here defies comparison with anything else on so many levels. This is not just a bunch of songs thrown together to make a quick buck, this is a serious musician pouring everything he has both physically and mentally onto the table for all to hear.
“Void Eclipse” is not a cheery album, not one that you would tip toe through the proverbial tulips with as the soundtrack, no, this is stuff comes from a dark place, a sometimes violent place, a place in the mind where all the demons roost and the only way to exorcise them is by facing them and calling them by name as you put the words to music and drag them kicking and screaming into the light for all to see. No self indulgence on display, this is the real thing. A man fighting the good fight for his very sanity, and doing it the only way he knows how to best, through sound and lyric.
No favourites on here at all, it is highly recommended that you ingest this as a whole, but songs like “Into The Days Of fire” will certainly stir the emotions and get the feet moving, you sure as shit can dance to this stuff if that is your thing, but the dance will be one filled with sharp aggressive movement, not one of subtlety and grace. “Status Of Flight” may invoke images of a Dictator spewing forth his foulness to poison the minds of the masses, and will bludgeon its way into your psyche with the kind of precision that the most skilled neurosurgeon needs to possess.
“Summon Backwards” has an almost Depeche Mode feel to it in moments, but they are holding a blowtorch to the face of the world. “Realm Of Shadows” is bleak and foreboding, atmosphere filled with suspense, just what in the actual fuck is going to happen, why is he toying with us so. A robots nightmare come to life, and just as quickly as the fear builds up there is no real answer, just like in any dream, you are left to ponder its meaning, the final conclusion is yours to make.
“Harvest Fly” see’s Dan at his most NIN, and by that I mean when Trent was wearing his heart on his sleeve and at his peak, not like some of the more diluted angst he has delivered in later years.”The Final Bell” packs one hell of a digital wallop, more anger and vitriol pouring from a soul that has had enough, seen enough, endured enough. More demons crucified and lined up for all to see their lies and cowardice, their very flesh melting from their tortured bodies in the blazing light of the truth, the honesty of the act of throwing them forth for all to see. Heavy stuff indeed with no quarter or mercy shown, as it should be.
“Finalized” heads down a dark and Gothic path, full of solid riffs and mystery, invoking the previous comparison to the mighty Paradise Lost, and “Traces Of The End” follows suit. Even traces of Fear Factory in their more mellow moments to be found within, and an utterly magnificent and atmospheric way to take what is an utterly magnificent album out.
If there ever is a Blade Runner 3, I want this man to get the job for the soundtrack. He has all the right elements to produce the deep, the dark, the futuristic, the atmosphere that such a thing would surely require. This album deserves to be heard by ANY fan of the darker side of music, be they into Electronica, Death, Black, Extreme, whatever. This is a man giving his all, and that alone deserves a ton of respect, the music speaks for itself, I highly suggest you give it a shot. Yes, I didn’t mention the first song “Seek Soul” for a reason, you can let it be your gateway drug into this, because it WILL introduce you into a world of new and fantastic experiences without a shadow of a doubt.
TMW Group rating – 5/5