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Album Review: The Demon Joke by Vennart

Vennart (the solo project of Oceansize front man and Biffy Clyro live guitarist Mike Vennart) release their debut album The Demon Joke on 22nd June. Although Mike Vennart plays virtually every note on the album there’s help from percussive powerhouse and Ginger Wildheart alumnus Denzel on drums, Oceansize colleague Gambler (who contributed lashings of sizzling synths), songwriting henchman Steve Durose (who kindly added backing vocals and penned some of the album’s strongest melodies) and a guest vocal turn from Cardiacs associate Jo Spratley complete the picture.

It’s apparent from the off that The Demon Joke is an album where Vennart has thrown off the shackles and done exactly what he wanted. Part huge rock album and part pop album you’ll find glimpses of the structure and expansiveness of Oceansize and the instantaneous hooks of Vennart era Biffy Clyro. Nothing more than glimpses tough, this is its own enthralling beast of an album. In his own words, “Comedy is a kind of lifeline to everyone. But in most good jokes there’s an element of danger. Saying the wrong thing at the right time, or vice versa, can be either enlightening or threatening. I love that sort of dichotomy between creating fun and ruining everything. So comedy is a common thread in the lyrics. There’s a lot of humour in these songs, but also a lot of joy in being able to do whatever I want. There’s moments of beauty but also lots of weird noises and things that are designed to irritate people. I’m very happy with the way it’s turned out”. A perfect summary of the album.

The gentle intro in ‘255’ eases you in, before the huge cutting riffs set up a glorious melody in ‘Doubt’ while ‘Infatuate’ delivers up a storming slab of pop rock. There’s a New Order style quality to the guitars in the latter that work superbly. The guitar line is excellent – connecting with the listener emotionally. ‘Rebirthmark’ is delightfully laidback pop number. Accessible and instantaneous, the synths and piano lend an airy quality that lets the track wash over you while being catchy enough to leave a lasting impression. ‘Duke Farm’ goes into Faith No More territory, think the refined heaviness with a pop undercurrent and you’ll be on the money. ‘Don’t Forget The Joker’ has some gentle guitars that complement Vennart’s rasping vocal superbly, be prepared for shivers.

‘Retaliate’ is a huge rock song. The guitars throb and build before exploding synths sporadically send the track down different paths. The final minute is worth the price of the album alone, the guitar solo sounds insanely impossible and the cacophony of sounds deliver a superb climax. The delicate and fragile ‘A Wait In The Hollow’ is full of emotion and beautiful melodies, pulling at your heartstrings throughout you’d need a heart of stone not to fall in love with it. Although more upbeat, the same feeling is carried through to the album’s strongest track ‘Operate’. Vennart’s vocal shines between the quieter moments and the superb hook, the guitars work towards the huge chorus with subtle intricacies. When the chorus hits you couldn’t ask for more – infectious and hard hitting you’ll be singing along and throwing yourself around before you’ve had one complete listen. Album closer ‘Amends’ blends all of the textures and sounds of the preceding 9 tracks, unsurprisingly the harmony is astounding.

With The Demon Joke, Vennart excels. The freedom to do what he wants lends itself to the feeling of a mad scientist at work, it comes together wonderfully cumulating in a must hear album and one the best 2015 has seen.

AD Rating 9/10

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