Venus Fly Trap - Nemesis

by Gerry Hathaway Rating:3 Release Date:2014-10-21

Emerging from the late 80s goth-rock scene from which bands like The Mission and The Sisters of Mercy were finding mainstream audiences, Venus Fly Trap have carved out their own unique niche where they occasionally thrive, likely due to longevity more than anything. Arriving seven years after their last release, Zenith, Nemesis finds Venus Fly Trap comfortably amalgamating all their previous musical stylings from past releases. In fact, so many genres are thrown together on this release you wouldn't be faulted for assuming the band were suffering from an identity crisis at the time. 

The album opens with the Specimen-meets-Cruxshadows electro-goth club number 'Skullduggery', perfect for double martinis in your favorite smokey bar. However, before you are able to conjure your inner Poe, the new wave rock of 'Absinthe' channels Devo and Blondie. This style continues through to 'Black Magic', and then on to a very tepid cover of 'Human Fly'.

While a goth-rock cover of the classic Cramps tune may seen thematically appropriate, its cold digital presentation and odd instrumentation muddles the stripped-down, visceral nature of the original, thus making it the weakest track on the album. The band's previous psychedelic rock side comes out in full coat and tails with the Syd Barrett-inflected 'Penny Black', sounding more like a 70s ba-rock tune. Nemesis then goes schizophrenic once more on the electro-goth-rock of 'Something Wicked' and 'Jekyll & Hyde'. 

For a group that has been on the scene (well, on their scene anyway) for 26 years, Venus Fly Trap certainly have a lot of experience with various genres of dark rock and electro. However, on Nemesis there is nothing textural, atmospheric, or genuinely enriching about the experience. It's all just mindless fun and would be a great record to get people chatty in a public setting, perhaps even getting a few bodies swaying. 

I mentioned the words 'bar' and 'club' with intent, but that is perhaps a strength for the band. Venus Fly Trap are content with immediacy when it comes to their music, leaving the more rewarding transcendental experiences to their elders.

Nemesis won't likely reel in any new fans, but it is still a solid (if not safe) release for a band that is obviously just having fun at this juncture. After almost three decades, there is nothing wrong with that. 

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