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Thursday, April 3, 2008

New Band To Burn One To-Venomin James


Venomin James's music recalls classic bands like Black Sabbath, Cream, and Led Zeppelin, and contemporary sounds like Kyuss, Down, C.O.C., Acid Bath, and Entombed. The band describes their music as "Stoner Metal" or "Heavy Doomrock".

On Venomin James' debut album, "Left hand man", some of the doom-soaked themes are directly influenced by vocalist Jim Meador's experiences serving as a Sergeant in Iraq. Meador is one of thousands who are now haunted by memories of intense violence and the unforgiving ugliness of war. Political statements, however, are notably absent. Within the lyrics of such songs as "Abu Ghraib" and "Downer", there are only lyrical snapshots of what soldiers face on a day-to-day basis. The album's lyrics as a whole act as a conduit for Meador's repressed emotions, attempting to exorcise demons and ghosts plaguing his thoughts. The overriding arc of "Left Hand Man" deals not only with violence and war, but also of situations existing within contemporary society.

Says Meador of the themes present in Venomin James' music: "There is an apocalyptic vibe everywhere these days. Mass media, news, art, music, the stock market, and even our environment is soaked with the feeling of impending doom." He adds, "I think our music reflects the uncertainty, fears and confusion of this generation."

When Meador returned to the States after his tour was up, he sought an outlet. He had faced his mortality and was ready to speak about it. In the spring of 2006, the band Venomin James were seeking a vocalist that would compliment their heavy, doomrock sound.

Guitarists Tomasz Scull and Joe Fortunato grew up as ravenous listeners of classic guitar rock and heavy metal. Bassist Erin Corcoran combines Geezer Butler's style from early Sabbath, with groove and tasteful dynamics. Drummer Jared Koston brings precision and power, a highlight to the band's hybrid metal sound. Meador's angry and introspective lyrics fit well with Venomin James' doom-laden music, and some of his harsh and more questioning observations communicate the group's more brutal and frantic pieces.

Venomin James is also heavily inspired by their home, the historic Kirtland area of eastern Cleveland, Ohio. Known as "Kultland" by the locals, Kirtland has a strange, esoteric past that reads like the gothic horror of Lovecraft or Poe. From the first Mormon temple in 1836 to the 1989 Lundgren cult slayings, there is a sense of mysticism and foreboding in the area - even the air feels noticeably colder as you travel through certain parts. "You know when you're in Kirtland because you feel it in your bones," says guitarist Joe Fortunato, "and our music embodies that feeling."

Venomin James has shared the stage with a variety of respected acts, including: Ringworm, Fu Manchu, Brand New Sin, Seemless, Unearthly Trance, Mushroomhead, Bad Wizard, Early Man, 3 Inches of Blood, facedowninshit, Artimus Pyledriver, Abdullah, and Red Giant.



Number 10 On 10 Bands to Watch in 2008

If Clutch and Alice in Chains had a baby raised by Kyuss and Cream, this would be Venomin James. The band - drummer Jared Koston, singer Jim Meador, guitarist Tom Scull, bassist Erin Corcoran and guitarist Joe Fortunato - released Left-Hand Man at the end of 2007. With lyrics transcribed from Meador's wartime journal (he served in Iraq), the themes are tortured yet delicate, with the occasional growl included for emphasis. "Abu Ghraib" rips open the disc with straight stoner rock. Doom/stone rockers will love "Iron Horse," as the guitar work is stellar. "Feed the Flames" is a standout with lines such as "I found serenity in madness, found my peace of mind," and then it takes off with Meador's soulful, rousing call to "burn it all." "El Brujo" closes out the CD with insane guitar riffs and tighter-than-tight drumming. Too many times, you hear a band's influences and not the band itself. This is simply not the case with these guys as VJ manages to have its own vibe while delivering a cool vintage Black Sabbath/Skynyrd sound. Also, while Meador's army experience certainly accounts for his lyrics, it's the band as a whole that works together so well on its debut CD. (Jara Anton, Cleveland Free Times January 2-8, 2008 edition)


It's a sad truth that it was only a matter of time until the Iraq war/quagmire started directly influencing music. There have been a number of protest songs from Important Artists With Important Things to Say, but by my count, not many that were the result of personal involvement.

Venomin James' vocalist Jim Meador is among that unfortunate new niche – a good amount of the Cleveland-based group's Left Hand Man is lyrically inspired by his tour of duty. Good thing the music backs up the dour themes. Much like fellow Ohioans Fuzztub, Venomin James plays a strain of muscular riff rock that touches upon the traditional doom. The band (Meador, guitarists Tomasz Scull and Joe Fortunato, bassist Erin Cocoran, and drummer Jared Koston) doesn't really stretch out too much – simple and direct is their MO, but that serves songs like “Feed the Flames,” “Downer,” or “El Brujo” well. Same goes for the production, although that could've benefited from a little more oomph. It's one of those albums that hints at what the band sounds like live but doesn't necessarily deliver at the same level.

All in all, Left Hand Man is a weighty slab of riff-doom-rock. Fans of Down, Solace, and Sixty Watt Shaman ought to give this a shot. (John Pegoraro, StonerRock.com)

Track Listing:

01. Abu Ghraib
02. Bullet Juice
03. Tears of the Scorpion
04. Feed the Flames
05. Downer
06. Iron Horse
07. Undertow
08. El Brujo

Check Out A Few Live Performances From Venomin James


Venomin James

Official Website

Buy CD at CDBaby

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