Primarily known for his work with with Oceansize and for performing live guitar duties with Biffy Clyro, Mike Vennart‘s own creative output draws from a wider and more progressive range of influences.
Whilst he may be accustomed by now to performing in front of tens of thousands, ‘To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea’ is a far more personal endeavor that isn’t afraid to forego mass appeal in order to fulfill its creator’s artistic vision.
At 54 minutes in length, a good deal longer than debut album ‘The Demon Joke’, this record takes its time to the point of occasional self-indulgence, yet still offers a deeply rewarding experience.
Opening track ‘Binary’ eases us in. As with many songs on this record, it begins with a slightly protracted but richly textured and ethereal intro, building over its six minute duration into an uplifting crescendo replete with shimmering leads and a crunching bass-driven riff.
The tracks making up the first half of the record are similar in structure, if not in sound and feel. Slow intros give way to bombastic outros, giving the album a cascading feel, which can be slightly jarring upon the first couple of listens.
The sonic depth and diversity, however, is admirable. Almost every passage has a rich tapestry of layered instrumentation that is simply too much to digest on the first couple of listens. Whilst every song has an enormous sense of scale and grandeur, thanks in no small part to the commendable production job which gives every synth, guitar, piano and who knows what else its own breathing space, every track has a very distinct mood and feel.
Mike Vennart himself is something of a vocal chameleon, effortlessly switching up his tone and utilising his impressive range to sound just as at home amongst the delicate ‘Into The Wave’ as he does in the midst of the groove-heavy riffing of ‘Spider Bones’.
The pacing of the album is somewhat puzzling, however. The mid-section rump of songs beginning with hook-laden ‘Friends Don’t Owe’ and concluding with ‘Sentientia’ are all very dynamic and immediate, foregoing the lengthy intros that crop up everywhere else. One can’t help but feel that scattering these more high-energy numbers across the track list rather than grouping them together would help to alleviate the fatigue that occurs when one lengthier song follows another.
It’s a rare and welcome surprise to hear a record that sounds genuinely unique, but Mike Vennart and co. have succeeded with ‘To Cure A Blizzard Upon A Plastic Sea’. Unapologetically vast and sprawling, Vennart‘s sophomore full-length demands an investment of time to unravel its details, but fans of proggier alternative rock will find plenty to appreciate.