Minos is the latest offering from Melbourne four-piece alternative metal outfit Verona Lights.
This is an album that’s been a long time in the making. The band began the process way back in the times of B.C – “Before Covid”. The tumultuous grounds of being a band during a pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, as well as normal life stuff were contributing factors in the delay in recording and release, but this is a band that is dedicated, persistent and passionate, and Minos is well worth the wait.
The opening track, The Watcher, was initially released as a single in October 2021, so if you’re familiar with Verona Lights then there’s a good chance you’re already acquainted with this song. It’s a perfect opener; Punchy right from the get-go, with chuggy riffs that flow into the melodic vocals of the chorus, which is catchy in that way where you find yourself singing along on the first listen. To me, this is always a good sign of a well written song.
Following on, second track Phobia maintains the heaviness and tempo of The Watcher, with just a little more of an aggressive edge to it. The song is driven by a dynamic guitar tone, beginning with more sharp, attention-demanding riffs, and then melding into a ferocity with almost slightly anguished qualities during the verses. Vocalist Brendan Davine manages to convey both aggression and desperation in the way he administers the lyrics; There’s a real sincerity to the delivery of the vocals on this song, and it’s one of my favourites on the album.
The third track is Labyrinth Of Gold. This is another song that Verona Lights have previously released as a single, way back in 2020. It’s a slower number, and if I had to compare it to anything, I would say it gives me Freak Show era Silverchair vibes, at least musically. Vocally, I really have a hard time comparing Davine to anyone else, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I were told he’s influenced by Page Hamilton, Scott Weiland and Layne Staley, especially listening to Labyrinth Of Gold. There’s a haunting tone to this track, and it’s a perfect transition from the vigour of the first two songs.
Hollow picks the pace back up, with another catchy chorus that invites you to sing along, and I don’t imagine anyone could stand still if hearing this song played live. That chorus is everything that will make you want to jump up and down on the spot, and as if that wasn’t enough, Hollow then serves up a furious bridge that has ‘circle pit’ written all over it!
The album’s titular track, Minos, comes next. The most notable aspect of this song is the inclusion of guest vocals from (Hed) P.E’s Jared Gomes. The song has a frantic and chaotic feel to it, embellished by Gomes’ commanding signature gravelly yell. The way Verona Lights have included Gomes is very well executed. I personally think that when bands feature a guest vocalist there’s a propensity to delegate the guest one verse to do their thing, and this can be contrasting (of course, that’s not always a bad thing), or they are responsible for a chorus, but I think with the rise of guests featuring on tracks, it can often come across as bands sticking someone on a track purely for the clout. The way Gomes and Davine’s voices blend throughout Minos sounds incredibly natural and as if they had shared vocals on tracks a million times.
Following on from Minos is Comfort, the latest single released by the band in June of this year. This song is a slower number and begins with ominous sounding guitars and rumbling drums, before Davine’s melodic and atmospheric vocals come in. I guess Comfort could be considered more of a progressive number, with a beautifully executed, gradual build-up across the five-minute duration of the song. When the heaviness kicks in, it’s delightfully doomy. Comfort is what you get if you cross-pollinate 90’s grunge with the more modern polished prog sounds of Karnivool.
Anchors is a song with beautiful contrast, kicking off with punchy riffs and thundering drums, then simmering down into soft lilting verses before launching back into an aggressively riffy sounding chorus. The emotion of the melodies of the guitars as Davine sings “stay a moment longer” is incredibly impactful, and the closing riffs are just straight up tasty.
Kintsugi is the title of the preceding track, and I had to turn to Google to find out what that word means. According to the all-knowing search engine, Kintsugi is the “process of repairing ceramics traditionally with lacquer and gold, leaving a gold seam where the cracks were.” The title suggests that something broken can be rebuilt into something exquisite. Kintsugi is yet another song where Verona Lights have beautifully used light and shade to create a dynamic piece of music. The way it dips into soft, tension building tones, before exploding back into an onslaught of heaviness is perfection.
The album’s second-last song is The Sleep. This song really struck a chord with me on the first listen. It’s a ballad-y sounding piece, just over three minutes in length with a spectacular guitar solo that emerges around the two-minute mark. There is just a ton of emotion piled into this song, and it’s another favourite for me.
Minos’ closing track is titled Samsara. There’s a sense of urgency in the intro riffs, with Davine’s clean vocals luring the listener into the song toward the vicious screams of the pre-chorus, followed by a huge, melodic chorus. This band really knows how to create balance and malleability in their songs. There is just the right amount of ferocity and gentleness, dark and light, both in the music and the vocals.
The order of the tracks on Minos has been extremely well thought out and selected perfectly. Each song flows one into the other nicely and creates the right amount of dynamics to keep the listener engaged, giving breathing room exactly where it’s required.
Minos is a solid album from start to finish and Verona Lights are a band to watch. I feel proud that music like this is being produced right in our back yards. My only hope is that we don’t need to wait three years for the next album!
Minos is available now across all music streaming platforms.