The production on this album is even better than on Incendiary: distorted, aggressive, and fucking LOUD, yet everything's just where it ought to be in the mix. In particular, the guitar sound is flawless -- the ripping rhythm guitars perfectly complement the cutting leads. The bass and drums have a driving, satisfying sound, and the vocals take center stage without drowning everything out.
With Veneration Ares Kingdom have done the impossible, or at least the very difficult: a covers album which sounds like an AK record *and* is worthy of the name. Each of the songs has been re-worked to fit the band's sound, despite the disparate influences on display here; if covering Dokken and Slaughter Lord on the same record doesn't say it all, I'm not sure what will. The band's cover of "Die By Power" has been a staple of their live show for some time, and is captured here in all its stomping glory -- likewise their version of Sacrilege's "The Captive", which takes great advantage of the original's solos & dive-bomb guitar. R.U. Dead's "When Your Heart Turns Black" is made a good deal less frantic, yet somehow more menacing, and the vocals here might be the best on the album. Mefisto's "Act Dead" simply rips, shredding all over the place until it hits the anthemic, echoing central section. Vulpecula's "Celestial" is a special treat for those who've been following Chuck Keller's career since Order From Chaos; it sounds like it could've been written for the band, which is no mean feat given how atmospheric it is. The nimble drumming on this one is a huge highlight. Alex Blume's old band Nepenthe contributes "Oblivion" -- I have to confess I haven't heard the original, but it's a great addition here, packed with swagger and stomp. "Without Warning/Tooth and Nail" wraps things up in a classic way, blasting through this classic tune at a souped-up clip. This one's guaranteed to have you snarling and pumping your fist...
It's hard to pick just a few favorites here; Veneration combines the spirit of Ares Kingdom's killer live shows with a warm homage to the bands which made it all happen, and I could listen to this one for hours. New listeners should probably start with one of their original LPs instead, but no fan of the band will be let down by this particular act of Veneration...! Highly recommended.
Standout tracks: "Die By Power", "When Your Heart Turns Black", "Celestial"