Venus Fly Trap (VFT) - "Zenith" Reviews
Zenith Reviews

Zenith

Alex Novak (vocals)
Andrew Denton (guitar, keyboards, vocals & programing)

Additional Players
Paul Cox (backing vocals & assistant vocal engineer)
Nathan Bundy (keyboard solos - Sabotage/Neg X)
Sylvie Denton (french narration - Neon)

Recorded at Villers Wood (UK) - 2003-2004
© Venus Fly Trap 2004
Released by Big Blue Poland

Rock Sound Magazine / UK

The best things are always found at the margins, the liminal part of existence. With the goth scene increasingly colonised by bad gothic-metal impersonators and campy vampire bands, the Venus Fly Trap, having spent the last few years making great punk-wave albums but not telling anyone about them, are a good reminder that creativity is always sustained at the edge. '
Zenith', their sixth studio album, is something of an early 80's reminiscence, its deliberately primitive electronica and minimalist underproduced guitars delivered as ever in Alex Novak's trademark sneer, more Magazine than macabre, and while it takes time to get going, the wait is worth it. 'Naked Ape' shows off the bands ability to play with fragile yet confrontation musical forms, while 'Twilight Opera' and 'Infra Red' reveal their deft hand in musical narration.

Review by: Alex Whitehead
7/10

Rock Sound July 04

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ChainDLK - Webzine

First release after 1997's album "Dark amour",
ZENITH bring back to our attention Venus Fly Trap again.
The sound has a darker aspect than the previous release and blends goth atmospheres with electronic inserts and a little bit of Joy Division/Sister Of Mercy melodies (even if some parts of "
Twilight opera" and "Naked ape", the vocal lines mainly, remember me the early Valor). Songs like "Sabotage" or "Neon" haven't got driving rhythms but the atmosphere is catchy and crawly at the same time. I must admit that even if I liked the tracks at a first listen, it took a couple of times to become completely trapped. It is difficult to find a electro/dark/rock band with a personal sound but Venus Fly Trap are a reality for all the lovers of the genre!

4 out of 5

*****
Review by: Maurizio Pustianaz

www.chaindlk.com

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Starvox - Webzine / Mick Mercer / UK

Those of you who have ever listened to earlier diseased flowery albums and wanted to see a move away from inverted psychedelic tendencies and the playful rasping, towards a sleeker, more enhanced static sound will be pleased with this.

Masters of aromatic darkness, with a tendency to use lyrics that hover enigmatically in pretty surroundings, this album hones both music and words into a dual-carriageway of murk, living up to the cinematic claims of its press release and bringing you emotive snapshots set in foundations of guile and bluster.

Axis’ is a sweet entrée, the sort of instrumental which means little, then ‘Metropolis’ suggests it’ll be a steady keyboard haze, only for a stark riff and glowering vocals to tower above, as the guitar creates a stiff-backed rhythm, with great effect. ‘Zen’ may well be Asia-by-Numbers but it’s tough, as it moves into swirly romanticism and ‘Sabotage’, which seems old, is chunky with cute effects and roves around with mean purpose. ‘Neon’ starts like a grumpy Human League (‘Being Boiled’ era) then goes all phlegmatic on us, and ‘Twilight Opera’ uses curvy, insidious provocation, sweeping low and luscious, as sly vocals and deceitful guitar mistreat us. A great rtrack.

Mercury’ is vigorous, with pop perks, ‘Naked Ape’ does sound fairly preposterous vocally, reminding me of ‘TVOD’, but with mad twirls, ‘Infra Red’ is curiously moving with disturbing imagery set inside such a light and easy going Indie tune, and then they finish with another two wonderful songs. ‘DNA’ has a spacier feel, with pinprick guitar and strange vocals, creaking and scuttling in some robot scorpion disguise. ‘Neg X’ is mysteriously frowning at its Goth guitar, while first a wonderful sense of dread builds, then ends hopefully after a gorgeous eruption of style.

As a duo they have the ability to become ever sharper, and I wonder if this marks a definite change of direction? Fans of earlier works won’t notice that great a change and the quality hasn’t dimmed at all, but I can see this interesting people who haven’t gone for the more intricate albums.

Review by: Mick Mercer - November 04

www.starvox.net/

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Zillo Magazine / Germany

English
Although the English band the Venus Fly Trap has been in existence for more than 10 years, they never became as big as they rightly should have. Their quite individual version of "Gothic Rock" veered more towards alternative/indie. Slimmed down to a duo on the new album '
Zenith' they present themselves as an electronic band. Unusual sounds for VFT that are strangely reminiscent of John Foxx, as found in the dark melancholia of 'Neon' or the song 'DNA'. Meditative sounds are also found on this album, and they too definitely have their attractions. I find VFT at their best, when they utilize their mix of danceability and individuality in songs like 'Twilight Opera' and the rocking 'Infra Red' which are immediately recognizable as Venus Fly Trap. Also with the slow builder 'Neg X' leaves you in no doubt who is at work here, exploring moodscapes that put me in mind of "Roxy Music's - In every dream home a heartache". In conclusion my personal favorites are the more 'rock' orientated songs in preference to the sci-fi electro numbers.

Review by: KaHo - June 04

German
Obwohl die englische Band Venus Fly Trap bereits seit mehr als zehn Jahren existiert, ist sie niemals richtig gro? geworden. Ihre - durchaus eigenständige – Version des Gothic Rock war stets zu rockig, zu weit weg vom Mainstream, zu sehr in Richtung Alternative Rock / Indie tendierend. Zum Duo geschrumpft präsentiert sich die Band aus Northampton auf ihrem neuen Album "Zenith“ jetzt elektronischer als gewohnt. Mitunter ergibt sich so ein für VFT recht ungewöhnlicher Sound, der an John Foxx erinnert, wie etwa bei dem düster-melancholischen "Neon“ oder bei dem Song "DNA“. Auch meditative Klänge sind auf dem Album zu finden, und auch sie haben durchaus ihren Reiz. Am besten sind Venus Fly Trap allerdings, wenn sie ihren „typischen“ Sound pflegen. Eingängige, tanzbare Songs wie 'Twilight Opera“ und das rockige "Infra Red“ sind sofort als Venus Fly Trap erkennbar. Und auch bei dem langsamen "Neg X“ besteht keinerlei Zweifel, wer da am Werk ist – VFT verbeugen sich hier vor "In Every Dream Home A Heartache“ von Roxy Music. Insgesamt gesehen sind die rockigeren Songs, die Songs, die den gewissen VFT-Touch haben, besser gelungen als die Scie-Fi-Electro-Rock-Songs.

Review by: KaHo - June 04

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Kaleidoscope Magazine / UK

The Venus Fly Trap’s sixth album sees the band mixing in a more tribal feel and percussion to their progressive goth flavours, and experimenting with drone sounds. This takes a bit of getting used to, as it doesn’t really sound like anything else around at the moment, and the traditional verse-chorus-verse structure isn’t particularly obvious.
There are certain Joy Division elements within both the music and the vocals, and there is a general recognition of the diversity and experimentalism of early goth that is present in all VFT albums. Standout tracks would include “
Zen” with its exotic sounds, and “Naked Ape” which is rich with Alex Novak’s pointed thoughts about society and mundanity! “Zenith” is an album that takes time to appreciate, but once you get into it, is increasingly rewarding. Intense with restrained expression !

Review by: Jade

Kaleidoscope 17 2004

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Magic Box - Webzine / France

English
Northampton is not renowned for being a nurturing ground for musical talent. At the end of the 70s, a certain Pete Murphy and his band Bauhaus emerged from the foggy Midlands city and left a indelible mark in the history of the British music scene. Since then…
Singer
Alex Novak is an intriguing and physically impressive character; his roots are in punk music (something in the way he uses his voice tells us that), but he’s managed to evolve and moved on to another level, as the member of various bands, building up on the way some european contacts (VFT were signed to the French label Danceteria). Now, Novak seems to have found a liking for Poland, the eastern european country’s mysterious appeal cropping up here and there on the CD.

Andrew Denton’s music gives substance to Novak’s poetic and misanthropic lyrics. With one foot in the 80s - the Golden Age of electro - and the other firmly in the present, VFT can be catchy, poppy even, incredibly accessible; they can also get into a dark, threatening or even minimalist mood. Neon and Mercury are synth-led tracks, whereas Zen sounds like a venomous oriental snake. Naked Ape, with a perverted nursery rhythm interlude, is snappy, threatening. DNA has a sticky, unhealthy sound that could remind us of Nick Cave after having discovered how to use a machine. My favourite one remains Sabotage, but as to say why…

Review by: Adreena

French
Northampton n’est pas connue pour être un nid de talent musical. Des brumes grisâtres de la métropole des Midlands avaient émergé, à la fin des années 70, un certain Peter Murphy et son groupe Bauhaus, qui allait laisser une trace indélébile dans l’histoire musicale anglaise. Depuis…
Le chanteur Alex Novak, personnage intriguant à l’allure carrée, est enraciné dans le mouvement punk, et cela se retrouve dans sa voix rauque à la diction hachée. Après avoir fait partie de multiples groupes au fil des années, il a maintenant décidé de mettre toute son énergie dans Venus Fly Trap, groupe entretenant de solides liens européens: après avoir fait partie du label français Danceteria, VFT semble avoir une grosse faiblesse pour la Pologne. Autour des paroles aux envolées lyriques et misanthropiques de Novak, son comparse Andrew Denton tisse une toile sonore variée, au parfum électro des années 80 teinté de guitares, qui peut tour à tour être entraînant, à la limite de la pop, sombre et menaçant ou embrumé et minimaliste. Neon et Mercury laissent la part belle aux synthés et aux sonorités plus légères, et Zen prend des allures de serpent oriental venimeux. Naked Ape, avec son interlude résonant comme une berceuse un peu perverse, est plus coupante, menaçante. Tout comme le gluant DNA, qui sonne comme du Nick Cave avec des machines. Ma préférée reste Sabotage, simple mais efficace, qui va droit au but.

Review by: Adreena

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Offculture Webzine / Poland

The new album Zenith from veterans of the goth electo scene, as vocalist Alex Novak says, is maybe the best in their career up to today. After hearing the album it is hard to disagree with him. First of all, it is an album which is uncommonly wide ranging. Consisting of sharp electro next to ambient passages, light dappled synth pop close to the style of Depeche Mode, and carefully crafted songs on the limits of pop .... which brings to mind several Alan Parsons Project works. The album is filled with interesting oriental motifs, secretive instrumental passages and excellent electric guitar breaks. The music is held in the good old school climate of the 80's but in a modern, crystal clear production.

Recommended

www.offculture.pl

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Outsight Communications / Internet Radio / USA

Using sparse but potent beats, Venus Fly Trap creates a dramatic, cinematic sweep of post-industrial goth-glam that recalls Bowie and Bauhaus, Joy Division and Kraftwerk. The classic science fiction themes "
Metropolis", "Naked Ape" would make Philip K. Dick proud.

3.5 out of 5

Outsight Communications

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GIAG Webzine / Latvia

There is plenty of electro crossover that is both utterly derivative and utterly fantastic-evil-eye-crud that when you listen to it, conjures up images of the band playing for no one, but themselves, lost in the preposterous belief that they are creating Great Art. You mustn't EVER sound calculating, and that's VFT's biggest flaw. But they groove easily and always with an amazingly authentic sound. Sometimes you can appreciate something and draw influence from it without having to remain faithful to it. This does both, and that's a pretty impressive fact.

Review by: Merje Lõhmus (a.k.a. Mad Sister)

www.giag.lv

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Obliveon Webzine / Germany

English
Venus Fly Trap sound as British as hardly another band of the black spectrum. Darkly, gothical, electronically... and again and again break the postpunk roots of the British scene by way of their own sound. Venus Fly Trap are active since the end of the eighties, but the earned acknowledgment was so far unfortunately missing.

"Zenith" actually marks the creative high point of the work of Alex Novak and Andy Denton to date, their self-willed and nevertheless unmistakable style with psychedelic enriched items, before everything in the view to spherical sound fragments, the keyboards and a certain hypnotic character, concerning the monotonous rhythm work.
In such a way "
Neon" and "Neg X" leave memories of the late phase of Joy division or the early days of New Order's awakening, "DNA" has the feel of the Chameleons and at times electronic elements of older Attrition songs seem to be the influence. "Zenith" one must discover song by song for itself, because its attraction unfolds after hearing various passages.

Review by: MK
8/10

German
Venus Fly Trap klingen so britisch wie kaum eine andere Band des schwarzen Spektrums. Düster, gotisch, elektronisch … und immer wieder brechen sich die Postpunk-Wurzeln des britischen Szeneurgesteins ihren Weg durchs Soundgemäuer. Venus Fly Trap sind seit Ende der achtziger Jahre aktiv, doch die verdiente Anerkennung blieb bislang leider aus.

Dabei markiert "Zenith“ tatsächlich den kreativen Höhepunkt des Schaffens von Alex Novak und Andy Denton, die ihren eigenwilligen und dennoch unverwechselbaren Stil mit psychedelischen Elementen angereichert, vor allem im Hinblick auf sphärische Soundfragmente, die Keyboards und einen gewissen hypnotischen Charakter, die monoton wirkende Rhythmusarbeit betreffend. So lassen „"Neon“ und "Neg X“ zudem Erinnerungen an die Spätphase Joy Divisions oder die frühen Tage New Orders wach werden, während "DNA“ den Chameleons seine Ehrerbietung entgegenbringt und sich in den elektronischen Elementen auch mal ältere Attrition als Einfluss bemerkbar. "Zenith“ muss man Stück für Stück für sich entdecken, denn was sich zuweilen als etwas sperrig erweist, entfaltet seinen Reiz erst nach diversen Hördurchgängen.

Review by: MK
8/10

www.obliveon.de/

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D-Side Magazine / France

English
Mr Novak and Denton are still finding loads to harvest from the fields between goth-rock, electro and industrial. Zenith, recorded between 2003 and 2004, has managed to be at the same time unusual and accessible. Somewhere between Joy Division and Ikon, the disenchanted voices of Novak brings depth to a mechanical and minimal ensemble. That is maybe why some people call it “the new wave of dark wave”. Denton’s guitars never overpower the music, but mainly accentuate the electronic sound between cold wave and industrial. The guitars are nevertheless far from soft, but bring up to date the goth heritage of the 80s : minimal and sharp tones give an organic vibration to a cold and synthetic rock (“Metropolis”, “Naked Ape”), or more pernicious atmospheres (“Neon”). It is in this crossover that Venus Fly Trap have delivered one of the most accomplished albums of their career : a synth pop with a punch worthy of the March Violets (“Twilight Opera”) or pop formats (the very beautiful “Infra Red”), but the music never leaves the dark world.
Venus Fly Trap, more creative than ever, have maybe reached their Zenith.

Emmanuel Hennequin, from D-Side magazine No. 24, September-October 2004.

French
Messieurs Novak et Denton n’ont pas fini de défricher les terrains compris entre le gothic-rock, l’électro et l’industriel. Zenith, enregistré par les Anglais à cheval sur 2003 et 2004, se fait un devoir double : il vise l’inclassable, mais aussi l’accessibilité. Quelque part entre Joy Division et Ikon et une nouvelle fois à l’honneur, les voix désenchantées de Novak accroissent la gravité d’un ensemble minimal et mécanique. Ce n’est pas pour rien si certains nomment cela “new wave of dark wave”. Les guitares de Denton ne monopolisent jamais la parole, plutôt axée sur la mise en valeur d’une électronique entre cold wave et textures industrielles. Les guitares ne font pas pour autant dans la dentelle, reprenant à leur compte l’héritage gothique des années 80 : ciselages minimaux et aigus complètent d’une vibration organique un rock synthétique et froid (“Metropolis”, “Naked Ape”), ou des ambiances plus pernicieuses (“Neon”). C’est dans ce crossover que Venus Fly Trap parvient à délivrer un des albums les plus aboutis de sa carrière : la synth-pop y croise une frappe digne des March Violets (“Twilight Opera”) ou des formats pop (le très beau “Infra Red”), mais la musique ne quitte jamais totalement le terrain des ténèbres. Venus Fly Trap, plus créatif que jamais, a peut-être bien atteint son Zenith,

Emmanuel Hennequin, from D-Side magazine No. 24, September-October 2004.

www.d-side.org/

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Subsiren Fanzine / UK

Five albums and a greatest hits is usually a sign from God (yes-that big cloud of gas in the sky that gullible people worship) that it’s time to call it a day or just tour once a year at Christmas and never release any new original material again – ever! Thankfully this Status Quo philosophy does not apply to Venus Fly Trap who appear relevant enough in their own right to carry on until the predicted electro-goth revival that I expect will come about in roughly 2011! By then they will be big enough to play arenas and so can retire as rich men! ‘Zenith’ is a very dark claustrophobic record that is cleverly produced and enhanced by the electronics courtesy of instrument all-rounder Andy Denton (guitar/keyboard/programming). Vocalist Alex Novak is low toned and reminiscent of say Nick Cave or Ian Curtis and snarls his way through the tracks, ranting as if frustrated by what appears to be aspects of the modern world. After the synthesized crowded car horn opening of ‘Axis’, ‘Metropolis’ follows and is held together by an almost drum and bass type beat. I must admit that the variety offered on this record is surprising considering that is still manages to flow regardless. From the death march beat of ‘Zen’ to the more synth-pop feel of ‘Mercury’ or the New Order styled ‘Infa Red’, the band have their own unique sound that can seamlessly be molded to all the genres floating in their static space.
Well-done boys.

Review by: Steven Belfrage (January 05)

www.subsiren.com/

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Dance of the Damned Fanzine / UK

Excellent album from one of the veteran bands of the gothic/electro genre, Venus Fly Trap are, Alex Novak (vocals) and Andrew Denton (guitar, keyboards, vocals and programming). Additional work on the album was done by Paul Cox (backing vocals and assistant vocal engineer), Nathan Bundy (keyboard solos – Sabotage/Neg X) and Sylvie Denton (French narration – Neon). The album itself covers a really diverse range of sounds, ranging from truly haunting gothic music to real kick-ass all out sharp electro (and everything in between). Very reminiscent of eighties sounding bands, somewhere inbetween The Sisters Of Mercy and Bauhaus with a new millennium twist. Stand out tracks include, Metropolis, Sabotage, and Neon.

Reviewed - January 05

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Godsend Online / USA

UK-based electro act VFT have been around for a long time, but this 6th LP is the first I have heard, oddly. This new work is accessable and not a little retro, reminding me much of Rodney Orpheus' CASSANDRA COMPLEX work of the 90s, with cynical vocal attitude, guitar/sequenced sound backdrop, and post-industrial sci-fi philosophy. There's some strong songwriting, as on the pop-oriented 'Twilight Opera' or the catchy 'Infra Red', and some more atmospheric moments, like the lightly stellar synthpop of 'DNA'. The closing track, a liberal reworking of ROXY MUSIC's superb 'In Every Dream Home A Hearache' (here mysteriously titled 'Neg X') ends it all on a fine note. A solid release that has found itself on my CD deck more than a few times already.

Review by: Todd Zachritz September 05

Godsend

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Gothicrevue / USA

See, this guy named Alex Novak worked with Martin (from Attrition) many years ago, now (all of a sudden) I find out that he has been doing a band called Venus Fly Trap and boy is it good.  Neon and Zen seem like they would be the break-out hits of this bunch but I fear(much like Attrition and In The Nursery) that not many people had ever heard of them.  Go out and find the ir music if you like odd electronic noodlings or later Bauhaus or seventies berlin-era Bowie. Many more of their releases will be reviewed in the upcoming issues of Gothicrevue.com, for they are a seminal act (without people even realising it) on par with Klaus Nomi or Diamanda Galas. 

Review by: Azrael Racek September 05

www.gothicrevue.com

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Grave Concerns E-Zine / USA

The latest album from Northampton’s Venus Fly Trap continues the duo’s post-punk electronic explorations, with lead singer Alex Novak’s charming and singularly British baritone – he sounds like Alan Rickman by way of Ian Curtis – delivered over a mix of screeching guitars and throbbing analog synthesizers. “Metropolis” is nicely bleak, and “Naked Ape” throbs with a teasingly slow punk rhythm, but it’s the unexpected pop moments that make this CD such a treasure. “Infra Red” is straight up perky, with laid back guitars, electric pianos and some harmonic vocal work that’s more Beatles than Sisters of Mercy, and “DNA” starts off tense and minimal before floating away on a breeze of pleasantly trippy keyboard effects. “Zen” shows hints of ethnic flavor, with a tribal-inspired drum pattern and flute-like synthesizer effects punctuated by eerie a capella moments. While it’s true the Venus Fly Trap can be a bit too minimal at times, as evidenced by the somewhat dated-sounding “Sabotage,” guitarist and programmer Andrew Denton has a definite gift for arrangements. This album’s final track, “Neg X,” is no less than epic, evolving from a slow dirge to a Joy Division-inspired dance number, then to a no-nonsense rock and roll song that’s so infectious you can’t help but sing along. These guys have been around for a while, and they’re true masters of their craft. They deserve all the attention they can get, so check this one out if you’re into the old school darkwave sound. 

Review by: Matthew Johnson - December 05

Grave Concerns E-Zine - Zenith Review

www.graveconcernsezine.com - Home

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Legends Magazine Online / USA

Venus Fly Trap is reminding me of a just slightly less interesting I, Synthesist[1]. It’s good though and I’m digging it. Metropolis has a really catchy guitar rhythm swiped through it and Zen gets a bit tribal on me. Zenith, by the way, is Venus Fly Trap’s sixth album. It’s decent stuff, though if I had a choice between Avalanche and Zenith I’d have to think about it only a little before I chose the former.

Zenith runs close behind though, with modern urban technologies mixed with old tribal elements dizzied up into sci-fi genre visuals. It’s quite fine stuff and would be great as backdrop for works like Demolished Man or The Gods Themselves. A nice heady aroma and tasty flavor of future-pop and Euro-industrial. Vocals are subdued and spoken more than sung giving a storyboard feel to the work overall.

Neon has an almost subliminal melody to it with catchy tinklings and subtle synthetics. Twilight Opera reminds me heavily of Kraftwerk era industrial with a bit of added squeaky guitar. There’s even interesting trappings of 80s video game sounds that, while I can’t define, add to the track’s charm. Naked Ape also has a catchy melody like the starting Metropolis. The slow moving breakdown is smooth and surreal with a nice slow piano section with a good choice of chords that seem to work together while still having a strange sharp sound.

DNA
becomes a chill out piece as Zenith begins to wind itself down. Bubbly synthetics and synth laced backwashes provide a nice background to the low bass monotone vocals. Neg X pops it up a bit to more mainstream friendly sounds with an almost disco and catchy flavor. It grows on you.

Venus Fly Trap is rather good. With each listen I am considering changing my behind-Avalanche position on their Zenith release. It’s really not as far behind as first impression, and I remember I, Synthesist needing to grow on me a bit also so I shouldn’t be all that surprised. A nice concoction here, pick up some future-pop fun today

Review by: Marcus Pan - December 05

www.legendsmagazine.com

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