As the dying embers of 2012 gave way to a new year, Parisian quartet Venera 4 began releasing a string of impressive singles which came to a mighty conclusion with the blockbusting maelstrom of 'Deaf Heartbeats' from their EP 'Deaf Hearts' last October. Aside from another EP of session tracks, it's all been quiet since then, but the beast has awoken. Lack of noticeable activity generally means one of two things: the band have given up the ghost, or they're holed up somewhere putting together new material. When you've begun reaching the heights that these guys had, the first option would be a crying shame.
It's not without a certain amount of excitement from me personally, to get news of a brand new single, 'Black Paws', and to hear that this will be included on the band's debut album, due early in 2015. Not everything Venera 4 do sounds the same, but it all fits together nicely. So while 'Black Paws' may not be the onslaught that they've delivered in the past, it's no worse off for it. Description is easy: purely and simply, this is a shoegaze track through and through. Guitars and effects pedals sound as though they've been piled onto a bonfire and torched, each letting out a screech or a groan as they burn - and it sounds fabulous. Those honeyed vocals are pushed into the middle of the mix to create the desired wall of sound effect, and the pained cries of distortion are offset with a good dollop of melody. They've all been at it lately: My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Slowdive, Medicine, and now Ride - but as the reformation train keeps rolling, don't take your eyes of what the current set of similarly-minded bands are doing, because with the likes of Venera 4 around, there's no need to resort to nostalgia.