When I originally spoke with Mike Spreitzer, it was about the DevilDriver release of Dealing with Demons II. We had discussed his love for industrial music and I had asked him if he had any plans of releasing his own music with that influence. Little did I know, he already had made it, he just had not announced it yet. Spreitzer went about it creatively with a day-by-day countdown without explaining what the countdown was for. I had remained hopeful for a solo release, so was beyond pleased when the day had finally arrived for him to say what he had been up to. At this time, the teasers began for Verona on Venus, and damn if that didn’t lead to more excitement and questions.

Verona on Venus debut album, Popular Delusions,  is a warm hug from the 90’s, and true to the 90’s, it is full of sorrow, heart, and beauty. It is amazing how it carries a certain familiarity, yet is entirely its’ own thing. While I far from personally know Spreitzer, I feel he bares his soul so beautifully, that you almost feel as if you have peeked into his consciousness with each lyric, each vocal style, and each melody. His uniqueness creates a landscape of a dark and distant land you ironically want to keep adventuring to. Between the vocal ranges, musical shifts, and incredible art both visually and audibly, it draws you in and you are left wanting more.

“Rodent” was the first single released. It has a haunting feeling built within, and the video is one of the most curious and fantastic music videos I have seen. The torture you see matches the rawness of the vocal style and the lyrical approach. The melodies lead the song and guide you throughout with almost a form of comfort, which seems counterintuitive, but I think that is one of the most alluring parts about this one.

The next track is titled, “Dead Heroes Hang”. This one slows down just a bit and breathes before it hits the heavier chorus. The vocals are similar to “Rodent”, but have maybe a bit more urgency at times. They demand your attention. The guitar work takes a turn about three and a half minutes in with a refrain shift until it breaks into a solo piece, then returns to the original riff, just to mix it up again around the five-minute mark. It all flows flawlessly.

Song three, “Floods of Burden”, takes a more dramatic start before jumping into the main meat of the song. I love this one. It swells my heart and pulls on the strings, almost like a puppet in the composition. There are some deeper vocal ranges about three and a half minutes in. When he sings, “Here is where it began”, the second time he says it, he shifts the melody down and it almost makes you dip your chin down with it. You get another little Spreitzer solo built into this one as well. His yell toward the end reminds me of Maynard James Keenan, not entirely sure why. Let me know if you hear it when you listen!

Four! “The Hate Ballet”, oh be still my beating heart. This song is so sad, but so memorable. It draws you into the world he has developed. I almost felt like I was sitting in an empty room on the floor, absorbed in deep thoughts and feeling all the feelings at once. It is a really powerful song and his vocals about break your heart. The composition itself is weirdly second to the experience, which tells me how special of a song it is. I get lost in this one every damn time I hear it, and it is difficult to put into words how.

Track five, “Dirty Cigarettes”, was my favorite the first few times I listened to the album. It is slow throughout and enticing. Spreitzer has more of a lower-scale vocal style with some higher background vocals. I think the lyrical components really drew me in and just wouldn’t let go. It is a magical song that takes you soaring through dark stormy clouds, yet you are not afraid because he has a healing way of delivering his message. Despite how sad it seems.

“Red Dead Rose” is number six and it has a bit of industrial elements to it. Spreitzer has a throaty vocal style and the arrangement guides you through the depths of the haunts of his cryptic mind. I sometimes feel a hint of Marilyn Manson, but it might be simply his vocals at times because he switches them up often with this song, and it works so well. There are points where it sounds as if the song is going to end, just to click back into action. Four minutes in he does a sort of deep harsh vocal and it has a little melody shift to a heavier ending.

“Popular Delusions”, is lyric-free, strictly instrumental. There is still so much feeling in it though. There is a build-up that continues from the beginning to the end, with adding more instruments and soundscapes along the way. At some point, there is a theremin? Maybe? I think I will have to ask him about this.

The next song is, “Monarch Acid Test”, which was his second single release. This one has more industrial sounds to it all the way through. He has a much harsher vocal style, which just shows how incredible of a range he has. He seriously sounds like he has about eight people built within him with all he can accomplish vocally. I almost feel like he is taking his power back here, I may be interpreting it wrong, but that is how it makes me feel.

Verona on Venus ends the album with an Acid Bath cover, “The Bones of Baby Dolls”. To even attempt to redo an Acid Bath song is so bold, we all know how talented Dax Riggs is, but Spreitzer does it admirably by holding true to the original, yet making it a part of VoV. It is such a bewitching trip not only to the past but carefully carrying it into the future with so much respect and grace. You can tell how much consideration he took into re-creating this song, and it is a perfect ending to an extraordinary album.

Popular Delusions is tough to put into words because it is more of a feeling journey instead of a black-and-white musical excursion. You must set aside time to sit and listen, without interruptions. It is not a “background music” kind of album, and while you may try, it will demand your attention. Spreitzer has really outdone himself with this first album, and I look forward to the future of VoV. There are only 500 vinyls made at this time, and if there are any left, I encourage you to hop on it before they are all gone.


Mike SpreitzerPopular DelusionsVerona on Venus
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