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Venom: Metal Black

Venom have been referred to as being the "Fathers Of Black Metal" and this title is based on their releases such as Black Metal and At War With Satan. When the band was formed in 1982 there was not really anyone playing the kind of music much less about the kind of topics that they were bringing to the table. When you look back and listen to the early albums you will find that the original lineup of Cronos, Mantas and Abbadon (who were all named after demons) delivered a more Thrash Punk than Metal style and their lyrics while very dark could not have been meant to be taken very seriously. Cited by bands like Slayer and many others as the key influence to their own forays into Metal's Dark side the group gives us Metal Black. The Sanctuary Records release finds Venom bringing their sound into 2006 but the only original member on the release would be Cronos with his growling vocals and thundering bass. We last saw Cronos on the Dave Grohl project "Probot" and now joining him would be Mykvs (guitar) and Antton (drums) with both members helping out on backing vocals. Together the group reminds the listener once again of the goings on down below and with "Antechrist" and "Rege Satanus" prove that they will never stray far from this influence for their music. Oddly enough this release is far different from the early albums and delivers a solid dose of Heavy Metal rumbling that I think can appeal to even the non-fan. It was better than I remember them and finds a little more musicality being showcased this time around. I had a couple of tracks that I liked the most such as "Burn In Hell" and "A Good Day to Die" which were fast-paced numbers along the lines of Motorhead. There were some levels of lyrical predictability here but overall it is possibly the best work that the band has delivered in years.

If you find inspiration in the bands of yesterday then this will be worth looking into. Given the earlier disciples to their sound in the past who knows what the return of Venom in 2006 will find. Only time will tell if the next big thing listens to this and follows in their hoof prints.

Track Listing
1. Antechrist
2. Burn In Hell
3. House Of Pain
4. Death & Dying
5. Rege Satanas
6. Darkest Realm
7. A Good Day To Die
8. Assassin
9. Lucifer Rising
10. Blessed Dead
11. Hours Of Darkness
12. Sleep When I'm Dead
13. Maleficarvm
14. Metal Black

Added: April 30th 2006
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: Venom Website
Hits: 2748
Language: english

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Venom: Metal Black
Posted by Murat Batmaz, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-04-30 08:27:32
My Score:

There is no arguing that Venom is one of the most important and influential bands in the history of metal. Not everyone may think they are a good band, but I doubt in the mid-80's there were any bands that weren't influenced by their music in one way or another, especially by their Black Metal (1982) and At War with Satan (1983) albums, both of which rank very high on the most influential discs of extreme metal. Remember, Venom has never been a black metal band in the sense some people perceive them to be. Rather, they were a proto-black metal act, utilising mostly thrash and post-punk riffs and extreme lyrics in their music. So the theory that Venom has had little or no impact on black metal is false. Both death and black metal have evolved from thrash, though they are totally different genres, and Venom is certainly one of the main acts that spawned the 90's black metal movement.

Anyway, the new Venom album is a nod to their past, as the title implies. However, in other ways, it also leans towards a more melodic edge, particularly because of guitarist Mykvs's immense contribution. Myvks is no newcomer; he previously played on Venom's Calm Before the Storm (1987) and also appeared on Cronos' solo album. Metal Black is quite possibly the most melodic Venom release in their career, given some of the solos are immensely well-crafted and melody-inserted. That said, much of their songs are still Motorhead and punk-infused, such as the opening song "Antechrist", their only oldschool piece on this track, marked by chuggy guitars, fat bass, and raw drumming by Antton (who also played on the previous album Resurrection). "Burn in Hell" also continues in a similar vein, bringing out more obvious Motorhead riffage that unfortunately seems recycled though. The solo on this piece is great, however. Actually there are guitars you've never heard on previous Venom albums before. Both "House of Pain" and "A Good Day to Die" feature catchy, exotic licks by Mykvs, also utilising a slower, Sabbathy guitar aura on the former and a growling bass on the latter.

Regarding the other songs, they seem to have some really good, well-written parts. Unfortunately though, as a whole, something seems to be missing in most of them. For example, it's a shame that the band failed to develop the amazing opening main riff of "Darkest Realm", besides the clean, smooth guitar solo it contains. I feel this could make for one of the finest live songs on the album. "Assassin" is also a great piece with an infectious lead solo, but the rest of the riffs are terribly repetitive and Cronos' vocals sound very uninspired. The marching drums and militaristic riffs on "Death & Dying" are worth hearing as is the dirty rock'n'roll offered on "Rege Satanas". "Lucifer Rising" is a very bland piece overall, but the guitar playing on it is the best on the album. "Hours of Darkness" is possessed by a demonic vocal performance by Cronos and a very solid rhythmic angle. This is Venom at their best. When concentrated enough, they still know how to write dark and sinister pieces, but when they choose to return to form, opting for primal production values, and recreating the impossible magic of their 1982 album, they do and always will fail.

Compared to their previous album Resurrection, Metal Black is certainly a step up, but in terms of production it pales to its predecessor. We're no longer in the early 80's and recording techniques have improved a lot over the years. Why go back and try to sound deliberately raw and 'unprofessional'? Just cause your new album is titled Metal Black? Well, I don't see the point. This disc has some good moments and some really meandering and pointless parts. Overall, it's mediocre but still deserves a listen to see how well they've aged in the last 20+ years.

Venom: Metal Black
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-04-09 07:26:47
My Score:

Metal Black, the latest from one of the godfathers of extreme music, Venom, is a decidedly heavier platter than much of their back catalog. Often billed as the "founders of black metal", a tag that I have always found odd considering that other than the lyrical content, Venom's music traditionally was closer to thrash and punk that what ultimately would be considered black metal. But that's a discussion for another day. Metal Black sees longtime singer/bassist Cronos once again joining up with Antton and Mykvs for 14 fast and heavy songs of metal fury.

One thing that is readily noticeable if you haven't listened to Venom since the early days is that this newer line-up (who actually have been together for quite some time) are actually much better musicians than the early incarnation of the band. Songs like "Burn in Hell", "House of Pain", and "Lucifer Rising" contain plenty of crunchy, Zakk Wylde-ish guitar riffs from Mykvs, and the rhythm combo of Cronos and Antton provide plenty of beefy bottom end. In fact, the vocals of Cronos are much easier to listen to nowadays-personally, I always felt his style back in the early 80's was sort of laughable, but he's developed a nice mid-rage growl now that is not quite death metal, but a style that fits somewhere in the classic metal and thrash zone. Lyrically, it's same old Venom, with lurid song titles about Satan, death, and destruction, so no surprises there. Overall, this is a pretty good album from one of the originators of the genre, although quite honestly I'm not sure how relevant Venom will be these days with so many great bands that are around creating new and cutting edge music.

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