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Venom - Metal Black

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Sunday, April 9, 2006 @ 5:08 AM


On Castle/Sanctuary

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Venerated as the pioneers of black metal, Venom returns with a 14 song disc which is easily its strongest release in years. Venom fell away from the public eye with a host of scattershot releases and reissues, becoming eclipsed by heavier, darker bands (many of whom cited Venom as an early influence); relegating the (excellent) early releases of “Black Metal” and “Welcome to Hell” to those insipid “NECESSARY EVIL METAL” lists by overly-enthusiastic Amazon posters.

Original member Cronos assembled a new line-up (Anton, drums; Mykvs, guitars) to create some “old-school” music in the vein of the aforementioned early work of the band. The result is less thrashy, more muscled and flaunts a decidedly raw production quality. Cronos clearly had a vision and an agenda with this record: even if the band was always tongue-in-cheek about its Satanic posturing, this record exonerates the band on the strength of its music.

From the ripping opener, “AnteChrist,” Cronos and his new bandmates seem well-poised to reclaim the throne which they abdicated some time ago. Fast, heavy and rough; the disc was recorded live in the studio and the sound is purposely muddled though the band is exceptionally tight. The return to an older, stripped-down sound might have produced horrible results (see “St. Anger”), but the band pulls it off beautifully. The record isn’t remarkable because it’s Venom: the record succeeds because it’s an excellent collection of punishing Sabbath sludge and frenetic punk energy.

Lyrically, the band hasn’t strayed from the usual topics: death, darkness & Satan. There are riffs for days and great bursts of instantly sing-able choruses. Among the album’s many highlights are “Burn In Hell,” “Darkest Realm,” “A Good Day to Die,” “Blessed Dead” and the manic-punky closer “Metal Black” (which appears to be the band’s new manifesto). Overall it’s a crushing slab of rock.

Venom is back. Thank God.

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