Venom
Metal Black

I can’t be the only one that thought these guys broke up years ago, can I? Understandably I was rather shocked to receive in the mail Metal Black, the latest album from metal’s original satanists Venom. I was even more shocked to find that it didn’t completely suck.This year commemorates the 25 th anniversary of the release of 1981’s Welcome to Hell , the debut album from these metal legends. After 2000’s disappointing Ressurection I figured the band had called it quits. As soon as I found out that they hadn’t, I figured Metal Black could only be one thing “the infamous return to roots” album that is almost never pulled off with any degree of success.

My worst fears were confirmed after a quick glance at Venom’s website. Just like decade-mates Metallica (and as the album title would suggest), Venom decided to “return to their roots” with Metal Black, which equates to an incredibly raw production (although the snare doesn’t sound like a trash can being shot with a B.B. gun in a garage full of tin foil). Unlike Metallica, Venom haven’t become a bunch of money obsessed, egotistical pansies that wouldn’t know metal if it was sweatily slapping against their chin in a tour bus bathroom, that is unless of course their therapist – sorry, “band coordinator” helped them through the whole experience (remember kids, rehab is for quitters). In other words, Metal Black succeeds at recreating the hellish thrash glory of Black Metal, quite a feat considering Cronos and crew have been at it for more than 25 years.

The trademark 80’s Satanism is still present in its full glory with song titles such as “Antichrist”, “Burn in Hell”, “Rege Satanas” and “Lucifer Rising”. Having given a name to the anti-religious aural activities of a select few Scandinavian youths with their legendary album Black Metal, Venom have quite a bit to live up to. Metal Black is trademark Venom throughout, featuring 14 traditional death-thrash anthems to Satan that sound straight from the 80s. Standout track “Burn in Hell” features Cronos & Co. at their best; borderline cheese lyrics are venomously belted out over deviously catchy yet simplistic leads, all of it framed by a suitably dirty production.

With Metal Black, Venom have undoubtedly returned to their roots. For someone that figured this legendary act was long dead, this album is a welcome surprise among the more modern and progressive offerings of this year. Sometimes you just need a little balls to the walls 80s satanic thrash, and Metal Black delivers just that.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Brent Mittelstadt
May 9th, 2006

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