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Venom - Metal Black (CD)

Metal Black
by Grigoris Chronis at 11 May 2006, 2:33 AM

Venom is a very special case in the entire Heavy Metal history. Maybe the first love-'em-or-hate-'em band to emerge in the early 80's from the U.K. (leave Motorhead alone, everyone likes a song or two at least), the diabolic trio (the original trio, to be precise) succeeded in the same anthemic result as e.g. Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper or Death did. And this was bound to create a whole new genre called Black Metal.
Black Metal - not in the sense the vast majority of fans think of nowadays - surely shares more than one godfathers. Still, Venom's filthy yet in-your-face music, blaspheme yet solemn lyrical approach, chaotic yet conscious appearance set the initial standards of the genre destined to become a solid 'part' of the whole Metal 'body' in the years to come. I can easily recall the Venom/Bathory (R.I.P.) dispute the last 10-15 years, while there's a certain murmur goin' on 'bout how 'black' Venom's Metal was in their - mainly - earlier albums. The answer is simple: check the influence of these Newcastle scum dogs' music in nearly all the - later - Black Metal bands and make a list of the cover songs/albums released as a minimum of homage the last fifteen years.
In the hearing of the band's brand new album, I could not protect myself from 'smiling'. Naive or not, I wouldn't want to see any Puppets Of Master, Into Ride Glory, Spades Of Ace, Madman Of A Diary or Blood In Reign album title issued since: i) our days are full of suspicion 'bout an 'old' band's motives when releasing albums (the list of 'shitty' reunion releases etc has become too long by now), ii) Cronos may be an ultra grimy figure in the circus of Heavy Metal, still the unique shapes of both unholy axeman Mantas and disastrous skinsman Abbadon are not the kinda men you can live without in such a legendary 'united' band. Of course, stories 'bout all of them fighting each other till death come and go but who fuckin' cared back then? iii) both 1997's Cast In Stone (SPV) and 2001's Ressurection studio efforts would not be the albums destined to be eternally played by the fans' stereos. Of course, who would predict a new Welcome To Hell (1981, Neat) or Black Metal (1982, Neat) album to savage our souls in the year 2006, is the other side of the coin…
Antechrist and Burn In Hell - truly - made my heart shiver with anxiety, since the're fuckin' blasphemic pieces of Venom art! Double-bass drumming in the 'typical' production, disorder in guitar work and the furious vocals by Cronos unleash pure Venom intensity. Yet, House Of Pain marked the beginning of a rather average (sic) remaining album. A tune more applicable for a Pantera cover version, this is not a typical Venom song (distorted vocals etc are in this one).
Death & Dying strikes fast and hard, a more interesting tune but rather a little bit 'overloaded' for the standards of this band. The chorus lines are more in the previous song's 'vein' but - overall - demonstrates a better level. Rege Satanas (at last, a Satanas in this album!) features a Zakk Wylde guitar technique by guitarist Mykus; a mid tempo tune that could easily fit into a Black Label Society album, omitting Cronos' vocals. (note: a good ol' chorus is in this one). Darkest Realm's only 'pro' - on the other hand - is the production and the guitar solo (not the familiar Venom style, however)…
A Good Day To Die: naive lyrics in notable music, that's all I can say. They should put this track as #O3 in the running order. The most NWOBHM tune. On to Assassin; I think this is a mixed song. Maniac double-bass reverse mid-tempo drums, supporting a true metallic riff, Cronos yells Assassin and convinces you in a way. This would also happen with Lucifer Rising, I must say, as the distorted bass takes command and the whole track shows why Slayer's paranoia lies - on a 'good' level - on Venom's psychosis. The twin leads in the middle offer an interesting harmony for the typical standards.
Blessed Dead features a speed pace, while the Pantera/BLS guitar style is not that suitable. Raw lyrics by Cronos present a tune acting more as a filler. Hours Of Darkness starts off in a different sound but does not turn to be something notable, even if the guitar work is - again - remarkable; leave alone the fact that the tempo itself is rather boring. Sleep When I'm Dead also reflects the previous diagnosis…
Maleficarum, on the other hand, is an interesting case. This was the initial title for the album (I wish they'd use it) and the 6:04 track contains the obsession of Venom's legacy 100%. In terms of music, it should not be considered as something unique but the performance of Cronos in this one is more persuasive. Tormented - demented - Relentless - satanica…
Last but not least, the title track of the album wraps it up: Metal Black is a weird song. I'd call this a piece of semi-shit, since it comes up out of the blue with a childish ultra fast tempo and simply 'angry' vocals ready to conquer the mind of a thirteen year old fan. This is due to the resemblance of the title to the 1982 anthem. Sorry, not my fault… This is objective, however. In the ears of more up-to-date fans, it seems the title (and its legacy) of this tune gives the song a 'bonus' image turning it into a headbanging 'wargasm'. Opinions…
Imagine Metal Black as the famous 'glass of water' test. Some will see it as half-(Venom)full and some as half-(Venom)empty. The good news is that there's no sense in seeing it as empty. The bad news is that you can in no way see it as full. The one point bonus is for the logo and the cover artwork of the (Venom) glass…

3 Star Rating

Burn In Hell
House Of Pain
Death & Dying
Rege Satanas
Darkest Realm
A Good Day To Die
Lucifer Rising
Blessed Dead
Hours Of Darkness
Sleep When I'm Dead
Metal Black
Cronos - Vocals & Bass
Mykvs - Guitars & Backing Vocals
Antton - Drums & Backing Vocals
Record Label: Castle Music / Sanctuary Records


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