Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Record label: Spinefarm Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Venom are one of the most important bands in the history of heavy music. They had a hand in the creation of thrash metal, death metal and black metal (even giving the latter genre its name with their legendary sophomore album.) Without Venom, extreme metal could very well have never existed. With all of that out of the way, theyâ€™re pretty much a legacy act this point, with only 1/3 of the original group still on board.
It’s 34 years since Newcastle black metal trio Venom released their debut album, and the band – now fronted by the sole remaining founder member, Conrad ‘Cronos’ Lant – is an altogether different act from the one that was doing the devil’s work 25, 15 and even 10 years ago. It’s a familiar story these days, and while the next part of reviews such as this one is usually words to the effect of, “Sadly, their new album is terrible,” that’s far from the case with From The Very Depths, Venom’s 14th LP. The old sarcasm and spite that made the first few records such evil fun is still here – in particular on Long Haired Punks and Grinding Teeth – and while speedy thrash beats aren’t present, miserably filthy and heavy drone riffs are – a step forward in the opinion of this reviewer.
The 14th studio long-player from the black metal royals, From the Very Depths opens with the wordless, cacophonous "Eruptus," which not-so-subtly charts (sonically) the ascension of some sort of demonic entity from the bowels of the earth, eventually giving way to the explosive title cut, a four-minute blast of thrash/groove malevolence that sounds more or less like the opening salvo of any of the last seven or eight Venom offerings, right down to sole original member Cronos' welcoming the listener to some new (old) version of Hell with his gruff, cinder-charred voice. To say that, outside of the presence of Cronos, the 2015 version of Venom has little to do with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends who pioneered black metal in the late '70s and early '80s, is an understatement, but to their credit, 21st century Venom manage to sound like they're at least entertaining themselves. The architecture may feel a bit phoned in, but the 14-track set is delivered with the panache of pros who know that their names will be written in the cement, as evidenced by stand-out cuts like "Rise," "The Death of Rock N Roll," "Stigmata Satanas," and "Long Haired Punks," the latter of which, a ferocious Motörhead-style banger with considerable cojones, is much better than its a little-long-in-the-tooth title would suggest.
Black metal godfathers Venom left their glory days behind in the late 1980s, but founder Cronos' "never say die" attitude has lasted well into the 21st century. The band's 14th studio album shows them clinging to relevancy with grim resolve, and occasionally hitting the mark. It's a lukewarm return to hell, saddled with a bloated run time and plagued by missteps like the dismal chug of "Smoke" and "Mephistopheles." Venom fares much better when they ditch the nu-grooves and look backwards.
Welcome To Hell, 1981. Black Metal, 1982. Two albums that inadvertently gave extreme metal its bloody birth. Because of those classic records (brimming with blasphemous, ramshackle speed metal), Venom's reputation as black/thrash metal progenitors is carved into legend – there's nothing Venom, led by sole original member Conrad "Cronos" Lant (bass, vocals), can do that will ever take away the cultural and musical significance of their first two albums and to a lesser extent, 1984's At War With Satan.