Hammer Open Air Metal Festival - Venom LIVE 2013
Hammer Open Air takes place near the town of Lieto in Finland and my first impressions of the site were that it was a fair bit smaller than I expected, the capacity was just over 1 000, and for the earlier bands there were a lot less than that. Everything was extremely well laid out with the two stages side-by-side and bars, the food stall, undercover seated areas and merch stands round the outside. Has to be said though, it was an ideal setting for a gig.
I get down to the barrier before Venom started, and as soon as they launched into their set it became immediately obvious that a pit full of rabid Finns during a Venom gig is the ideal place to witness the mayhem to come. Honestly, from the moment Rage unleashed the first riff of Black Metal that was it, the place went mental. Circle pits, crowd surfers, the lot. Loved it! That they are able to open with a song as great as this and not have to save it for last hammers reminds us what an amazing back catalogue they have to draw from. Another memorable riff and some nice bass lines come with Leave Me In Hell, the bass kind of rolls in and out in this awesome track. Raw, black and fast in 2013, imagine how those two songs sounded to people on its release as Kiss I Love It Loud and No One Like You by Scorpions topped the charts.
Welcome to the birth of black fucking metal.
In 2011 Venom released one of the best albums of their career, Fallen Angels, and it is obvious from the masses of fist-pounding and headbanging that the heavy, heavy single Hammerhead is a fan-favourite already.
Bloodlust crushes all in its path. Boasting one of the most metal-laden riffs ever written and it´s one more example of this band´s wide-ranging influence. Where would thrash metal be without them? Probably still waiting to be invented.
The grandiose Possessed/Schizo/Live Like An Angel/Possessed-medley emerges as a definite highlight, followed by the second song, Hail Satanas, from the latest album. A modern Venom classic, in the form of Antechrist is up next and what is crystal clear with this band is that they are very confident about what they do, and rightly so. Cronos hair-line may have retreated somewhat, but little else has changed. His presence and charisma are unbeatable, belting out the satanic lyrics as he hammers his bass as if his fingers were made of hammers. He and drummer Dante create a thick, yet somewhat raw and flattened foundation. On guitar, Rage is full of that early Punk meets Metal sound that has defined Venom's career. To listen to him play, it's clear that he knows how to craft his music to what is needed from song to song.
Venom put on a frankly brilliant show tonight, tracks like Buried Alive/Resurrection/The Evil One/Straight To Hell in the next medley (that has become part of most Venom shows of recent years) are great on record but, like most proper metal, need to be experienced live.
Warhead is the showcase for Dante´s masterful drumwork, with Cronos voice sounding especially strong, and manic applause confirms what a killer version we´ve just witnessed. The magnificent Fallen Angels with a healthy appreciation of catchy riffs and epic choruses ended the set but of course the trio come back for more.
The monster groove of In League With Satan is ridiculously great, the ultimate concoction of satanic lyrics and metal. Witching Hour, is the obvious way to go out – and what a way to finish, with the energy in the pit peaking. It may be 32 years old but Venom prove they are still the benchmark for extreme metal. Often imitated, never bettered.
Long live V-E-N-O fucking M!
Leave Me In Hell
Bloodlust / Black Flame Of Satan / Bloodlust
Possessed / Schizo / Live Like An Angel / Possessed
Buried Alive / Resurrection / The Evil One / Straight To Hell
In Leauge With Satan