Neat 1005 LP
Released November 1982
Recorded at Impulse Studios, Newcastle, England
Produced by Keith Nichol & Venom
Album Cover Artwork by Conrad Lant
Since the release of their In League With Satan single, Venom had been on a non-stop success path not even they would have expected. Anticipation was very high for their follow-up LP to Welcome To Hell and thankfully they delivered. The new record, entitled Black Metal, was released in November 1982, and metal would never really be the same again. You have to remind yourself that this came out 25 years ago. And that's the crux of it, while listening to the album for the first time it must be hard (in 2007) to understand what all the fuss was about, but you have to think back, to realise that in 1982 there was Accept, Motörhead, Maiden, Saxon......there was no Metallica, Bathory, Slayer, they all came later. And that's why this album had the colossal impact that it did, because it was (like Welcome To Hell had been) utterly otherworldly.
Keith Nichols production job is a little more polished than on Welcome To Hell. But Welcome To Hell was simply unrepeatable, and the same sort of production wouldn't have suited Black Metal. The band sound very "live in the studio" and there is a very roomy feel to the album. Mantas guitar is raw and distorted, though thick at the same time, once again making it sound like a blur of noise. Really, what the hell did Mantas do to his guitar to get that sound? It's like no other guitar sound on earth, much darker and evil than on any other Venom album. Abaddon's drums are more "real" sounding (than on the debutalbum), with the snare almost perfect. The real treat is Cronos bass though. Amazing. The meaning of "bottom-end" is captured here. Plundering and boomy, it breathes and beats through the record, giving the sound maximum heaviness. Of course, because of the live feel, Cronos vocals blare out in true punk fashion, impossible to ignore.
Virtually every song here is a classic, the riffs being prototype black/death riffs that every extreme metal band has copied since. This is the kind of album one can play over and over and never grow bored with, never stop headbanging to with gusto or maniacally air guitaring along with. The album starts off with the title track, that has a slaying main riff that will make your neck snap and your eyeballs pop out. Together with a fast paced drumming, rolling bas lines and a very catchy chorus this makes a thrash explosion! Moving onwards To Hell And Back is a little more sedate, but no less effective. More memorable riffing and a great solo to go with. The claustrophobia of Buried Alive shows that proper metal bands can do slower stuff without it being completely lame. This is a classic track by anyone's standards and segue's superbly into the awesome Raise The Dead. Side One (yes, we are talking vinyl here!) closes with the riotous, unexpectedly laugh out loud hilarious Teacher's Pet. You can dismiss it as childish, out of place and whatever else, but Venom always had a sense of humour and it shows on Teacher's Pet which is the most politically incorrect song you will ever hear.
The first track on the other side of the vinyl, Leave Me In Hell, is in many way a typical Venomtrack that is so there intense hellgloryfying that only Venom can do. Sacrifice is one of my favorite Venom tracks, with that cool S.A.C.R.I.F.I.C.E. chorus backed up by those slimy riffs. Heaven's On Fire all display guitarist Mantas ability as a riffmaster and one of the greatest guitarists in extreme metal, once again. Fantastic track! The legendary Countess Bathory is next up. Probably the coolest metal song ever without a guitar solo and catchy as a bird flu. The middle creeping riff being wonderful to this day. Don't Burn The Witch is another fast paced Venom onslaught. Cronos vocals are perfect here, as they are throughout, throaty but without the levels of pointlessness and stupidity that would come later in the Death Metal world. Last but not least, we get At War With Satan (preview), although only a preview, this is an epic teaser of what was to be the full song. The beginning is just a spoken part and then you catch just a bit of instrumental parts. Very dark and evil lyrics.
The biggest-selling metal record of 1982 was Iron Maiden's The Number Of The Beast. Black Metal tears that record to pieces all days all weeks the year around. The best record in the history of music? Perhaps.