Sanctuary / Universal - 1765715
Released 9 June 2008
Recorded at Doomtoon Facilities, England
Produced by Conrad Lant
Album Artwork Concept by Conrad Lant
Where would´ve the underground ended up without the likes of Motörhead and Venom? Their groundbreaking combination of speed, white noise and pounding double bass was unlike anything else, drawing the blueprints for metal madness to come. While Motörhead stuck to the biker look and streetwise attitude, it was Venom´s satanic imagery that danced with the devil. The beast had crept into the music previously with Ozzy screaming “No. No” as satan was coming around the bend, but not until Cronos chanted “Evil. In League With Satan” was the horned one so effectual as he headbanged along to the beat of the band. Although the antics of Venom may have been somewhat tongue in cheek, it was this persona that influenced countless band in the underground today. Venom were probably the most influential NWOBHM band of them all, unwittingly created the genre of music known as Black Metal. Probably Death Metal and Thrash Metal as well. This is of course old facts but the interesting thing is whether the casual Venom fan really needs anything more than their seminal early-80´s output?
The answer is yes. Since the return of Cronos in the mid-90's, Venom have released three very strong albums, Cast In Stone, Resurrection and Metal Black. All albums a must have for any serious metal-fan. And now it´s time for a fresh chapter of evil. The new album Hell have certainly harnessed the horribly raw, shambolic fury that first endeared them to black-hearted headbangers nearly 30 years ago. It might lack the peaks of 2006´s Metal Black but is overall a stronger album. Hell is compared to its predecessor more experimental and has just a little more bite.And it´s definitely a grower. Tracks like The Power & The Glory and Hand Of God didn´t impress me the first spinnings but feels above average today. Cronos incredible bowel-loosening demongrowls remain the focal point of blasters like Armageddon and Evilution Devilution, but with the new La Rage replacing guitarist Mykvs the band have pushed the sound in a slightly more brutal and straightforward direction. And it suits them perfect. A great example is the awesome Fall From Grace, with its infectious raw guitarriff.
Venom have truly delivered a great album. Stuffed full of anthems that shows that they are still black, still metal and still alive. Honest old-school metal, made by a band who understand the style better than anyone. From the opening Straight To Hell, a song guaranted to get fists punching in the air, through the galloping mighty titletrack, over the aggressive and savage Evil Perfection to the last scary deathgrowls of Cronos on Dirge/The Awakening, this is a band that shows they are on great form. In fact, the only slight dip comes with Blood Sky, but soon enough we´re back on track with the hamfisted rumpus of USA For Satan, Cronos boxing your ears once again and La Rage conjuring up some red-hot licks over Anttons six-cylinder thrusting drums. The Legions sure will not be disappointed. Welcome back to Hell, lads.