Many, many years ago when I was just a budding metal-head, my band of choice was Iron Maiden. I had not yet developed an ear or a liking for metal other than Iron Maiden with the possible exception of Black Sabbath but, even then, it was Paranoid and not much else. Then, one day, my buddy Rod introduced me to Venom's "Welcome To Hell" album and, frankly, it scared the crap out of me.
Never before had I been exposed to something so brutal, so heavy, so demonic. I had no interest in it. I was content to listen to the first four Iron Maiden records and go about my business.
Fast forward several years and I'm at a midnight madness sale at the local record shop. The more you buy, the more you save at those things so I had my hands full of cassettes and fan mags including the live Venom album "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik". This would be the first time listening to Venom since the "Welcome To Hell" affair. Suffice it to say, my tastes had changed and I realized that Venom was not a band spawned from hell but a mighty fine heavy metal band that really knew how to throw it down. That was more than (dare I say) 25 years ago. Guess who's back with a new album...
It's been 30 plus years since Venom hit the scene with their "Welcome To Hell" debut and in that time they've gone through a number of personnel changes but their no-compromise approach to the genre they helped create has remained intact.
Now, in 2015, founding bassist/ vocalist Cronos, along with "Rage" on guitar and drummer "Dante", release Venom's newest creation "From The Very Depths", a 14 track journey into hell with Venom as your guide.
What can you expect from a group whose second album title, "Black Metal" is now being used to describe an entire musical genre? You'll hear a sound that is reminiscent of those early Venom albums but with modern studio technology which was, as they put it, "...employed only to increase the general level of nastiness and spite".
"From The Very Depths" kicks off with the intro/instrumental "Eruptus" before heading into the title track. Again, it sounds a lot like classic Venom with better production and, frankly, better musicianship in general.
The trio really gets rolling on track three, "The Death Of Rock N Roll" and they never look back. From "Smoke" to "Crucified", the sinister "Evil Law" to the bass heavy "Wings Of Valkyrie" Venom delivers on every cut.
My personal favorite, and the song that best demonstrates the humor that Venom injects into their writing, is "Long Haired Punks". There are only so many words that rhyme with "punk" and Cronos uses most of them in this song.
When a band, especially a metal band, has been around for more than 30 years, I never know quite what to expect from a new album. I think Venom has nailed it with "From The Very Depths". The music is everything you'd expect a Venom album to be... and then some. Cronos leads the way with his demon vocals and that thundering "bulldozer bass" we've come to know and love. It's that "Black Metal" feeling with modern recording techniques.
This may be the finest work Venom has ever done or, at least, the finest I've heard from them. Cronos may be the only original member on this record but he, along with Rage and Dante have put together a pretty special album. Fitting for a group that has been cited as an influence by no less than Slayer, Megadeth and Metallica.
As Cronos says, “This album is perfect! All three members are totally over-the-top confident with the new songs and the production… it’s a strong release and really shows the band maturing into an unstoppable force of pure Black Metal". I agree.