“Hell” by Venom

Artist: Venom
Title: “Hell”
Label: Sanctuary Records
Release Date: 8/12/2008
Genre: Thrash Metal
Rating: 2.5/5

Despite the claims, I am and always have been one of those Metal fans who never felt that Venom was a Black Metal band as an outfit even though they might have coined the phrase and chose to run with it. Now while I might find their fan base screaming for my head in this “blasphemy” let’s be honest here and look back at how their older material always had more of a Thrash Metal meets gritty Hardcore Punk vibe to it. When you compare this stuff to the likes of bands such as Mayhem, Emperor and those who really walked the dark paths in the name of Metal after their inception then you shall probably agree with me. Still, they managed to remain an influential unit who would inspire the likes of Testament, Slayer and even Metallica based on the material that they were delivering and that is a good thing considering the incredible output these bands delivered during their own careers. Venom returns to us with their latest studio recording entitled simply as “Hell” and this is a follow up to 2006’s “Metal Black”. Since I had rather enjoyed that album I was interested in seeing how the band would do with its successor and therein lies the issue since even after a couple of listens I was not finding myself all that pleased with what I was hearing. It starts off strong with “Straight To Hell” and once again the band continues a solid thrashing as they inform the listener where they are destined to end up. The title track is also rather strong and has an impressive groove to it but when it comes to tracks like “Fall From Grace” I feel that they lose some of the momentum based on how it runs as a tune. To me this seemed more contrived as Cronos yells his main lyric while the drums of Antton slam behind him. What’s weird about it is how it swaps from one format of tune to another and it was not what I expected from Venom. It didn’t end there in the confusion as “Stab U In The Back” and “Kill The Music” sounded like something that was more suitable for Motorhead to be doing. The band redeems for a short time with “Blood Sky” and “Evilution Devilution” but then they deliver the Thrashing Punk themed “USA for Satan” which is downright stupid. Venom now has Rage on guitar who has replaced the talents of Mykvs who left sometime in 2007.

The album closes with two bonus tracks that are recorded live and these came out pretty good and are a nice way to end this release. They are even, and captured very well with no instrument or vocal drowning out the other. Of the two live tracks I found that I liked “Burn In Hell” the most. It was a really driving number that delivered. Hard core believers in the Venom way will say I just don’t get it with my having never been there for the band in the beginning as much as they were and I will disagree for I was truly impressed by some of their later years output and enjoyed “Metal Black” quite a bit. “Hell” is a different story altogether and one that does not show the band as choosing to remain relevant in the scene that they helped to build. 2008 was a year that found many bands returning to a format that made them great and I was saddened to see Venom failing miserably as opposed to kicking their influence up a notch again. This is recommended more for the bands longtime supporters as opposed to those who seek to start their quest into the bands music. Those folks would be better served with the latest Dimmu Borgir or Belphegor to see just how far the Black Metal envelope can be pushed nowadays.

Track Listing:
1. Straight To Hell
2. The Power And The Glory
3. Hand Of God
4. Fall From Grace
5. Hell
6. Evil Perfection
7. Stab U In The Back
8. Armageddon
9. Kill The Music
10. Evilution Devilution
11. Blood Sky
12. USA for Satan
13. Dirge/The Awakening
14. In League With Satan (live) – bonus
15. Burn In Hell (live) – bonus

Official Website: http://www.venomslegions.com

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