Venom - At War With Satan (8/10) - Great Britain - 1983
Genre: Black Metal / Heavy Metal
Label: Neat Records
Playing time: 39:39
Band homepage: Venom
At War With Satan
Stand Up (And Be Counted)
Women, Leather And Hell
It was once said that VENOM are to music what Etch-a-Sketch is to art. I've always thought that saying that was incredibly harsh! Maybe VENOM's output after 1985's "Possessed" was mediocre at best, but that doesn't deter from the fact the first 4 VENOM albums defined Thrash Metal, gave Black Metal a name and helped in the development of Death Metal with Cronos' growled vocals. After the pure noise debut of "Welcome To Hell" and the genre defining "Black Metal", where could VENOM go next? They release their most challenging and engaging album of them all.
The album kicks off with an absolute monster of a track. The title track is an enormous ! This was unchartered territory for Heavy Metal bands. Not even MAIDEN had dared to write a 20 minute song! If you have heard the preview of "At War With Satan" at the end of "Black Metal", the song starts after the spoken introduction on the preview. Cronos sets the scene with his lyrics, Satan and his armies are getting ready to launch a full scale attack on Heaven and God, to try and take over. Apparently, Cronos was planning to write a novel about it, but decided to write an epic song about it instead! The song goes through so many riffs, solos and drum beats, but each is as memorable as the opening riff from "Black Metal" or "Countess Bathory", no mean feat for a song this long. Despite the periods of seemingly pointless silence, this song is the main reason why I bought this album. After hearing the previous two VENOM albums, thought that there was no way VENOM could write a song that is 20 minutes long and pull it off. But they do! And with great style too.
The rest of the album isn't too shabby either. "Rip Ride" is classic VENOM, great riffs, quick drumming and Cronos' superbly delivered vocals. A great way to carry on after "At War With Satan". The next two tracks are pretty forgettable. "Genocide" is has nothing going for it. No outstanding guitar work, lyrics or drumming and the less said about "Cry Wolf" the better. "Stand Up (And Be Counted)", on the other hand, is superb. It is a very uplifting song (oddly enough)! It is sounds like one of the great songs JUDAS PRIEST never wrote. The last real song, "Women, Leather And Hell" (if one statement ever summed VENOM, that is it!) is fast. This shows all of Venom's influence on Thrash with its speed and riffs. "Aaaaargghh" was Venom just pissing around in the studio and was funny the first time, but gets VERY old VERY fast. An utterly pointless way to end a great album.
Your opinion of this album is basically going to depend on what you think of the title track. If you don't like it, you won't enjoy the album, as it is the album's main component. If VENOM could have kept up the quality of the unholy trinity off their first three albums, maybe they would have gone on to achieve the same status as METALLICA or SLAYER, bands that clearly owed a lot to VENOM, but as it is, they remain a cult band. But "At War With Satan" is definitely worth picking up, just for the title track alone. (Online August 9, 2006)