It’s impressive that VENOM has made it as far as they have. With all the different and volatile egos that have graced the band’s line-up (including all three founding members Cronos, Mantas, and Abaddon) it’s a wonder this band is still around 20 years later. And not only that – but this latest release, the oh so cleverly titled “Hell”, is a solid release.
With only one remaining original member (vocalist and bassist Cronos) it seemed that perhaps VENOM would not be the same band as they were – and in ways they aren’t. Long gone are the VENOM of ole and this modern VENOM, which arrived only a few albums ago – is here to stay.
“Hell” continues in the style established on their last album “Metal Black”, old school ideas mixed with modern songwriting. There is still a heavy emphasis on groove without leaving their Thrash tendencies but this time with a few changes.
Of course, what is a new VENOM album nowadays without a new member, and this time comes new guitarist Rage. His style is similar to the VENOM style although I would say his riff writing and solos are a bit weak compared to previous guitarists. There are some very badass guitar parts going on with awesome riffs but overall weaker than they might have been.
Cronos and Anton are still in the lineup and the chemistry between the brothers is highlighted on the album by the emphasis of rhythm both in song writing and production wise. Naturally, the production is hit or miss (what VENOM album isn’t?) and the bass lines take over in most sections. After a while, the listener will become accustomed and it doesn’t seem so overwhelming so it’s something one can tough out.
“Hell” is undeniably a VENOM album. It’s clear in its straightforward song writing and general sinister tone. It’s a very solid album from the band with mostly great tracks from the band (there is a section of 2 or 3 songs in the middle where it drags a bit with some filler) and the album ends on a high note with the satirical track “USA For Satan”. Fans of newer VENOM will love this album but fans who haven’t moved from the “Welcome To Hell” stage are going to skip this one.
Songs to check out: “Straight To Hell”, “Fall From Grace”, “Blood Sky”.
(Online September 10, 2008)