After the demise of the triumvirate from hell that is the original line-up of VENOM, there are all sorts of sides taken concerning on who prefer what kind of VENOM. Considering the let down that was “Calm Before The Storm”, in my opinion, it’s hard not to side with Mantas (guitars) as the winner of this round. The right hook that is “Prime Evil” is enough to knock most Metalheads on their ass and they do so with a renewed vigor that hasn’t been heard for quite some time.
From the opening mid tempo stomper of the title track or the older sounding Thrasher that is “Carnivorous”, I find it hard not to like every track on “Prime Evil”. The writing is perhaps stronger on this album then it was when the band was at their most influential and although a rough production prevents it from being a truly ‘blow my own brains out it’s so good’ album, it’s hard for any fan of Metal not to see how ridiculously awesome “Prime Evil” is. Even on that, when has VENOM had a good production prior to this album? The answer is never.
I also find it interesting that the only remaining member of VENOM from the album prior is Abaddon (drums) and it’s his performance that is the weakest on the album. Mantas picks up as if he never left with his now almost signature riff work and he pulls some great chemistry with guitarist Al Barnes (whom this is his debut with VENOM but would go on to play with Mantas in various other projects). Despite some solid performances all around, I have to tip my hat to new vocalist/bassist Tony Dolan. Although Cronos will always be the original VENOM vocalist, Dolan simply destroys this album. In all good ways! His vocals bare a remarkable resemblance to the departed Cronos, but he delivers the goods just as solid or even better than the man he replaced with some awesome grunts included.
This is definitely the lost ark for VENOM. “Prime Evil” is positively a monster on almost every level of Heavy Metal. Even the cover of “Megalomania” (which some of you will recognize as a BLACK SABBATH song) fits right in to the mix on the album and VENOM just slays it. So for those fans out there that will fight for the Cronos eras of VENOM, all I have to do is hold up a copy of “Prime Evil”. Although the Mantas era may never reach the height as this one did, it’s nice to know they pulled it off once and better then most of the band’s past and future catalog.
Songs to check out: “Parasite”, “Blackened Are The Priests”, and “Harder Than Ever”.
(Online June 3, 2009)