The battle of the venoms might have a victor!
It’s almost a time honored for bands WAY passed their prime too have a couple of funding members, or members of the classic era, to squabble over the remains of the glory and what money remains that one might be able to squeeze out of the once proud brand. As I’m writing this, the hopeless embarrassing remains of the awful band RATT is a great example of one “has been” suing the other “has beens” for a right to a name that once generated a lot of money, but no longer does. The parallel I’m trying to draw is the battle for the remains of the genre defining band Venom. One called Venom and fronted by original front Cronos, who returned to the band after an ill fated stint in the pop rock world. A second version is Venom Inc. featuring both Tony Dolan, who replaced Cronos on both vocal and bass in 1988, and original guitarist Mantas.
Both bands have done their share slamming in media, with Cronos calling Mantas “an old hack, has been who has lost what little sanity he had” and Mantas replying with stuff like “Cronos has lost all contact with reality”. About two years ago the Cronos lead band released From the Very Depths which, quite frankly, wasn’t very good… From earlier on I have kind of prefered the Tony Dolan material to the classics as I find the songwriting to be better, lyrics less cartoony and production less half assed. This album could get Dolan and Mantas back on top of the venom hill, and, boy, does it ever.
The album rules, it rocks, from start to finish. Mr. Dolan sound evil through and through. The vocals are slippery and creepy and then turns around barks and snarls. I totally love the voice, the lyrics are a bit on the silly side of things, but just like Doyle, the silliness is part of the attraction to the whole horror genre. Dein Fleisch is just the right amount humor and horror, the tune is totally creepy and snarly. Ave Satanas sound like a leftover from earlier Venom and in competition with Metal We Bleed, is the most classic sounding track on the record. War might be one of the coolest songs I’ve heard in awhile. It has this x-factor thing; when a simple, kind of monotones riff blends a rhythm section that drives the song ever forward, topped with some catchy vocals.
Time to Die has this Danzig-era Misfits / punk feeling to it. It’s rather fast and spitting, totally in your face as the word couplet chaos / anarchy is hurdled towards you. I Kneel to No God has a bluesy tone … kind of … not in a Black Sabbath way or a Gary Moore kind of way, but still bluesy. The final track of Avé is Black n’ Roll which delivers exactly that.
All in all a great album, with a nice thick sound, creative and fun tracks that fit nicely with older material. Venom Inc has the upper hand, the material is better and the live show is better. The only thing Venom has got going for the band is Cronos, but he seems rather out of these days and more about clinging to the past than going forward.
Pluss: Great rock n roll, fun lyrics, high air guitar factor
Minus: monotone sound
Recommended tracks: War, Dein Fleisch, Black n Roll
Rating: 4 / 5