Venom are a band who need no introduction. They were one of the orignators of thrash, black, death etc metal and have influenced countless other bands. Mocked at times for their crude and simplistic musicianship, they've since managed to carve their names into history. At least for the first three albums then it all fell apart like a wet tissue. The main reason I'm doing this particular blog is because the line-up that made this album (Mantas - guitar, Abbadon - drums, Demolition Man - bass and vocals. Also, rhythm guitar on this was done by Al Barnes) have since reformed and called themselves - Venom INC. Well, the official name is Venom INC Iron And Steel. This is to avoid any disputes with current Venom front-man Cronos who apparently owns the rights to the Venom name and brand. It's not a new scenario as things like this have also happened with Saxon and Entombed and most notably, with Black Sabbath reuniting with the late, great Ronnie James Dio and renaming themselves Heaven And Hell - which was more of a Black Sabbath album than "13" but I digress.
This is the first album without Chronos who'd left and taken everyone except Abbadon with him after the quite frankly lacklustre 'Calm Before The Storm'. Abbadon hooked back up with Mantas and recruited both Al Barnes and Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan formerly of the band Atomkraft (I'm pretty certain my old band supported a band that had a couple of ex-Atomkraft members in there) to make this slab of noise right here, the one which I'm only blogging due to the same line-up regrouping to do a new album, more news if I can get it/be bothered. Before we get to it, I would like to mention that any blogs of 'classic Venom' - the first four albums, basically - from me would read more like love letters. I'd blog them but I doubt I could be objective - and like Bobby Heenan said at Royal Rumble 1992, "I apologise to the people, but I CAN'T be impartial!"
1) PrimeEvil - one of those bollocks intros with phones being unable to connect intersped with keyboards and stuff. Then the bass, drums and guitars kick in and we're off! Sounds like a mid-paced fist-banger which is fair enough, but picking up the speed would have been nice. The vocals are less slurry than Cronos, which is good. They seem to have an almost Brian Johnson (AC/DC), Paul Di'Anno (ex-Iron Maiden) quality to them. It's not a bad song per se, just a typical example of 80's heavy metal.
2) Parasite - Ooh, hello! Cheeky fast number with an excellent beat! This is the type of thing Venom would excel at. Underneath all the Satanic imagery and stuff, they were really just a punk band with long hair. This song rules!
3) Blackened Are The Priests - Nice bit of Gregorian chanting in Latin as well as organ overtones are the intro for this song. It's something that was dated by the time St Francis of Assisi managed to learn how to fix small animals but this does then lead into quite a galloping rhythm with some meaty riffs. This is indeed a good song. Already, any cobwebs that were showing on their last album ('Calm Before The Storm') are shrinking. I guess maybe Conrad leaving wasn't too much of a bad thing...
4) Carnivorous - Fuck yes!!! Ferocious metal which doesn't last nearly as long as it should. Excellent opening riff which carries the song along nicely. A gloriously noisy racket.
5) Skeletal Dance - Clean intro which builds atmosphere before smashing into a mid-paced thumper that then turns into a thrash beast! Quite reminiscent of some of the bands they may have inspired, no doubt learning new tricks. Great song!
6) Megalomania - Oh fuck, it starts off with a cowbell intro before launching into something that...sounds like cock-rock. Erm, I mean, glam metal. Nothing wrong with glam (unless your band is called Poison) and the song is actually quite good but it should have been left off this album, saved for a side-band or something as it sounds well out of place. Especially with that fucking cowbell...
7) Insane - MUCH FUCKING BETTER!!! Thrash metal which gets rid of fucking cowbells and instead, thrashes like it'ssupposed to. Definitely an influence of (then-)modern thrash in here, seems like the teacher may have been paying more attention to the students after all. Traces of early Anthrax and Nuclear Assault in here. Possibly early Exodus too.
8) Harder Than Ever - This is one which is clearly aiming for the sky. Heavy and anthemic at the same time. This would have no doubt sounded great live.
9) Into The Fire - One of those intros that is a radio going between stations, it then becomes a clean jangly intro for a bit of atmosphere - then the thrash beast awakes from it's cave, goes for a piss and makes some breakfast and a coffee! Great solo too.
10) Skool Daze - Blues-type intro which then goes into some furious thrash! I guess it's the sequel to "Teacher's Pet" from the 'Black Metal' album, except this one is a bit more of a thrash-monster with a better guitar solo. It's certainly a lively affair, as I'm sure Teacher was as well. The song ends with a group chorus of "GET YA TITS OUT FOR THE LADS!!!" and some lively banter.
11) Live Like An Angel, Die Like A Devil - Rerecording of the classic from 'Welcome To Hell', it is played faster in a slightly different tuning. Not too bad.
Well, that was great! Definitely an underrated album and a shame that they never did carry the momentum over to future releases (I've got "Temples Of Ice" on now as I type this and it doesn't sound as good so far, but we'll see). I'd still recommend the first four albums over this one- but I'd then recommend this one if you like the first four. It showcases a thrash sound which hadn't been evident before (mainly because thrash hadn't been invented by then) and may also show they'd been paying attention to the younger thrash bands of the time. Whether this was because they were trying their damnedest to stay relevant (which would have failed as by 1990, thrash was pretty much on it's way out due to changing musical climates) or of a genuine love for the music, who knows? Either way, it's still good.
8 - Oh you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.
Top Track: Blackened Are The Priests.
This album is available off iTunes - however, it's not available on Spotify.