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Venom - Black Metal [reissue] (Cover Artwork)

Venom

Venom: Black Metal [reissue]Black Metal [reissue] (2003)
Castle

Reviewer Rating: 3.5


Contributed by: feeeding5000feeeding5000
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I was recently debating with my theologian friend about the nature of the end of the world, the so-called "apocalypse." He thinks that, when the fate of humanity is uncertain, and everything is at its darkest, Jesus will return to earth, and bring the righteous to heaven. Conversely, I think that at.
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I was recently debating with my theologian friend about the nature of the end of the world, the so-called "apocalypse." He thinks that, when the fate of humanity is uncertain, and everything is at its darkest, Jesus will return to earth, and bring the righteous to heaven. Conversely, I think that at the end of the world, Cronos, Mantas, and Abbadon, the three members of the heavy metal band Venom, will ride around the planet on flaming motorcycles, exploding the heads of the righteous and handing out miniature liquor bottles and packs of cigarettes to sinners.

Since I know that intro paragraph is going to be edited out, I think I'll start here with the actual review. [Fuck no, that's the best and only relevant opening paragraph you've ever written.]

1980s thrash metal band Venom, for better or for worse, laid the foundation for the raspy-voiced, ultra-tremolo noise that we now call "black metal" with their second album, the obviously titled Black Metal. Of course, Venom's sound itself had very, very little to do with the stuff from "the Northern mountains of Norway," but this album created the fascination with the occult, the leather-and-corpse paint style, and the adoption of ridiculous pseudonyms that has been imitated by everyone from Celtic Frost to Xasthur.

So, yes the aesthetic of Black Metal was a big influence on black metal, but Venom's music is more of a punk-metal mix, along the lines of, say, an inept Motörhead. There is zero room for subtlety in the music -- it is loud, fast, hard, and heavy, although you should keep in mind that this is all by 1982 standards, so it's not really much scarier than your average Danzig album. The vocals are pretty much Lemmy-worship, ands it seems like vocalist Cronos is trying hard to make his vocals sound as "American biker" as he possibly can. Because of the sub-standard production, the bass is pretty much unnoticeable, if not inaudible, and the drum sound is weak, akin to beating the shit out of a bunch of cardboard boxes.

Black Metal begins with one of Venom's fastest, and best, tracks, "Black Metal." The lyrics are about how awesome metal is, and then there's all this bullshit about Satan, but it is so good that it doesn't really matter. "To Hell and Back" and closing track "Don't Burn the Witch" move along at a Maiden-esque gallop, while "Buried Alive" takes on a more Sabbath-y solo-heavy approach. The track "Countess Bathory" is ostensibly where Bathory, the band that created the black metal musical style, got their name. One song, "Teacher's Pet," is hilariously juvenile, essentially being a goof along the lines of "Hot for Teacher." Unfortunately, Venom thought it would be a good idea to end the album with a "preview" of their next album, At War With Satan, so the title track of that album begins, and then just sort of fades out the minute you get into it, making for a really weak ending.

This reissue of Black Metal comes with one of those shitty cardboard sleeves that goes over the jewel case, except this one has a relief of a smiling devil, which makes it pretty cool. It tacks on some bonus tracks of single versions and songs recorded for the BBC, and there's a nice little booklet that tries to remind you repeatedly that their Satanism is "just a gimmick" and that they are anti-church-burning.

I guess what differentiates Black Metal from the other New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands is how raw and primitive they are. At the time, Motörhead was considered simplistic, and these compositions are sub-Motörhead. It's really closer to the punk idea of just playing simple songs, fast and fun, than it is about any Satan-worship or classical guitar skills. And that, not the demons and pentagrams, is what makes Black Metal so damn entertaining.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (June 8, 2007)

I really love your reviews, dude. You need to do more on crust and d-beat bands, though; both bad and good. Your review of Aghast is hilarious.

Anonymous (June 7, 2007)

propagandhi loves this band.

jesuschrist (June 7, 2007)

even though these guys are mean to me, i still think of them as my (secret) favorite group. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh........

Anonymous (June 6, 2007)

"Venom, however, was far more Image than Substance. I don't think any of those three guys would deny it, either."

True, but look at their music from a modern metal standpoint; for such a simplistic, gimmicky band, they accomplished a hell of a lot for the genre.

Anonymous (June 6, 2007)

still blast this and the next lp while enjoying the local skate park. cool to have a prop and venom mention this week. prop would be happy.666.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

The song "Countess Bathory" and the band name are both in reference to Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian countess from the 16th century who loved to bathe in the blood of virgins. Read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_B?¡thory

strangenotes (June 5, 2007)

BLACK METAL

LAY DOWN YOUR SOUL TO THE GODS OF ROCK AND ROLL

Anyways, I don't think Venom would put themselves anywhere near the realm of punk, but I think they've been a huge influence on real punk bands. Like Motorhead, it's not complex or intricate, like a lot of the other metal at the time, esp. NWOBHM. It's stupid dudes pounding out music as hard as they can. In that realm, it's punk to me.

(And don't even start to use that logic to defend the weak, nu-alternative pop that gets reviewed here the rest of the week.)

misterspike (June 5, 2007)

"But in my defence, there's been Deicide and Slayer reviews on this site, and they're not any more punk than Venom. Plus, I think there's some sort of punk influence to Venom - it's not like they were writing really technical songs, you know? Plus, especially around the mid '80's, maybe a little after this record, punk and metal were really sorta cross-breeding...hence thrash, crossover, crust, black metal, etc."

Good point.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Wait, saying a band isn't very "punk" because of image over substance? What alternate universe are you from where shitty punk bands didn't dress the part?

Score is for the album. One of my favorite metal releases. All you "punx" who can't stand black metal should just die.

feeeding5000 (June 5, 2007)

But in my defence, there's been Deicide and Slayer reviews on this site, and they're not any more punk than Venom. Plus, I think there's some sort of punk influence to Venom - it's not like they were writing really technical songs, you know? Plus, especially around the mid '80's, maybe a little after this record, punk and metal were really sorta cross-breeding...hence thrash, crossover, crust, black metal, etc.

feeeding5000 (June 5, 2007)

Oh, fuck, Misterspike, I didn't realize you were an oldtimer. No offense meant, I thought you were another of the typical 'Org posters.

misterspike (June 5, 2007)

I'm not basing my opinion on whether Venom is "punk" or not based on mohawks, hot pants, eyeliner, or whatever the kids these days are into. Rather, I'm looking at it as an aging music fan that actually saw Venom live close to twenty years ago (!). Putting them in the context of punk rock (with twenty years hindsight) by saying the record is "...really closer to the punk idea of just playing simple songs, fast and fun, than it is about any Satan-worship or classical guitar skills" is great, and I think I could agree with that statement to a degree. Venom, however, was far more Image than Substance. I don't think any of those three guys would deny it, either.

Essentially, when you look at Punk in the late 70's, early to mid-80's -- Venom, in my opinion, just isn't it. What's hysterical to me is that in '86, Black Flag somehow wound up opening a Venom show somewhere in NJ. Rollins writes a bit about it in Get In The Van. It would have been interesting if Venom had to have returned the favor, opening for Black Flag at one of their headlining gigs. I wonder what the punks and skins that populated Flag's fanbase at the time would have thought of Venom's brand of punk rock.

Hey, it was a great review. I'm just raising the question whether a band that labels themselves as "Black Fucking Metal" is punk.

JayTee (June 5, 2007)

We want to eat your brains!!!

feeeding5000 (June 5, 2007)

Person below me:
It's "Lemmy", not "Lenny". And as for not fitting the spectrum of "punk" - there are, let's say "hundreds" of bands reviewed on this site that have even fucking LESS to do with punk than Venom does. Shit, when you're looking at reviews of the latest indie-rock album or some shitty Victory metalcore album, don't you think "what does this have to do with punk?" Of course you fucking don't, because you don't know shit :).

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

This band pretty much laid the foundation for extreme metal as we know it.

There is a very prominent bass on this, especially on the title track.

This music is not less complex than what Motorhead was doing. Sure, its grittier and rawer than a band such as Maiden, but keep in mind, a lot of the songs paved the way for the drumming styles in Death and Black metal.

The voice is a lot grittier than what Lenny or any preceding vocalists in metal had done, although there is a huge metal influence.

This record deserves at least four stars, and is a must for anyone who likes speed or thrash metal.

Other than that, good review.

baseball (June 5, 2007)

Venom? really?

elephantdwarf (June 5, 2007)

"Not to bash the review(er), but I'm having a difficult time figuring how this fits as "punknews". I have a feeling these three aging buffoons would feel the same way."
Venom is and was more punk than you will ever in your life be. this website should change its name so close-minded "punx" stop posting stupid fucking comments like this. charged mohawks and butt-flaps do not a definitive definition of 'punk' make.

misterspike (June 5, 2007)

Not to bash the review(er), but I'm having a difficult time figuring how this fits as "punknews". I have a feeling these three aging buffoons would feel the same way.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Wow, I am truly, truly amazed. I can't believe that I didn't have to re-post that intro in the comments section. Anyway, I also asked that the editor "Place umlauts where applicable" or something like that. Whoo.
-feeeding5000

theonetruebill (June 5, 2007)

This album rules, and so does the editor's comment.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

I have a venom pin on my guitar strap hahahahahahahaha.

Phantom_Maggot (June 5, 2007)

I always enjoy your reviews. Keep up the good work.

GlassPipeMurder (June 5, 2007)

So I already scored the review, here's for the music.
Terrible metal about retarded topics like Satan worshiping.
Everything that's wrong with music as I hear it.

Albert_Belle (June 5, 2007)

Wow, Venom.

GlassPipeMurder (June 5, 2007)

score is for the intro and editor's comment combined.

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