If you’ve clicked on over to Angry Metal Guy and need an introduction to Venom, you’re probably at the wrong web site, lady. My obsession with this band started at the ripe old age of eight or so and has never really faltered, even though bands like Deicide, Gorgoroth, Possessed, Morbid Angel, Midnight, Mayhem, et al. have since come along and out-Satanized and out-Venomed Venom. At this point we all know Venom are about as genuinely evil as a Devil Dog [The tasty treat, not the Cujo variety. – Steel Druhm], but 36 freaking years into the game, and so many lineup changes that the official band bio teeters near 18,000 words to explain it all, they still can deliver the metal goods.
The current triumvirate of ringleader Cronos, guitarist Rage and drummer Dante have been at it since 2011’s Fallen Angels, itself a solid release that was a bit of a departure and came across as if they had something to prove, leaning a bit more towards speed metal than their usual fare. On From the Very Depths, however, our grand Satanic Majesty brings us the classic brand of grime and chaos with a sound updated just enough to hold par with the countless bands to come along in their wake. Yet nothing on it smacks of, as Chris Rock put it, Venom trying not to be “the old guy in the club… every club you go into, there’s always some old guy. He ain’t really old, just a little too old to be in the club.” Dante and especially Rage are twice the players of their predecessors in the classic lineup (no disrespect to the legacy of Abaddon and Mantas, of course), but their chops never get in the way of the barbarism that has been a trademark of Venom‘s sound since day one. The skull-ring encrusted middle finger that Venom has forever waved in the face of the world may look a bit more wrinkly and stiff with arthritis, but the “fuck you” can still be heard loud and clear.
A brief intro, “Eruptus,” opens the proceedings, leading right into the pugilistic battery of the title track. Rage spins a blistering solo ten seconds in, then that fucking voice of hell, the one and only Cronos, ever Satan’s rancorous loudmouth, spews his full on Velveeta lyrics over the top while Dante pounds at the kit like a Neanderthal. “The Death of Rock N Roll” is about as sophisticated a song as the title would imply, but an absolute blast, with some of the most mind-numbing lyrics of Venom‘s entire discography. This ain’t Djent and this ain’t a new Cynic album. It’s Venom to the core.
“Grinding Teeth” launches with an almost technical guitar part (GASP) but luckily that bulldozer of a bass sound comes in and craps over it all in the most glorious shizer fashion. I’ve always liked Venom best at their utmost Luciferian. “Sons of Satan,” “Satanachist,” “Welcome to Hell,” “In League With Satan” and the best Venom song of all time, “In Nomine Satanas.” Real practicing Satanists or not, as an eight year old, that shit was scary and Venom still manage to capture that essence, particularly on the slower and lumbering “Evil Law” and “Stigmata Satanas.” The production has just enough of the old filth that you know it’s Venom right from the gate(s of hell), but benefits from all the balls and brawn of a modern recording.
There are, as with any legendary band that changed lineups, detractors that refuse to listen to anything past At War With Satan, and they missed one of Venom‘s finest moments, 1989’s Cronos-less Prime Evil, as a result. Then again, they were spared the steaming dung heap that is Calm Before the Storm. Undoubtedly, the naysayers will be pissing all over From the Very Depths before hearing a single note. Were one to judge a book by its cover, I wouldn’t blame them. That cover art, the Cronos-ispired eunuch demon, the orb. Yowza. I wish they had stuck to the simpler iconic days of the first four albums. Even Possessed, a much maligned LP that is one of my favorite Venom platters, looks more menacing.
Then again, few things are scarier than creepy little kids. Trust me, I’ve got three of them. Venom fans old and crusty should give From the Very Depths a chance. It may not be another jewel to sit in the crown alongside the first four albums, but it’s solid and fun enough to live up to the legacy that we love them for.