Houston, Texas occult rockers Venomous Maximus have created a minor name for themselves throughout the decade with their riff-heavy approach to the genre. Having had the pleasure of reviewing an excellent occult album just a little while ago, Sabbath Assembly’s Rites of Passage (one of the rare 4’s I’ve given out this year), it would be tempting to do a direct comparison. But these two bands are very different, and one difference is that Venomous Maximus try their darndest to move past the “occult” label and appeal more generally to the metal masses. Like their records before it, No Warning is an attempt to appease fans of both the sinister and the catchy. In other words, they seem to be striving for ownership of the same plot of land Ghost lay claim to.

No Warning is essentially divided into two marginally distinct sides. The first side pays homage to their occult roots, with songs like “Spellbound” and “Pray for Me” serving as upbeat, anthemic sermons, while “Return of the Witch” is the sequel to their most well-known song, “Give up the Witch.” It’s a driving number that, like most of the songs here, is centered on a killer riff, with a churning bass line juxtaposing the guitars and Gregg Higgins’ demented-preacher sing-chant style giving it all a bit of an uncomfortable feeling. The acoustic “All of My Dreams” is a disturbingly effective number about obsession. All told, the songs feature at times ghoulish lyrics sung in mesmerizing fashion atop catchy, almost commercial music.

The second side brings out a slightly more traditional, NWOBHM version of the band. Here’s the title track, which could be straight from on older Judas Priest album, and the heaviest song present, “Sea of Sleep,” which definitely has a trace of Black Sabbath in it. But looking at No Warning as a whole brings to light a couple of flaws: first, there is a lot of repetition here, with both sides opening with a lurching, electronic prelude and both sides throwing out a token acoustic number (ironically, the acoustic instrumental “Endless” is the shortest song on the album). It’s like the band had the first four songs written, and then said “Let’s take those four songs and make them more metal and less occult.” Some more variation in the songs would have made No Warning stand out much more.

Production suits the music to a T, with sharp guitars and a very punchy rhythm section. Venomous Maximus essentially have two big draws, the first of which is the riff-heavy, catchy-as-hell songwriting. A lot of these songs come off as a bit cheesy, but they’re so well written and performed, and sound so good, that it feels like a guilty pleasure listening to them. I didn’t want to like No Warning, but I couldn’t help myself. That’s a testament to the band’s talent in all departments. The second draw (or liability) is Gregg Higgins. His vocal style is definitely unorthodox – he more intones the lyrics than sings them, and with his deep tone he sounds like a gothic snake oil salesman. His style won’t be for everyone, but it does add an unmistakable charm to the songs.

On No Warning, Venomous Maximus keep doing what they do best: catchy, hooky, riff-driven metal firmly planted in the NWOBHM world, but with a dollop of occult goodness thrown in. Their style takes away from the more sinister aspect songs that the Ghost-like “Blood for Blood” and the heavy, fuzzed-out closer “Sea of Sleep” might otherwise possess, making one think they’re having too much damned fun to be threatening, but that’s okay. As they have before, the band deliver a solid record with plenty of great moments despite some repetitive portions.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Shadow Kingdom Records
Websites: venomousmaximus.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/VenomousMaximus
Releases Worldwide: July 28th, 2017

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  • Panagiotis Krokidas

    I’ve been listening to the album a lot the last days and I agree on the dual character of their music, which comes as a drawback. But it is needed so well crafted that I don’t care that much. I like it!

  • Nukenado

    This sounds great. As a listener of songs more than albums (not enough time to just chill and enjoy an album, especially the long ones), the coherency isn’t something that bothers me.

    I enjoy the vocal style, BTW. Definitely adds more occult factor to the music.

    • Diego Molero

      I don’t like listening to just a couple of songs here and there, it’s always the full album or nothing with me. It’s definitely not a practical thing to do, but I like it better that way.

      • Nukenado

        Yeah, I listen to the full album whenever I can, but I can’t find enough time to do that for most albums.

        • Diego Molero

          Yes, it’s definitely a difficult thing to do, specially those long albums as you mentioned. That’s why I have an enormous list with albums I have yet to listen, I just don’t have the time.

          • Nukenado

            I know your pain. I have many albums yet experienced in full.

  • Nukenado

    Oh, also, horrible 70’s album cover.
    Nice dog Latin though.


      Looks more 90’s to me. The advent of horrible photoshop botch jobs and windows-font band logos.

      • Nukenado

        I don’t think this is photoshop yet, but yeah, the Windows font band logo is early 90’s.

        • Drew Music

          Ah, yes, back when you could see Papyrus font and know you were about to get cut up by some serious edge.

          • [not a Dr]

            You must mean “paper-cut up”…

  • Ta2dlam

    I find the vocals to be a draw rather than a liability. He seems to fit the style they are creating perfectly. The change-up around the 4 minute mark is a welcome respite from the main initial riff the song is structured around.

    • Óðinn

      Agreed. Definitely. Too many of these bands are trying to sound like Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford. These guys are a refreshing change. I like the vocals. No more falsetto, enough already.

  • Horsepower Elite

    I could imagine Dio singing the embedded track.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      It would greatly improve it.

      • OzanCan

        Don’t you mean, approve it? :S

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I meant that the song would greatly improve if Dio was singing it!

          • OzanCan

            Ok now I got it! m/
            Sorry I thought it was little ambiguous

    • WhamBamSam

      Yeah, the singer has the same sort of theatrical emoting that you might get from someone like Dio. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have much else.

  • HeavyMetalHamster

    Vocals grate after a while.
    Too pretentious?
    Especially during All Of My Dreams.
    It’s definitely a drawback for me and too bad because I liked the music and his growl is good too.
    The 2 ambient tracks also seem odd and out of place…..

    • Bas

      I agree. The vocals have some charm, but after a while they become a bit annoying…
      By the way, thanks for making me aware of that Dead Cross album!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • HeavyMetalHamster

        No problem!
        The new Dead Cross, for me , is the best thing MP has done since AOTY.
        His vocals are incredible.

  • Señor Jefe El Rossover

    I dig Venomous Maximus quite a bit, I thibk they’ve improved their sound here greatly. I highly recommend you catch them live if given the chance. Tons of fun.

    • Óðinn

      I’m gonna agree with Señor Jefe El Rossover.

  • lennymccall

    Huge fan, kinda biased. I’ve yet to get a chance to spin the whole thing but from what I’ve heard so far I’ll be a happy camper.