Welcome To Hell

Venom

Combat Records, 1981

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/30/2000

I normally don't like reviewing albums in MP3 format, but sometimes that's the only way I can get my filthy hands on an out-of-print disc without paying through the nose for a well-worn copy. Such is the case with Welcome To Hell, the 1981 debut release from British headbangers Venom. (Memo to my friends at Spitfire: Please, find a way to get this band's early discs reissued soon!)

Oh, sure, these days the sound might be laughable, and some of the things that Venom spews might seem sophomoric compared to other bands with a demonic edge. But back in '81, this trio was considered shocking, not only for their sound, but because they were - egads! - promoting Satanism in their lyrics. (Whether or not these guys believe this stuff in real life, I don't know - but if your kid is "influenced" by this kind of music, you need to be locked away for raising your kid to be a spineless sponge.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Production-wise, Welcome To Hell is lacking - though you have to take things with a grain of salt and realize that Venom - Cronos, Mantas and Abbadon - were part of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, and they had gotten in on the ground floor. There aren't many spine-chilling guitar solos, and often it's damn near impossible to decipher these lyrics.

But there is something to Welcome To Hell that makes the listener think that there just might be something to this band. Tracks like "Sons Of Satan," "Red Light Fever" and the title track, while no masterpieces in the genre, do suggest that greater things would be coming from this group. Further evidence of this is heard on "In League With Satan," which succeeds in its minimalistic style. There's even suggestions of musicianship, as heard on the musical aside "Mayhem With Mercy".

Yet Welcome To Hell shows that more work needed to be done. Tracks like "Schizo" and "Poison" don't suggest that Venom would become one of the most notable (if not infamous) bands from this point in British metal history, and they don't do terribly much for the listener.

These days, if you come across a CD copy of Welcome To Hell, you might see a price tag of about $20 for a used copy. That's a bit much, I'm afraid - though if this disc came out tomorrow at a budget price of $10, I'd gladly snag a copy (along with the other early albums of Venom's career - which I've also got in MP3). It's an interesting, if flawed, picture of a band's birth cries (or would that be screams in Venom's case?), and is still worth checking out... just not at inflated prices.

Rating: C+

User Rating: B-


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© 2000 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Combat Records, and is used for informational purposes only.