Steamhammer / SPV Records, 2000

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When I was a teenager, I stayed away from groups like Venom, whose dark, sinister lyrics flew in the face of everything I had been brught up to believe, thanks to years of Catholic school education. Plus, I just didn't enjoy the music.

Now, it's about 15 years later. My own religious views are cemented (one of which is that I do not believe there is a devil - and, please, save your e-mails on this subject). I average a couple of discs in the mail a week which feature groups who walk on the dark side. I've since amended my views of what I will listen to; the Pierce Memorial Archives now contain numerous works from Slayer, Mercyful Fate and King Diamond. (My buddy from that time period, who was heavily into such groups, would probably drop his teeth if he read this.) And, yes, I'm now re-discovering Venom, thanks to the latest work from this British trio, my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Resurrection.

Make no mistake that after two decades together (well, on-and-off togetherness), Venom has turned itself into a tight musical unit. Vocalist/bassist Cronos, guitarist Mantas and new drummer Annton pull off 14 solid musical performances on this disc - and don't think for a minute that their views have softened over the years.

If anything, though, their demonic imagery has become - well, standard. So many other groups have taken what these guys basically pioneered that when the grandfathers of black metal roar forth, it almost takes on a "been there, done that, bought the t-shirt" quality. And this, frankly, isn't the band's fault.

There's no doubt, though, that even after an influx of artists in this genre, Resurrection might still cause some people's eyes to bulge at some of the lyrical imagery. Tracks such as "War Against Christ," "Black Flame Of Satan" and the title track all serve as proof enough of this. Yet Venom is able to keep your interest not only through the lyrics but through a controlled delivery of the music. They know when to keep the beat down a bit, and they know when to turn everything up to 11; that's something that only comes with experience, something Venom has by the boatload.

Yet songs about Satan aren't all that Venom is about these days. Resurrection, instead, focuses on a darker side of human existence, exploring things many bands don't care to touch on. Tracks such as "Vengeance," "All There Is Fear" and "Control Freak" all paint a different portrait of the human experience, and whether you agree with Venom's views or not, it is something which deserves to be brought to the forefront.

If you didn't know Venom's past, you'd swear this particular line-up has been together for ages. But with original drummer Abaddon leaving the band as the album went into pre-production, the challenge of keeping a tight musical ship became an obstacle for Venom. Fortunately, Annton is more than up to the task, and the band sounds incredibly fresh.

If Resurrection is your first taste of Venom, chances are you're going to like what you hear. If you've followed the band since the early days, this disc should not let you down. If you're one of those fundamentalist liar - oops, I mean ministers - on television... well, you're not going to like this disc, and it make your hairpiece stand up on end. Oh, well. Two out of three ain't bad.

Rating: A-

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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 Steamhammer / SPV Records, and is used for informational purposes only.