Impellitteri – Venom (Frontiers Records)

Tuesday, 7th April 2015
Rating: 8.5/10

Hailed as one of the fastest axe men of all time by a number of prominent guitar specialty magazines worldwide, Chris Impellitteri at age 50 has no intention of straying from his neo-classical oriented heavy metal formula for the tenth studio album of his name sake, Venom. Many may remember the impact the band made in 1988 through Stand in Line, a time period that put a lot of shredders on the map (Malmsteen, Moore, Becker, MacAlpine) and featured ex-Rainbow singer Graham Bonnet holding down microphone duties. Even as personnel changes plus experiments have taken place in more staccato laden directions, rest assured that Chris has come full circle in giving the followers a hefty dose of melodic songs and ripping leads that straddle classic and power lines.

The quartet on hand spit out 10 songs that slither between double bass oriented anthems that contain a lot of riffing in the 80’s Ozzy meets Priest vein if channeling a touch of the neo-classical arpeggio feel during certain bridge segments (title track and “Domino Theory”) or slightly more commercial arrangements that could rival Whitesnake on “We Own the Night” or Helloween on a lot of the harmonics within “Time Machine”. Rob Rock is one of the best vocalists for this melodic, neo-classical oriented metal style – the man knows the right range and picks his spots for those high money notes, and can engage with killer chorus harmonies on “Empire of Lies” as well as the sinister, slightly much more fierce “Nightmare”- the latter having a little King Diamond meets Alice Cooper tact during the verses and echoing chorus.

It’s fair to say Chris squeezes out every possible note he can during his lead break opportunities – and there’s no questioning his ability and prowess throughout. What delights me is the fact that he takes an equal amount of care to the main riffs and proper construction song to song to establish individuality in tight 3-4 minute maneuvers, which should help the appeal of Venom beyond the classic musician/Shrapnel audience.

Given the fact that Chris and Rob also have other present engagements running hand in hand (Animetal USA and Rob Rock solo respectively), it’s adequate to get new Impellitteri records in 4-6 year intervals. The fans (and fangs) for Venom wouldn’t want it any other way.

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