Venom – From the Very Depths (Spinefarm)Tuesday, 13th January 2015
My first exposure to this infamous UK act would be as an early teen through some obscure K-Tel vinyl compilation on metal… as they decide to add “Witching Hour” to the mix of otherwise pedestrian Krokus, Black Sabbath, and Rainbow tracks. 36 years later, bassist/vocalist Cronos plugs along as Venom release their 14th studio album in From the Very Depths – naturally evolving from their primitive, raw and blackened speed metal youthful years into something a little more mature, refined and polished. Still a trio (guitarist Rage and drummer Danté round out the current lineup), the twelve main songs plus two instrumental interludes possess a lot of that primal instinctual attack, just channeled in tighter manners for the public to appreciate from a stronger musical standpoint.
Lyrically still subscribing to the comfort of blood, destruction, and hell as well as the genre at hand for “The Death of Rock N Roll” and “Long Haired Punks”, the prominence of Cronos’ beefy bass tone gives Rage and Danté the adequate liberty to romp and stomp in a way Venom established decades prior – sometimes double kick heavy, other times a touch groovier and sludgy. The title cut contains a little exotic tapping break elements right out of the gate, while the follow up “The Death of Rock N Roll” has a lot of early Motörhead at heart, especially in the main riff and Cronos’ gritty mid-range delivery.
Occasionally dipping back into 70’s influences like Led Zeppelin for the main riff on “Smoke” (picture “Kashmir” a half step lower and given today’s pedal effects power), there are other moments where Venom choose to take more of a mid-tempo doom and gloom outlook that can lean to the current marketplace (place “Crucified” and the rhythmic/guitar see-saw battle “Grinding Teeth” firmly here). Venom anno 2015 has a little bit more intricacy and interplay that separates itself from the early twenty-something, pissed off energy that made Welcome to Hell and Black Metal legendary in the underground – so if you understand that going in and assess this record purely on its own, From the Very Depths contains a lot of catchy material.
Not over-produced, Venom deserves accolades for pushing envelopes in the underground – and even if their discography has had its share of twists and turns, they maintain a level of integrity that needs to be respected.