Mpire of Evil – Hell to the Holy (Scarlet Records)

Sunday, 24th March 2013
Rating: 6.5/10

After a less-than-stellar EP in the form of last year’s Creatures of the Black, Mpire of Evil is hitting us with their milquetoast debut full-length, Hell to the Holy. Guided by former Venom members Jeff “Mantas” Dunn (guitars) and Anthony “Anttton” Lant (drums, who has since departed), Mpire of Evil holds up Venom’s grand tradition of sloppy, low-grade death/thrash. Guess if someone still fancies goofball metal with cliché lyrics and motifs, then Hell to the Holy is a safe bet.

Dunn and Lant are joined by former Venom bassist/vocalist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan (is it a pre-requisite to have a nickname in this band?), who applies a familiar vocal crunch to the proceedings. Of course, it’s hard to get behind just about anyone when songs as lyrically inept as “Metal Messiah” and “All Hail” pass on by, but that’s what happens when Venom is a part of yourmusical legacy. “Cerebral” and “Venom” are two terms that probably were never in the same sentence…until now.

Musically, Mpire of Evil is able to re-create a lot of the same Venom rumble and grumble on opener “Hellpsawn,” which possesses a nimble little riff-section from Dunn. In fact, Dunn is probably the best thing about Hell to the Holy, as it appears he still has a few riff-tricks up his sleeve, as evidenced on “Waking Up Dead” and the title track. However, Lant still has the darndest time staying on the beat, with flailing tempos going all over the place, which again, was a common happening in Venom.

Some old-timers are still in the game because they feel they still have something new left to say. That can’t certainly be the case for Mpire of Evil, who try their absolute hardest to recapture their Venom glory days on Hell to the Holy. Stating the obvious: this won’t make you forget your copy ofWelcome to Hell…as overrated as that album is too.

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