Venom Inc. – There’s Only Black (Nuclear Blast)

Friday, 30th September 2022
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Happy accidents occur even in this long-running metal industry. Case in point – Venom Inc. starting in 2015 at the insistency of fan, agent, and promoter demand. There’s Only Black is the second album from the trio – the follow-up to Avé, with one shift in the lineup as new drummer Jeramie ‘Warmachine’ Kling takes over that throne. Choosing to keep the legacy of the band alive while writing material true to that spirit this many decades later is not as easy as it seems – yet these gentlemen strive to achieve those goals through their current work, so let’s see if these twelve tracks swim (or sink) based on numerous exposures.

The primal nature to the riffing and solo breaks from Mantas (Jeff Dunn) allows bassist Demolition Man (Tony Dolan) the proper opportunity to unleash his savage, gritty vocals in mean, angry, and forceful ways. When being crunchier through semi-staccato/thrash-like movements for “How Many Can Die” or “Man As God”, you can feel the energy surging through the aural landscape, the latter fueled by Tony’s racing, raspy voice keeping up to the faster tempo in the verses. Additional haunting atmospheric elements creep in now and again, setting the stage for a more classic headbanger worthy effort like “Tyrant”, Jeramie executing a steady snare/cymbal template while being controlled in his double kick action – the fills providing that dynamic uplift against the mid-tempo to doomy guitar/bass foundation. Calmer, clean strains as well as Tony’s bass ethics make “Burn Liar Burn” a second half standout – the feel, pacing, and execution textbook in its NWOBHM-oriented principles as it goes from a tranquil opening to a rip your head off, speedy Slayer-esque arrangement like conjoined twins being removed unceremoniously. Adhering to as natural an approach as possible in today’s digital production landscape isn’t easy – but most will appreciate the authentic snare, tom, kick sounds of the drums, plus crushing bass/guitar sounds, which allows Venom Inc. to stand out in a marketplace of carbon copy modern recordings.

Establishing a reliable set of material right away for Avé, it’s evident that Venom Inc. are determined to deliver current songs that embrace what they previously set forth in the early days, without tarnishing the spirit of aggressive, speedy heavy metal in 2022. There’s Only Black should appease most fans of these musicians – and possibly bring another younger generation into the fold.

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