Venom are one of those old workhorses that just won’t stop, they’ve survived line-up changes, accidents, the odd hiatus and every bloody sub-genre of metal under the sun. Now thirty years or so since they decided to make black metal a thing, they have just released their fourteenth album, From The Very Depths, and show no sign of throwing in their satanic towel any time soon.
Venom have always been one of those Marmite bands, some people love them, some can’t stand them. I can’t stand Marmite but like Venom so it all works out. With that in mind I’m going into this album with reasonably high expectations, those expectations being a lot of Satan and a whole lot of bass.
I was surprised by Eruptus, the first track on the album. In part due to it not being an immediate metallic punch in the face (I’m looking at you Antechrist), and in bigger part due to the volume. A word of warning; it gets louder. Don’t do what I did and crank up the volume only to have to lunge for the volume control moments later.
The second, and title track, is where the album kicks off proper. Fans of Venom will be happy to hear Cronos sounding as gravelly as ever and the classic raw production that pretty much defines Venom’s sound. La Range and Dante are comparatively new to the Venom camp but continue to prove themselves more than worthy.
As per usual, the production is very bass heavy. It’s especially evident in tracks like The Death of Rock N Roll and Long Haired Punks where you could nearly be convinced that it is bass, and not guitar that is meant to be at the front of the mix.
You won’t be surprised to hear there isn’t much by way of respite from the standard Venom speed approach. Though there is the odd moment. Smoke dials back the aggression and the speed for a lumbering stoner groove while Ouverture is a short acoustic island in the metal ocean. Unsurprisingly the tracks that follow these tend to sit on the heavier side as if to show they haven’t suddenly gone soft on us.
Tracks like Grinding Teeth stand out as well. The intro on the higher guitar strings is a bit of a surprise on the ears after getting so used to all the low end song starts. It’s a minor change, but it’s enough of a change to act as a little slap to the face to make sure you’re still paying attention.
Venom, like AC/DC and Motorhead have worked hard to develop a certain sound, and they’ll be fucked if anyone is going to tell them to do anything else. Time goes on and music trends come and go, but it’s always good to know you have these consistent bands waiting in the wings to remind you why you got into this kind of music in the first place.
(and I know they aren’t strictly black metal, I just wanted to finally use this picture)
From The Very Depths is out now via Spinefarm Records, visit the band’s website for more.