I’m one of those anomalous fans who likes Venom’s music, and Black Metal in particular, but doesn’t like the genre it allegedly spawned. Even only finding tenuous entry points into thrash and speed metal as a whole (give me Evile and Iron Reagan, please), Black Metal was a revolution in depravity when I listened to it in high school.
Now the band is out with their fifteenth studio Storm the Gates, and Cronos, joined by Rage and Dante, bring ’round the classic Venom sound – I suppose what might be called in today’s language – blackened thrash metal.
Storm the Gates will be available on December 14.
Check out my full review of Storm the Gates here.
The album starts off raucously with “Bring Out Your Dead.” The sound immediately reminds any listener who may have forgotten and puts on notice any listener who may not have known that Venom is a band out of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, no matter how gravely Cronos’s vocals are, the sound of the track is still large enough to earn its NWOBHM cred. As Cronos barks “Bring out your dead // the smell of decay // bring out your dead // living hell every day,” I know I want to hear this song surrounded by thousands of other sweaty headbangers.
“I Dark Lord” is a track that beats up the listener for almost five minutes. The instrumentation pounds as thrash does, but Cronos’s vocals seem to want to cause the song, and the listener, to drag. Succumb to the dark lord.
Venom announces to the listener with the fourth track, “100 Miles To Hell,” that we are closing in on Lucifer’s domain. As a Venom fan, a Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman fan, an agnostic-raised-Christian, and someone who has been playing the Doom games since elementary school, I wonder exactly what the road map to hell looks like, and what the scenery out the passenger side window looks like once you close in like that. Venom, themselves, may be among the chief cartographers of that road map, having welcomed us to hell back in ’81 (I wasn’t born yet).
“Dark Night (Of The Soul)” is a punky fight song “Hey, you motherfucker! // What you looking at?” and threats to bust someone’s nose. The track pounds as Cronos alternates between barking quickly and dragging his vocals out. And for it all, the song seems to be a precursor to the next track “Beaten To A Pulp.”
Storm the Gates at different times speeds up or slows down, all within a sort of acceptable thrashy range, it aspires to the lo-fi sound that has made Venom a staple, and Cronos’s vocals are as gritty and disgusting as ever.
“Over My Dead Body” is a strong track, where the band finds its rhythmic unity and thrust the listener into the ebb and flow of their sound for the first part of the track, before breaking lose in the second part, all the while Cronos insists, “Over my dead body!!”
“We The Loud” is a headbanging, fist-pumping heavy metal track with a closing instrumentation that’ll tempt to work you up into a frenzy with its pounding repetition.
Make sure to Storm the Gates on December 14, whether you’ve been rocking with Venom since they were Guillotine, if you came on board in the late 2000s or early 2010s with the classics of Black Metal and Welcome To Hell, or if you’ve never heard Venom before, you’re bound to find something for you.