Venom Inc. have announced that they will release their debut album Avé on August 11th 2017 via Nuclear Blast Records. In case you need a catch-up, Venom Inc. features two original members of Venom (guitarist Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn and drummer Anthony ‘Abaddon’ Bray) along with vocalist/bassist Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan. The trio released three albums together as Venom in the late 80s/early 90s, most notably the fantastic and overlooked Prime Evil.
Although original bassist/vocalist Cronos currently performs and records under the Venom name, these three ex-members have been touring a classic Venom set under the name Venom Inc. since 2015. Now they have announced this album of new material and released a NSFW video for their new song Dein Fleisch.
It’s not the kind of old-school metal I was hoping for from them. Its down-tuned chugging and theatrical vocals are more Rammstein than Motörhead. It’s also a bit too slick and tight for my liking. I prefer my Venom out-of-control and filthy! If the rest of the album is more reminiscent of classic Venom then this might make for an interesting odd-one-out song. But if the rest of the album is like this then I’ll probably ‘ave to pass. What do you reckon?
I don’t normally get all that excited about covers EPs (Danzig excepted) but Thus Defiled’s A Return To The Shadows is a total riot. The release marks the UK black metallers’ 25th year in action and sadly, also their last. The quality-over-quantity band hasn’t exactly been prolific during that quarter century so the chance to hear some new recordings is hugely welcome.
The main attraction is the new track Armagedda In Rapture and it’s a scorcher. The impressive production is simultaneously clinical and savage. It’s pure riff destruction with fantastic demonic vocals and it’s easily the best black metal track I’ve heard this year so far. The kind of song that’s so awesome it just makes you laugh the first time you hear it.
The rest of A Return To The Shadows is taken up by cover versions and, interestingly, the band opted to only cover non-black metal material. It turns out to be a great call as the band are able to put their own spin on a batch of songs that less daring souls would consider unfuckwithable.
They scythe and scream their way through Death’s Evil Dead and Metallica’s Creeping Death. Impossible to top such classic tracks but they inject so much energy and spark into them that the effect is like hearing the songs for the first time. You can’t ask for more than that.
Next up is a bewitching version of Morbid Angel’s Demon Seed and as an extra bonus they’ve got Morbid Angel/Nocturnus legend Mike Browning adding superb ominous and cultish vocals to another belter of a track. The cover of W.A.S.P’s Hellion that closes is the weakest here, a shade lost under the windy howls of vocalist Paul C, but with repeat listens it starts to make more and more sense. The riffs are undeniable and a black metal band that covers W.A.S.P. deserves instant HMO bonus points.
It’s a brilliant EP. Tons of fun and if it wasn’t digital I’d have probably worn it out by now. Fans of extreme metal should not miss out on this download-only release (available here). All the band ask is that you donate anything you can spare to the Chuck Schuldiner-approved musician’s charity Sweet Relief. It’s a great gesture and, with the band deciding to call it day and slink off into the shadows, a great way for them to close out an impressive career of evil.
With its stunning artwork and a concept covering themes of power, avarice and corruption, Craven Idol’s The Shackles Of Mammon promises to be a scathing, angry and cohesive statement. And for the first four tracks Craven Idol certainly sound spitting mad. Pyromancer and A Ripping Strike are absolutely raging black thrash of the old Kreator/Destruction variety, Black Flame Divination is awesome Venom-style hooliganism and The Trudge is epic Bathory-worship. But cohesion proves to be a problem as the rumbling Dashed To Death and Mammon Est prove largely forgettable and, although they are decent enough tracks, Hunger and the doomy album-closer Tottering Cities Of Men struggle to regain the listeners attention. Fans of crusty venomous metal will find lots to like here but the album frustratingly fails to capitalise on the in-your-face intensity of its first half. Overall, The Shackles Of Mammon scrapes above average but there’s a shitload of promise here if the band can deliver with more consistency.
This has become a surprise favourite in recent weeks. I had suspected it would be a middling retro genre effort but Vampire have totally surpassed my expectations with their second album With Primeval Force. It’s not original and doesn’t linger in the mind after listening so it doesn’t quite have the makings of a classic… but it’s still one of most enjoyable albums I’ve heard so far this year. And if the band continues in this promising vein, hellish greatness awaits. The ghoulish vocals and melodic riffs bring to mind Tribulation’s album from last year, the myth and magic vibe recalls Dissection and the savage thrash and bash reminds me of Teutonic terrors like Kreator. In fact, if you thought Kreator’s Gods Of Violence album from earlier in the year was a shade too polished then this will be right up your street.
I’d like to calm the jets on the spending after my Record Store Day extravaganza but let’s take a look at today’s new releases and see if that’s likely to happen. The answer is: probably not.
Voivod – Rrröööaaarrr, Killing Technology and Dimension Hatross (Reissues)
Wouldn’t normally kick off with reissues but I’m pretty excited about these. And no need to worry about splashing the cash here because I’ve paid for them already via the Pledge campaign (now closed). Don’t worry if you missed out though, because these are now on general sale. Vinyl versions or hugely-expanded deluxe 2CD/DVD sets with bonus tracks and live footage aplenty. Prices look very reasonable for the deluxe versions and all of these have been out-of-print for donkeys so reissues are overdue and welcome.
(And Noise Records have just announced another pledge campaign too. This time for Kreator with reissues of their first four albums Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill, Extreme Aggression and Terrible Certainty. They aren’t as extras-laden as the Voivod reissues and none of the albums are especially hard to find either but Extreme Aggression and Terrible Certainty come with bonus discs and there’s the obligatory liner notes, vinyl editions and signed copies etc…)
Skyclad – Forward Into The Past
These innovative folk metallers have been a huge, essential part of my musical upbringing but since the split with frontman Martin Walkyier I’ve not really paid much attention to their movements. I did check out their last album In The… All Together and found it was a bit mixed so I’m not hugely excited about this. But they’re still enough of a name for me to at least check it out online. And the return of classic-era guitarist Dave Pugh is appealing too.
Witchfynde – Divine Victims (Box Set)
The reissues keep on coming… There’s been a lot of welcome NWOBHM reissues lately (Samson, Holocaust, Savage all spring to mind) and here’s another. This time Witchfynde get the same box set treatment that Samson enjoyed from Hear No Evil Recordings. I don’t think any of these albums are as difficult to find as the Samson ones were but it’s still a great value set: three albums with bonus tracks and a booklet from NWOBHM expert John Tucker. I’ll be buying this at some point.
Cirith Ungol – King of the Dead (Ultimate Edition)
The guys at Metal Blade follow up last year’s tasty reissue of Paradise Lost with another Cirith Ungol deluxe. This time it’s the band’s second album King Of The Dead, here expanded with live tracks and a live DVD or you can get a vinyl edition if you prefer (although it was reissued on vinyl a while back already). The CD/DVD edition looks like a very cool set though. I approve.
Fates Warning – Awaken the Guardian Live
Prog-metallers Fates Warning release this weeks obligatory live set. Their performances celebrating the 30th anniversary of the classic album getting a release in various formats. The jewel in the crown being the 4CD/DVD/BR set that has their two festival appearances included.
Elsewhere, the River Runs Red line-up of Life Of Agony return with A Place Where There’s No More Pain. Sounds like decent, heavy alternative rock for people that like that kind of thing. There’s more NWOBHM from Cloven Hoof with Who Mourns For The Morning Star. They’re a band I don’t know anything about but the new songs I heard sounded fun! And last, but not least, we have American hardcore terrors Terror with their intriguing new EP The Walls Will Fall.
And that’s about the lot for me. This week is more about the reissues for me but there’s definitely some intrigue among the new albums too. Nothing I’d run out and buy but definitely stuff that I’ll check out online. Let me know what you think about this week’s offerings. Anything you’re excited about that isn’t here? Any startling omissions? Let me know and, until next time… happy hunting.
This weekend is going to be dominated by Record Store Day (the tenth one!) but there are still some interesting “normal” new releases for you if you can’t be bothered with all that queuing nonsense on Saturday.
Artificial Brain – Infrared Horizon
“Death metal in space” was a recurring feature in my Top Albums of 2016 and it looks like it might be this year too. It’s only April and here come Artificial Brain with this wonderful album of… you guessed it… death metal in space! An almost-concept album about cyborgs, it’s totally brutal and guttural and also really expressive and creative. A must-buy.
Night Demon – Darkness Remains
Bit of retro trad metal for the oldies! Night Demon have already enjoyed plenty of plaudits for their previous releases but the reviews have went into gush overdrive for this one. I’ve not been blown away by what I’ve heard but I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve heard the whole thing.
Vampire – With Primeval Force
Umm, pretty much the same as I said for Night Demon. Retro (evil death/thrash) with great reviews but I’ve not been convinced by what I’ve heard. Just sounds a bit dull to me. I’ll reserve judgement again but I’m even more skeptical about this one than the Night Demon album. Great cover though!
Rotting Christ – Thy Mighty Contrast
Fresh from me posting about it earlier in the week, here comes Peaceville Records with a plush vinyl reissue. This is missing the excellent bonus tracks that are on my CD copy but it looks like a mighty edition with cool liner notes and all that. It’s also freshly remastered and I believe Peaceville are going to be working through the catalogue so you might as well just hop on here so you can buy the whole bloody lot.
So what about Record Store Day then? I don’t usually bother with it that much but I’m not a pure stick-in-the-mud about it either. That said, it’s a bloody minefield to post about so you’re as well just checking out the RSD websites here and here for full lists and make your own mind up.
I quite fancy the Def Leppard EP (got it on 7inch already but it’s just the plain sleeve version and I fancy this edition), Enslaved’s Roadburn Live disc also looks cool and, if I strike out on those, the Crazy World Of Arthur Brown LP and the Cheap Trick Epic Rarities set would be acceptable booby prizes. As the rest of the metal RSD17 releases go, the Dillinger Escape Plan Instrumentalist single, Kylesa Live At Maida Vale and Katatonia Proscenium all look fairly collectible too, if you’re a fan. I’m gonna head out and try and pick up the Def Leppard EP but reportedly there’s a reissue campaign of early Lep stuff on the way that will probably include the EP tracks (and more hopefully!) so even the EP isn’t totally essential. But it’s all just a bit of fun so I’m going to get up early… not too early… and try my luck.
And that’s about the lot for me this week. Let me know what you’re after today or if there’s any Record Store Day releases that you’ve got your alarm clock set for. Happy hunting!
Apologies for the slightly late posting but it’s still Friday, and you know what that means… new releases! And quite a bit of them so I’m just going to fire through these.
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand
Obviously a big release but, cards on the table, I’ve not been a fan of the last couple of Mastodon releases. I was initially intrigued by the return of producer Brendan O’Brien and the return to the Crack The Skye-style concept. But the three tracks I’ve heard haven’t really got me going. I liked Sultan’s Curse but the other two just reminded me of The Hunter. If you’re still a Mastodon fan though, you’ll be excited about this… and rightly so! No particular format variances but I think I saw some vinyl editions that came with a colouring-in set? Genius!
Gruesome – Fragments Of Psyche EP
Gruesome continue their musical homages to the late, great Chuck Schuldiner. On the title track of this EP it looks like the might be moving away from the Leprosy-worship to take a crack at the Human-era. And they’ve even recruited ex-Death/Cynic drummer Sean Reinert to help them out too. Throw in a Death cover and a bunch of old demos and you’ve got the makings of a pretty worthwhile and fun EP. My pick of the week for sure.
Voivod – Build Your Weapons: The Very Best Of The Noise Years
A good chunk of the band’s Noise output assembled across two discs and a decent taster if you just fancy dipping your toes into their early catalogue. I’m more excited about the upcoming reissues but I might just grab this anyway just to get into the spirit. And I want to encourage more of these Noise reissues… there’s a back catalogue to die for there so vote with your cash to get the kind of releases you want and deserve!
Necroblood – The Collapse Of The Human Race
Evil death metal debut album from France. Hearing very good things about this one and, if the cover’s anything to go by, this should be terrifying enough to appeal to black metal fans too. It’s all about Be’elzebub so it doesn’t get much blacker than that, eh? Sounds like it’ll be right up my diabolical street.
Other big(ish) releases today include Arch Enemy’s live at Wacken set As The Stages Burn! which seems to be either a CD/DVD, 2LP/DVD or a CD/DVD/BR/POPUPBOOK. Metal. I had no idea Demon Hunter were so popular, so their latest album Outlive should be good news to someone. Do like the art but the music’s a bit too nu-metal for me. And there’s also some topical rap-metal on offer today, as IceT returns with Body Count’s Bloodlust, an album he claims will be the best of 2017 across all musical genres. Should be a must-buy then… unless he’s just talking out of his arse. Go buy it and then let me know would you?
If you’ve been enjoying the recent rethrash album from Power Trip and Havok and want to keep moshing, you might want to try Warbringer’s Woe To The Vanquished. I wasn’t too fussed about the new track Remain Violent though, apart from the excellent solos. The now-defunct Isis release Live VII. I know a lot of folk love them but I’m not into them enough to know if a seventh live album is all that exciting a prospect, or even necessary? Fans of the colour yellow will want it just for the cover though. In case Necroblood wasn’t fucking evil enough for you, there’s also a new EP from Polish band Medico Peste, the excellently-titled Herzogian Darkness. And last, but not least, Saturn release Beyond Spectra, their second album of retro 70s, spacey, heavy rawk on Rise Above Records.
And that’s the lot for this week. If there’s anything you fancy that I’ve not covered, let us all know about it in the comments. Before you all rush out the shops there’s only one thing left to…
Vote for your favourite cover of the week! Only takes a moment and low voter turnouts are bad for democracy. Do your duty!