About as inspired just as much as it took time to think of the album title
Company: Sanctuary Records
Reviewer: Agent of Steel
Anyone with a modicum of fasination for the NWOBHM all should know that the later the albums, and I'm talking post '84 (with the exception of Iron Maiden but who is really counting them anyway?), generally lose any credibility the early releases may have had. Sure, bands like Virtue and Desolation Angels released some of the best and unknown NWOBHM much later than they really should have but those are the exceptions to the rule. Over 20 years after the British hard rock/heavy metal explosion that was short-lived but changed the Heavy Metal genre forever, is it even possible for a band to have any steam left in them? All foreseen pessimism aside, it doesn't take long to realize Venom "Metal Black" ain't the one.
The songs on "Metal Black" are about as inspired just as much as it took time to think of the album title. And the immediate lack of a real riff ruins the album completely. I haven't heard this much chugging since my last bowel movement. If you were to take away the open E string notes there would only be drums and vocals and the occasional crappy solo. "Metal Black" makes Black Label Society riffs sound refreshing. The gravelly bass and buzz saw guitar tone are nice touches in the right direction of the true Venom sound but is irrelevant without any real songs to team together. Cronos still sounds like a constipated demon. Yea, that was a compliment. Remember that because there won't be many more. Too bad the grunts and groans eminating from everyone's favorite cartoon satanist consist of phrases like "the blessed dead, gonna fuck you up". Lines like that would have luckily barely made it plausible in the 80's, most definitely not in 2008 from a middle-aged band. Sure, "Darkest Realm" prechorus might get your fist ready to pound and "Lucifer Rising" guitar solo might peak anyone's interest for another classic Venom track but it's just not enough. "Blessed Dead" are some of Cronos' most uninspired lyrics and "Assassin" just might be the most lame song yet, post "At War with Satan" this dark side of the Necronomicon.
If albums like "Metal Black" are all an influential band like Venom can conjure, this disapointed fan/reviewer will just have to stick with albums like "Black Metal" and "Welcome to Hell" for their over the top, satantic spellbound descent into hell.
Venom – Metal Black - 2006 - Sanctuary
2. Burn In Hell
3. House Of Pain
4. Death & Dying
5. Rege Satanas
6. Darkest Realm
7. A Good Day To Die
9. Lucifer Rising
10. Blessed Dead
11. Hours Of Darkness
12. Sleep When I'm Dead
14. Metal Black
I am a Venom fan. One of the “legions,” I suppose you could say. Of course, Welcome To Hell, Black Metal, At War With Satan… even Possessed. It’s a mess, granted, but what a glorious mess it is! I also really like the post-Cronos (pre-Cronos return) and much-lamented Prime Evil.
So, Metal Black, then. I’ve heard good stuff about it. I’ve heard bad stuff about it. Personally, I love it. They are hardly batting a thousand on this one, but some of the songs are on the level with anything they have done so far… “Antechrist,” “Burn In Hell,” “House of Pain,” “Death & Dying,” “Good Day To Die,” “Assassin.” They are updated just enough with heavy production, some pinch harmonics and great drums to not sound dated, but are still so damn VENOM. Some songs, like “Regie Satanas” you’d expect to be anthems akin to “Burn In Hell” or “Warhead” (I think Venom, themselves, expected it to be an anthem) but it is a clunker, falling too hard on old tricks and a chorus just a little too Neanderthal to be effective. When Metal Black hits though, it hits like a ton of bricks. Cronos sounds as rugged and pissed off as ever. Metal Black is an album that delivers what you want from Venom in spades, and while it may not quite live up to Black Metal or Welcome to hell, it certainly comes close and is not even close to being a smear on a legacy of a band that has certainly released some forgettable (perhaps even regrettable) stuff in years past.
--Al Kikuras Name 02.14.06