Picture of Venom

Welcome To Hell

Venom - Welcome To Hell ©1981 Neat/Combat
1. Sons Of Satan
2. Welcome To Hell
3. Schizo
4. Mayhem With Mercy
5. Poison
6. Live Like An Angel
7. Witching Hour
8. 1000 Days In Sodom
9. Angel Dust
10. In League With Satan
11. Red Light Fever
12. In Nomina Satanas
13. Bursting Out

So you figure that the three members of Venom were sitting around a pub in the late 70s and watching both the punk scene and the rise of Motorhead in their native England and finally one of them exclaimed, "I got it! Let's use Motorhead's leftover musical ideas, except not nearly as accomplished as those fine prodigies, and sing songs about Satan! That'll surely upset parents everywhere, dadgum it!"

And so begins the silliness that is Venom. Welcome to Hell is indeed an apt title for the album as it is a torturous trip through exactly how bad music can get. If you thought Motorhead was raw and poorly produced, you ain't heard nothing yet. Venom's debut album sounded like it was recorded with cheap handheld tape decks, only at a distance of fifty feet. The trio's music and songwriting was hardly able to overcome the awful production as it sounded like every riff Motorhead rejected. (And yes, I'm fixating on Motorhead for comparisons because in 1981, there weren't too many other bands playing metal music this ugly and stripped down to the barest essentials. But unfortunately, Venom stripped away things to the point that the essentials were also forgotten.) The trio played with only the rudimentary knowledge of what the hell they could do with their instruments, relying on the shock value of songs about Satan to cast attention away from the fact that they really were amateurs. Great showmen, indeed, but still amateurs. There are occasional decent moments in the racket and din, but c'mon, who wants to bother finding them?

As I've said before, I do appreciate Venom's existence and for helping inspire scores of bands far more talented then they. Any band who inspired Bathory, Celtic Frost, Sodom and countless others at least deserves a tip of the hat and maybe even a hearty handshake. But at the same time, there really is little need to actually hear Venom.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Black Metal

Venom - Black Metal ©1982 Combat
1. Black Metal
2. To Hell And Back
3. Buried Alive
4. Raise The Dead
5. Acid Queen
6. Blood Lust
7. Teacher's Pet
8. Leave Me In Hell
9. Sacrifice
10. Heaven's On Fire
11. Countess Bathory
12. Die Hard
13. Don't Burn The Witch
14. At War With Satan

My question is exactly how seriously should we take Venom and the album that gave an entire genre (and subsequently a "lifestyle") its birth. On one hand, the band's music is obviously amateurish, lacking depth and very much British tongue-in-cheek humor. But on the other hand - and more significantly - this is the band that inspired countless other metal acts such as Bathory on down the line to today's current crop of extreme metal. Without Venom, these bands may have been quite different. With an album like Black Metal, one must retain that perspective that by itself, it's downright hilarious and so over the top that it can't be taken seriously. Yet much of the music I enjoy today is a direct descendant of this particular trio. Frankly I have no need to really listen to this sort of thing aside from giving the album a respectful nod. With the band obviously still trying really learn their instruments (and it is debatable if they ever succeeded) and the songs being so basic that Motorhead seems like Mozart in comparison, Black Metal is a larf all the way through. The lyrics, especially in the case of "Teacher's Pet", are just downright amusing. For the most part, Venom is the Monty Python of metal who just happened to accidently spawn a much more interesting scene and style than they could ever have dreamed.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2000

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At War With Satan

Venom - At War With Satan ©1983 Combat
1. At War With Satan
2. Rip Ride
3. Genocide
4. Cry Wolf
5. Stand Up (and Be Counted)
6. Women, Leather and Hell
7. Aaaaaaarrghh

Say what you want about the influence Venom had on extreme metal, but the reality is this was really a very, very atrocious band. By their third release, At War With Satan, Venom was essentially demonstrating the cardinal mistake of taking themselves seriously and showing almost no real growth in their ability to play their instruments. This is, in a nutshell, a truly terrible record. One needs look no further than the twenty minute title track. Genesis, they ain't. In fact, their inability to show any sort of basic prowess at their instruments should mean they also lack the ability to pull off such an epic number. Their incompetence is painful to listen to. While a lot of young bands start out raw and develop some skill, Venom seemed firmly unable to grasp any sort of musical proficiency that even punk bands started by fifteen year old knuckledragging mouth breathers ultimately achieve.

This album is unbearably bad. It is a prime example of image trumping substance. Utter rubbish that deserves heaps of scorn. I cannot emphasize enough that no matter how "evil" their contrived image was, there's no excuse for releasing music this poorly constructed.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2009

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Venom - Possessed ©1985 Combat
1. Power Drive
2. Flytrap
3. Satanachrist
4. Burn This Place (To the Ground)
5. Harmony Dies
6. Possessed
7. Hellchild
8. Moonshine
9. Wing and a Prayer
10. Suffer Not the Children
11. Voyeur
12. Mystique
13. Too Loud (For the Crowd)

After bungling the sprawling, overly ambitious At War With Satan, Venom apparently chose to trim down song lengths and focus on songs a bit more within their musical and technical grasp for Possessed. This album would prove their reach and abilities were painfully limited and begs the question why they felt compelled to continue releasing music (a mystery that endures to this day, since this band simply won't go away). Poorly produced and featuring a distinct inability to write songs as well as play the dreadful rubbish they did come up with, Possessed is yet another glimpse into a comic book band who relied on imagery over substance.

While I've often been willing to accept the existence of Venom due to their influence on better bands (such as Bathory), it should be noted that by 1985, nearly every single band they inspired had surpassed them in every fathomable way. It's one thing to start out your career as youngsters just learning the craft, but you'd think four albums into a career, there'd be some progression in ability of some sort. Throwing in occasional references to "Satan" is not a foundation for a long lasting and meaningful musical existence. One gets the feeling Venom was counting on reputation alone to sell a few units of Possessed.

Welcome to Hell and Black Metal, based on influence alone, can justify their existence, even if one doesn't necessarily care for the music. However, by Possessed, Venom was guilty of standing around a deceased one trick pony, clubbing it over and over with their flying V guitars. This album is a monumentally dull and uninspired mess. No doubt Satan claims absolutely no affiliation with these British clowns. I often wish the members of Venom would have admitted they were doing a parody of metal, but sadly it appears they were taking themselves rather seriously.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2010

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Prime Evil

Venom - Prime Evil ©1989 Under One Flag
1. Prime Evil
2. Parasite
3. Blackened Are The Priests
4. Carnivorous
5. Skeletal Dance
6. Megalomania
7. Insane
8. Harder Than Ever
9. Into The Fire
10. Skool Daze

Incidentally, before you get too far into this review, it needs to be noted that this version of Venom is not the classic Venom whose metal parody act accidentally spurred an entire genre, first influencing bands such as Sodom, Celtic Frost, and Bathory, all of whom influenced today's current black and death metal scenes. This particular Venom actually sounds like they're taking themselves seriously, which may be a problem, depending on your point of view. Replacing singer Cronos with the ominous sounding The Demolition Man (who helpfully bursts through a brick wall on the back cover), Venom charges through this disc like a serious thundering heavy metal animal with little trace of the British cheese that their earlier work displays. The title tracks, "Blackened are the Priests", "Megalomania", and "Into the Fire" are all excellent exercises in heavy thrash. Surely many will reject this as an inferior product, but they're actually missing out on a good metal album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 07/1997

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The Book Of Armageddon (Best Of)

Venom - The Book Of Armageddon (Best Of) ©1992 Relativity
1. Witching Hour
2. Countess Bathory
3. Rip Ride
4. Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)
5. Teacher's Pet
6. Black Metal
7. Manitou
8. 1000 Days Of Sodom
9. Blood Lust
10. Buried

Easily one of the worst bands to ever wreak such dubious influence over two decades of metal, Venom is one band who you must consider the legacy and context before listening to the music. Frankly, the music is borderline awful to terrible. The Book of Armageddon (which served as Relativity's Book of Accounting as they put out several "best of" albums for many of the bands on the dying Combat label) compiles a handful of the older and most influential Venom tracks to remind and explain where much of today's black and death metal orginated. But for crying out loud, Venom was simply mediocre! Sigh. Well--check that--they were adorable doing it. Featuring all sorts of bad production, borderline musical incompetency by all three of the members, and of course Cronos' evil ranting, this whole collection is just goofy when heard in 1998. I suppose in the context of the early 80's, Venom was pushing an envelope or three. Fortunately, bands like Bathory and Celtic Frost took it to a new level and actually breathed fire into the beast.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 12/1998

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