Venom Inc. “Avé” by Adam McCann
Nuclear Blast Records 2017
Welcome to Hell, Again
Unfortunately, we live in a time where ex-friends and former band mates can no longer reconcile and put aside their differences. When this occurs, we often see splinter bands forming, the most famous of which being Oliver/Dawson Saxon, Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash and now Venom Inc. The legality of the Venom name is locked safely away in the Necronomicon of Cronos who continues to release albums under the Venom moniker. However, more recently, former members of Venom guitarist and drummer Abaddon and Mantas have joined forces with former Venom frontman Demolition Man, who briefly fronted Venom from 1989-1992 and are attempting to keep the Venom name alive through the name Venom Inc.
Although in essence, Venom Inc. have been knocking around since 2015, this year has seen the band step out of the shadow of basically a glorified tribute band and into the limelight in their own right with their first studio album ‘Avé’, released through Nuclear Blast Records.
Beginning with the fantastic ‘Avé Satanas’, the first minute of which is dedicated to the haunting classical piece ‘Ave Maria’, before the tsunami of distortion and devilish tones swamp the gates of Heaven; Welcome to Hell indeed. ‘Avé Satanas’ is an eight minute behemoth, a grinding slab that serves to remind us what Abaddon and Mantas are capable of as Demolition Man slides perfectly back into his old role. With the ‘Prime Evil’ line-up reunited, it doesn’t take long to remind us that this line-up was pretty good with ‘Avé’ sounding more like Venom than well, Venom.
The wall of sound committing assault and battery continues through ‘Avé’ with tracks like ‘Dien Fleisch’, ‘Forged In Hell’ and ‘Metal We Bleed’ being some of the best work by any Venom members in the past 30 years. These songs contain the continuous pounding double bass drum of Abaddon coupled with the Lemmy style bass of Demolition Man, however, it is the fantastic guitar playing of Mantas which shines through with ‘Avé’ proving, if any evidence was needed, that Mantas is one of heavy metal’s most underrated guitarists. When looking at this, it shows that ‘Avé’ has no signs of the aging, jaded rock stars who cut their teeth with the NWOBHM movement going through the motions and it drags the Venom sound kicking and screaming with demonic filth into 2017 whilst being wholly representative of the classic sound Venom represent.
However, when you compare ‘Avé’ to the classic Venom releases of ‘Welcome to Hell’ and ‘Black Metal’, ‘Avé’ is just too damned long, the second half of the album degenerates into a lot of mediocre filler with ‘The Evil Dead’ sounding more like a rehash of ‘Raise the Dead’, whilst ‘Black N’ Roll’ sounds more like Venom Inc. taking the piss by providing a clichéd reference to other rock and heavy metal albums throughout its history and even goes as far allusion to famous British paedophile Jimmy Saville at the end. All this aside, there are some diamonds in the rough amongst the filler, ‘War’ and ‘I Kneel To No God’ help to keep your attention and easily keep the latter end of the album alive.
No matter which way you look at ‘Avé’, there are some fantastic songs here which stay true to the Venom mantra. Demolition Man does a brilliant job by not giving a straight up imitation of Cronos, but rather, Demolition Man puts his own twist back into the Venom mythology. In fact, ‘Avé’ sounds more like Venom than ‘From the Very Depths’; the last Venom album and if you’re expecting a pale imitation of Venom, then you will not find it here. (76/100)
Adam McCann / MHF Magazine