When it comes to classic trailblazers, true pioneers of a genre, the pool is small and the company few. Venom sit comfortably in the middle having inspired the mighty Metallica, Slayer and, of course, the majority of heavy Scandinavian metal. Last year was the band’s silver jubilee and the only member left is singer and guitarist Cronos. Yes, it’s probably his fault there are so many laughable names around the pantomime world of black metal. Completed by ex-Carcass guitarist Mykvs *and *Antton, Cronos’ brother, on drums, the Geordies are definitely harking well back to the old school with this, their first new material in over five years.
Cronos was last seen opening up Dave Grohl’s 2003 metal collaboration, Probot, and it was clear then that time had not taken its toll on him. The album title is a clear reference to what they started in 1980 with their celebrated second album, Black Metal _and fittingly this record seems to have a sense of regression about it. All the songs are simple, almost to the point of being crude, in both lyrics and titles. An example of this found in standout track, _‘Burn In Hell’, where the same lines are merely reiterated over and again. This is a common theme, so clearly they are relying on straightforward, uncomplicated repetition to hammer their point home. That’s if it wasn’t clear enough from the song title.
If this is a reaction to the current spate of thrash-styled, nu-school metal bands then there is no doubt that Venom have created a record which is more immediate, more direct and has lashings more credibility about it. There are no gimmicks here. There is no room for rapid-fired double bass drum here as an easy route to making the music sound heavy. It still sounds fast. It still sounds heavy. There are no screeched, falsetto vocals, just pained, throat-ripping growls and howls matched by constant and bludgeoning riffs. It still sounds angry. Oh my, does it sound angry.
Somehow, _‘Metal Black’ _seems like the best material* Venom *have produced for two decades. Their strategy here is to hit the listener hard and fast and they achieve it with ease. If they wanted to recapture their old form and then update it then they succeeded in making a record more current and more formidable than any of the young pretenders out there now.
9Raziq Rauf's Score