Venom Inc. – “Avé” (Nuclear Blast)
Wot a steamroller! Formed from the legendary Venom by guitarist Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn and Atomkraft bassist Tony ‘Demolition Man’ and of late, joined by Venom’s drummer Tony ‘Abaddon’ Bray, the trio have a made a miraculous leap that began with a chance reunion at the Keep It True Festival. Since then its been a veritable tidal wave of shows across the globe playing to rabid fans hungry to hear Venom’s songs, especially with Crono’s Venom very much on the quiet side. With legendary Jonny Z (the band’s first US promoter back in the day) pressing the new line up for new material, all the impetus was there for this album – and man, it doesn’t disappoint! Despite Dunn and Bray being in the mid 50s, I can’t believe how fierce this album is – it’s simply raging at all levels – but amazingly, has plenty of technical prowess especially in Dunn’s guitar work – not to mention the massive sound that he himself engineered and produced, with the band being so tight that many of the songs were recorded as one hit takes!! If that wasn’t enough, the songs themselves are built to destroy and easily rival anything on the apocalyptic levels of carnage wrought by the likes of Destruction, Sodom and Kreator. It all adds up to one mean mutha of an album and while in their early history they were ridiculed for their lack of musicianship (something that particularly riled Dunn) I’d dare any of those critics to now state the same here as “Avé” has it all easily making it one of the top heavy metal releases this year and even capable of giving the younger bands a run for their money. As an old fan of the band it would seem that most of the material has a ‘Welcome To Hell’ inspiration but it’s by no means retro, but rather what Venom might have evolved into had things not gone astray over the years. Equally, the band have long moved on from being evil and penning jack n jill lyrics, as songs like ‘Preacher Man’ with its hammering drums and heavy power groove propelled by Dolan’s deep bass would attest, not to mention ‘Black N Roll’ which definitively answers the question of what happens when you cross Motorhead and Venom! Tony Dolan’s ugly, roaring vocals have plenty of attitude to match the bunches of aggression steaming out’ve Abaddon’s double bass drums on ‘Metal We Bleed’ and when they do return to the darkness on the hammer smashing ‘Forged In Hell’, it’s done with added class in the catchy riffs, intelligent rhyming lyrics and a singalong chorus – truly impressive and a massive boost in respect for these haway lads. “Avé” is one demon of an album while exorcising plenty of historical ones in the past!