Venom – “Storm The Gates” (Spinefarm Records)
Battle Helm Rating
What with the unstoppable rise of Venom Inc containing Mantas and Abaddon, I did spare a thought about what might be going with Cronos and his own gang. Well, this 15th album answers it all – and with full force too I might add! Cronos, Rage and Dante have certainly been busy over the last 2 years and judging by the impressive compositions and tight performances, Rage and Dante have found their place in this legendary band that not only goes back to 1979, but became the influence in creating a metal genre of its own! “Storm The Gates” reflects a view that while acknowledging the glory days of “Welcome To Hell” and “Black Metal” by playing songs from those albums as close their originals, isn’t content to dwell in that era when it comes to its future, preferring instead to evolve it although not modernising it into modern (Scandinavian) black metal. It’s certainly a very bold move, allowing Venom to stand in a league of their own and the 13 songs here do exactly that, being certainly dark and evil, but not overtly satanic, definitely reflecting a maturity to match the technical proficiency of this new trio. From ‘I, Dark Lord’ with its double bass drumming mixed with flanger guitar going from mid tempo pace to headbandingly heavy and even a trippy section, Cronos’s trademark drawls adds all the ugliness you need to the singalong chorus while ‘Dark Night’ soon had me thinking of ‘Teachers Pet’ with its power groove and rock n roll element providing Cronos with ample opportunity to cuss all over it! More than just a backing back, there’s plenty of room for Rage’s exotic guitar work, be it in his solos or melodies to shine of their own accord, while Dante’s technical work is constant, be it overt or subtle in fleshing out the sound with quality in addition to the obvious heaviness. With the other trademark sound of Cronos’s heavy, rumbling bass booming all over ‘We The Loud’ it was definitely back to the old school in being more speed metal with a punky edge just as I used to remember it when I first slapped on “Black Metal” back in ’82. However, the real potential of this line up is no better exemplified than on ‘Destroyer’, a brooding mutha of a track, with Cronos’s slow drawl complemented by Dante’s evil cymbal taps creeping over you menacingly before Rage’s screaming and wailing guitar adds a fiery mid piece before smouldering back to its original moodiness. Highly impressive, “Storm The Gates” is a high quality release befitting Crono’s legacy and his view that this isn’t black metal, but Venom metal!