Venom might be the single most influential extreme metal band in existence. Their first two albums, Welcome to Hell and Black Metal, almost single-handedly defined the straightforward and blistering sound of the genre named after their sophomore effort, and they are still cited today as an important factor in the sound of modern extreme metal by an enormous legion of bands, over 35 years after they first came together. The sheer fact that they’re still around three-and-a-half decades later is an astonishing feat, let alone the fact that they’re releasing new music. And now, with their newest record, From the Very Depths, they aim to create their greatest album yet. Do they succeed?
Well, to put it altogether too simply, no. Nothing will ever capture the sheer youthful ferocity of Black Metal again, and try as hard as they might, it will always remain that Venom’s second album is their undisputed magnum opus. However, to present this statement in such an up-front way, no matter whether one agrees or not, isn’t nearly enough thinking to dissect the various ways that one must approach this album.
The problematic dichotomy of From the Very Depths is thus: on the one hand, from the view of a fan of classic Venom, this album is undisputedly among their best. Their approach is as fast-paced and furious as always, and the dual assault of the drums and guitar is as energizing and powerful now as it was in 1982. But, on the other hand, for somebody who has never really been into Venom, or is even on the fence about them, this is in no way going to bring them into the fold.
What Venom does well, they do very, very, well: they have spent many years now honing their attack to be as sharp as possible, cramming every track full of savage vocals, shrieking guitars, and blasting drumbeats. And they stay true to form on this record. Songs like ‘Mephistopheles‘ and title track ‘From The Very Depths‘ are tight, precise, and crush your head with their earworm riffs. The only track to really stand apart from the crowd is ‘Smoke‘—here, they pause to take a break, if only momentarily, and it’s incredibly rewarding. Rage’s nu-metal-style chugging riffs and Cronos’s slower droning vocals on this track work together to create a different atmosphere from the rest of the album, and this track is definitely one of the best on the album because of it. The songs on From The Very Depths are repetitive, but it’s not a huge issue—the riffs are good and easily listenable. The choruses are catchy and the lyrics, while not anything out of the ordinary, are delivered in the usual Venom snarl/growl. Nothing sounds out of place here. This is a Venom album, tried and true.
But, for those who are not fans of the trademarked Venom sound, this album will do absolutely nothing to win them over. Venom found a musical niche 35 years ago and they’ve been solidly occupying it ever since. Their dedication to sounding the same across all of time is matched only by Motorhead. Their incredibly simplistic intro-verse-chorus-verse-solo-chorus-outro approach used across every song gets old quickly for those hungering for something new, and it can be near impossible to sit through an album where every song follows this singular pattern like clockwork.
Anyone who isn’t a fan of Venom is going to find nothing of note in this album; those who have listened and decided that this band isn’t worth their time are not going to have their opinions reversed by this album. That being said, however, for those who know and love Venom, this album knocks it out of the park. Every track on this album is a great addition to their already-expansive catalogue, even if it offers nothing new or different. With From the Very Depths, Venom has once again released onto the world an album packed full of their signature sound- whether this is positive or negative depends entirely on the listener.
Venom’s From the Very Depths gets…