Thursday, February 06, 2014

Review: Venom - Welcome to Hell

This is where it officially all started, where Coven may have been the soil to fertilize the black metal style Venom are the roots that sprung from the well cultivated land. Originating in England in 1979, Venom have become a worldwide phenomenon over the vast years since Welcome to Hell first debuted in 1981; leading to the budding of many black metal artists to come and even acting as the branch for many sub-genres. Let's take a look at the birth of one of the most popular, and controversial, metal genres of all time.

Genre: NWOBHM, Black Metal, Speed Metal
Label: Neat Records
Release Date: December, 1981
  1. Sons of Satan
  2. Welcome to Hell
  3. Schizo
  4. Mayhem with Mercy
  5. Poison
  6. Live Like An Angel (Die Like a Devil)
  7. Witching Hour
  8. One Thousand Days in Sodom
  9. Angel Dust
  10. In League With Satan
  11. Red Light Fever
Total Playtime: 39 minutes, 45 seconds







Rating: 10/10







This is where it officially all started, where Coven may have been the soil to fertilize the black metal style Venom are the roots that sprung from the well cultivated land. Originating in England in 1979, Venom have become a worldwide phenomenon over the vast years since Welcome to Hell first debuted in 1981; leading to the budding of many black metal artists to come and even acting as the branch for many sub-genres. Let's take a look at the birth of one of the most popular, and controversial, metal genres of all time.

At the time of recording Venom were a three piece band; Cronos on bass and vocals, Mantas on guitar and Abaddon on drums. The band welded together a solid interfusion of the fast pace and simplicity of punk with the heaviness of the growing heavy metal culture that made up the mainstream of the 1970's and 1980's. What makes Welcome to Hell such a celebrated classic is the ease in which it attracts the listener with it's fuzzed-out catchy, twangy melodies combined with it's aggressive quality that still to this day finds few rivals standing in it's path. The album is unmistakable in sound as well as design; the Baphomet pentagram has come to be one of the most recognized sigils in metal and the black arts.

But what exactly makes this album such a paradigm in metal? At the time, Venom executed material that no one had ever attempted previously. The compositions are in-your-face, aggressive, dominating, fast as hell and completely relentless. After combining the two genres of punk and heavy metal they embedded the mark of the beast and all of its desires directly into their lyrics; death, fire, Satan, sex and drugs make up the themes of their debut landmark in extreme detail, including drinking the blood of newborns and slandering women with obscene names.


The rugged content is produced entirely in low-fi glory, giving a big middle finger to the overproduced sounds that were coming from the more well known bands at the time. The sheer fuzzy rawness of Welcome to Hell is another facet that keeps it so well loved to this day, another nostalgia ridden shred of timelessness that floats in the void of eternity. Cronos' bass is extremely audible throughout the totality of the recording, almost carrying the weight of it on his strings alone. The bass has a twangy southern charm to it, not unlike recent bands Orange Goblin and the like. Often the bass composure outshines the guitar, such as in "Poison" where the ear is drawn more to the walking bass line rather than the furious guitar solo that is happening right beside it; the same can be said for "Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)" and "A Thousand Days in Sodom".

The guitar is a muffled chaotic mess that riffs quick power chords and rips sleazy solos with reckless abandon. Riffs in songs such as "In League With Satan", "Welcome to Hell" and "Poison" are unforgettable and still make a lasting impression to this day, despite their simplistic nature. The drums are an intense experience into tight punk and rock rhythms that blast away remorselessly as the snare catches the most attention from the listener. When all three of these essentials are combined together they create a fluid, fast-paced explosion of crude and organic anarchy; all the while Cronos' voice is belting lyrics from hell, cracking under the weight of some such as in "Witching Hour".

Welcome to Hell is a monumental experience in black metal, leaving little to no desire unfulfilled. The content is brutal, candor, blasphemous and memorable; modesty in composure is the name of the game here and in giving such, Venom created a lasting impression on generations of metal enthusiasts to come. Despite the overall combative nature of the material, the band never forgot their classical inspiration and incorporated it into the acoustic instrumental "Mayhem with Mercy". Punk as fuck, black metal as all the legions of Hell command, Welcome to Hell is an album that will never be forgotten and must be heard by anyone who is into the genres at hand.

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