Former members of black metal originators Venom reunite to create a brand new version of Hell.

The name Venom holds special reverence for many lovers of extreme metal for without them the genre may not be what it is today.  However, in 2017 there are two current versions of Venom and this is the Cronos-less version of the band. 

Those familiar with the recent trials and tribulations of progressive metal icons Queensryche will know more than they ever wished to about the delicate nature of bands and how from one iconic name can spawn several versions.  Fans of Eighties rockers Ratt also endured a similar scenario. 

Whilst it is tempting to refer back to the legends of “Welcome To Hell” and the genre-creating “Black Metal” era this is a very different beast and comparisons of the glories of yesteryear should be avoided and the album judged on its own merits. 

Venom Inc. features vocalist/bassist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, drummer Anthony “Abaddon” Bray and Heff “Mantas” Dunn”.  The new band formed by Mantas & Dolan, previously in M-Pire of Evil together, in 2014 who then recruited former Venom member Abaddon.  Originally the plan was just to play some live shows to celebrate the band’s legacy but eventually the connection and possibilities of the band were too big to ignore.  Three years on and this is their first album as Venom Inc. and it is fair to say that they are off to an absolute flier. 

The album opener with the mid-pace grind of “Ave Satanas”.  A bullish, controlled and lengthy introduction to their debut album which hints at an exciting future for the band that may see them established as a metal force in their revised identity. 

Bone rattling riffs and pounding drums, trademarks of the band, along with the rawness and spirit of those early days are still the order of the day.  Although the production is much sharper and cleaner than three decades ago. 

The legendary speed increases with track two “Forged In Hell” which is a track made for the live stage and thousands of rabid metalheads, horns in the air, praising the dark lord. 

“Metal We Bleed” takes the energy from the previous track and barrels forward without due care and attention into a maelstrom of fire and brimstone.  

Whether it’s the Germanic title or not but “Dein Fleisch” has a very Rammstein-esque vibe and groove to it.  No bad thing of course and a subtle change of pace from the previous two tracks is welcome, as is the punishing drama of it all. 

“Time To Die” employs a punk aesthetic that burns a hole through the middle of the album.  When followed-up by “The Evil Dead” then it is clear the trio are now in full flow and ready to obliterate all before them.  It’s not just all blood and thunder on the album though as tracks like “Preacher Man” and “I Kneel To No God” take a mid-paced approach to maximum intensity. 

Overall this is a far better album than we had any right to expect.  Vemon Inc mean business and business is looking very fine indeed. 

Avé is out now via Nuclear Blast and you would be wise to purchase a copy. 

Donnie’s Rating: 8.5/10

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