When it comes to bands acknowledging their past, it varies all over the place. There are groups like Metallica, who proudly embrace their early records, and then there are others like Pantera, who liked the public to believe that Cowboys From Hell was their debut album and not Metal Magic. Venom Prison have gone the re-recording route with their first two EPs, Defy The Tyrant and The Primal Chaos, packaging them with two new songs as Primeval.
It’s an interesting decision, considering that those two EPs are still available to download on their Bandcamp page for a pound (or about $1.30 US as of this writing). Now, they’ve never had much of a physical release (The Primal Chaos had a limited vinyl pressing upon its release in 2015), so getting these songs on a CD is a nice treat for those who still prefer that medium. Also, they were basically glorified demos when they were recorded, so they now have better technology and production behind them.
The track listing doesn’t mess with the ordering of these songs, having those from The Primal Chaos come directly after the ones from Defy The Tyrant. This structuring affords the listener the chance to hear how the group began to transition their hardcore/death metal sound further into the latter style. Putting any songs off their latest album, Samsara, side-by-side with rambunctious two-minute cuts like “Narcotic” and “Usurper Of The Throne” will show the significant progression from their formative roots.
It’s cool to have these songs given new life, especially those that provide a glimpse into what would become Venom Prison’s current sound. Something like the guitar solo that rises from the inferno on “Daemon Vulgaris” or the demonic roars on “The Primal Chaos” are things we hear the band doing now, and it’s important as music fans to know where the bands we enjoy started from in order to understand how they got to where they are today.
The grab for some will not be with the reworkings of this older material, but the new songs that come at the end. The band has stated that “Defiant To The Will Of God” and “Slayer Of Holofernes” may give an idea of what the future holds for them. They don’t step too far away from what Samsara did, though the usage of tasteful melodic vocals in both are a development that could be interesting if they go more into it like Svalbard did on When I Die, Will I Get Better?
Primeval lets some of the first songs Venom Prison ever wrote a chance to be unleashed on a new audience that has come onboard. It’s only been five years since these songs were put out, but someone unaware could hear Primeval and think it’s a new Venom Prison album. With a few new songs, the group adds just enough value to the collection to pull in the fan base, whether they’ve been around since the very beginning or are recent followers.
(released October 9, 2020 on Prosthetic Records)
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Watch Venom Prison – “Daemon Vulgaris” Video