Last year we reviewed the solid new album from Venom Inc., Avé. While not the greatest album, it was a solid and rewarding slab of metal. Now we have the latest release from Venom itself, Storm the Gates. Let’s see how it stacks up, both in the Venom catalog and against its rival album.
First, for those not in the know, the lone holdover in Venom is bassist/vocalist Cronos. Venom Inc. is where Abaddon and Mantas flaunt their wares. Joining Cronos here are Dante on drums and Rage on guitar, as was the case on their past two albums.
Here on Storm the Gates, Cronos’ intentions are obvious from the beginning. He produced this album, and in doing so made it clear that he is going for the raw, uncooked, old-school sound Venom were famous for back in the 1980s. On that front, he succeeds: Storm the Gates is a visceral slab of proto-thrash that not many bands would have the guts to record.
“Bring Out Your Dead” kicks things off with a lurching awkwardness, an evil riff, and Cronos’ trademark growl-although here he rolls many of his “R’s.” It is a loud, sloppy, exuberant song, as is the second cut, “Notorious.” The Venom charm level is at 10 here, sounding as if the band recorded these songs in one fast, booze-filled take.
Highlights include “Dark Night (of the Soul),” full of howls, groans, and punk-rock lyrics, and “100 Miles to Hell,” which features a mid-paced riff and plenty of double-kick drumming.
While Venom have been around for nearly forty years, they haven’t slowed down too much, and they show the young ones how to blast on proto-speed metal numbers like “Over My Dead Body,” which has some amazingly fast riffage throughout, and “The Mighty Have Fallen,” which is the nastiest cut on the album.
Unfortunately, Cronos and mates can’t hold up this torrid pace forever, and with a mind-numbing thirteen tracks on Storm the Gates, momentum dwindles rapidly. Four or five songs could easily be cut from this album and it would be stronger for it.
With that in mind, Venom have delivered a mixed bag of treats with Storm the Gates. On the one hand, there are a half-dozen vintage Venom tracks here that fans of the band will love, but there are just as many songs that we end up skipping over. There are only a few bands that can write thirteen great songs, and Venom aren’t one of them.
Still, there’s no denying Cronos’ impact on metal, from laying down the foundation of black metal to inspiring new up-and-comers such as Hexripper and more. I’ll take Venom Inc.’s latest over this, but there’s still some fun stuff on Storm the Gates that Venom fans will love.
(released December 14, 2018 on Spinefarm Records)
Heavy Music Headquarters Rating:
Listen To Venom – “Bring Out Your Dead”