Venom Inc. - Ave,
When I first received this album, I looked at the logo, then at the name of the band, and wondered what was going on. A small bit of research later (okay, I read the press release) and I discovered that what I had here was a “new” band, featuring the 1989 - 1992 Venom line-up, namely guitarist Jeff "Mantas" Dunn, vocalist/bassist Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan and drummer Anthony "Abaddon" Bray. Venom Inc. was born by accident on April 24th, 2015 at the annual Keep It True Festival in Lauda-Königshofen, Germany. Mantas and Dolan were focused on M:PIRE OF EVIL, having invested years' worth of blood, sweat and tears in recording and touring to keep the band alive. An offer to play Keep It True was accompanied by a request to have Abaddon - who would be in attendance - to join the band during the set to perform some Venom classics as a treat for the fans. Mantas and Abaddon hadn't spoken in almost two decades, leaving Dolan to try and make the epic reunion a reality. Dolan: "I called Abaddon about it and he said 'yes.' I asked Mantas and he said, “fuck off” (laughs). It was something that was meant to be done in fun, and eventually Mantas agreed to it. We played our set, finished off with “Countess Bathory”, and everyone went nuts. We went off stage, came back on with Abaddon and played four or five Venom songs under the Venom Inc. name and the place went crazy." But, they had accidentally created a name for themselves and agents wanted to book Venom Inc., so after talking about it the guys decided to go for it, and signed with Nuclear Blast with ‘Avé’ being the debut.
Now, I have always had a soft spot for Venom, as I am of an age where I was buying pretty much everything coming out on Neat Records and followed the NWOBHM diligently, and Venom were one of those who were creating quite a noise, and a name for themselves. Through the years, I have purchased most of their albums, and they have been a little hit and miss, as when they are on form they are incredible, but there are times when they’re not. But, here we have two of the three original members, so this is a valid-line-up even without the “Inc.”, and they have produced one of the most listenable and downright enjoyable Venom albums ever! There is a certain amount of tongue in cheek here, and that gives the music and lyrics a lift away from the sheer blackness. Musically we have classic Venom crossed with Motörhead with Testament and and Cryptopsy and boy is this fun. Songs such as “Metal We Bleed” took me back to the old Manowar days, and I discovered I was smiling while reaching for the volume control to check I had it on max.
But, the highlight for me must be the closer “Black ‘n’ Roll” which made up of classic metal titles through the years, how many can you recognise? This is a stunning album, nothing more and definitely nothing less.