CD Review: “Storm The Gates” by Venom

The devil’s favorite metal trio from Newcastle returns with its fifteennth studio album, Storm The Gates. “Bring Out Your Dead” opens the record and is the initial single. It is a straight forward track with a stomping groove and a plodding guitar riff. Cronos’s signature raspy vocals are in diabolic effect and guitarist Rage throws out a chaotic lead to top it off.

“The Dark Lord” shifts between a dissonant, dreary psychedelic riff and a grinding mid-tempo riff. Venom proves it is capable of writing strong material and this is a top track. The crunching “100 Miles To Hell” commences with a simple guitar riff before the drums kick in to high gear. It is a no frills headbanging track. The ax swinging riffs on “Destroyer” complement drummer Dante’s slow galloping beat while Cronos sings during the fills about demons and the apocalypse.

Things speed up on “The Might Have Fallen” as Dante’s relentless drumming surprisingly does not let up. Rage’s buzzsaw riffing is primal black metal and reaffirms Venom as the fathers of the sub-genre. The title track concludes the album with a sloppy punk edge mingled with NWOBHM guitar riffs, as it should end.

Venom were notorious for playing bad and lacking the musical prowess of its contemporaries. This is unfair, as the band can certainly play complex music, which is evident on tracks “The Dark Lord” and “Immortal.” However, this is black metal, which is devoid of the pretentious pomp found in other metal sub-genres. Storm The Gates is straight forward, Satanic metal with a fusion of punk for good measure. Some tracks are a little weak, but the overall product is Venom.

Fans of Venom will enjoy Storm The Gates with its 13 tracks of unfettered, diabolical fun. However, if you never liked Venom, this record will not change your mind. Folks new to black metal should check this record out to understand its origins. Venom stormed the gates and were victorious.

Check out the band’s official website here:

http://www.venomslegions.com/

CD Review: ‘ExtermiNation’ by Raven

You cannot keep a good metal band down. Raven had a fairly strong following during the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. The group’s influence was so great that Metallica opened for the group in 1983. The latter subsequently eclipsed Raven in both influence and popularity, however Raven continues to tour and release music. The band’s 13th release, ExtermiNation, is a fun record that encapsulates the good times of early Eighties metal. The opening track “Destroy All Monsters” features the intricate riffs and punk drumming from the NWOBHM era. It is a no frills headbanger with a sci-fi twist. The track “Tomorrow” is a driving mid-tempo tune with crunching, guttural riffs. It is easily one of the best songs on the record. The self-tribute of “Fight” is an homage to the band, heavy metal and life on the road. The band certainly deserves a pat on the back for enduring for over 40 years. Then there is the uncompromising “Battle March Tank Treads.” The aggressive riffs and double bass advance like a battalion, laying waste to all in sight.

The production on this record is solid. ExtermiNation is not overproduced and retains a vintage sound without sounding cheesy. The adage “keep it simple” is in full effect as the instruments do not drown each other. The energy of the band is loud and clear, making the album all the more enjoyable. The sole issue I have with ExtermiNation is the length. The album features 14 songs (15 including the bonus track), which can cause the record to drag. I commend the band for giving fans their money’s worth, however the record would still rock with 10 or 11 tracks.

ExtermiNation is a fun metal record with all the conventions that made the NWOBHM so exciting. The band has not lost its step in 41 years and continues to pump out hard hitting tunes. Highly recommended for anyone that just wants to rock.