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I loved Venom's first two albums, haven't yet gotten my hands on At War With Satan, but found that Possessed was a bit sloppy and drawn out. I wondered what Venom would sound like with two guitar players, replacing the mighty Mantas.
I can't say that this sounds like Disney. This is not so out there that it could be labeled as a different band, because we've still got the necessary Venom ingredients all in the mix. Possibly a bit experimental, but not bad in that way. The songs seem a bit more concise, but sadly, also more geared towards commercialism: they're shorter, with obvious hooks. Just listen to "Chanting of the Priests," with its cleaner vocals...not really Venom, is it? "Under A Spell" is similar, with a sing along chorus. Quite goofy. Sometimes those clean vocals sound really irritating and obnoxious, but overall, don't destroy the album.
So what does really put it under the table? The songs are pretty short and predictable. Even worse, there's not a lot that really jumps out and grabs you. I would have actually enjoyed more experimentation, but a lot of the ideas just feel bland and tired. The second half of the album can sometimes just pass me by.
But there are some great moments. The title track, though a bit unorthodox with its epic and often melodic sound, is fucking great. Seriously, one can imagine a storm brewing at the horizon while listening to that. "Black Xmas" is heavy, total Venom, and "Metal Punk" actually feels heavier than you'd think.
The production is rough, and as I've said, there are fuck ups here and there. But this is Venom. The two new guitarists provide some very nice, over the top soloing, that gives it a slicker sound, but not without the nastiness brewing beneath the surface. Worth getting if you're a big fan, but a casual listener best pick up Welcome To Hell or Black Metal.