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Let me start this review by saying that I am a hardcore Venom fan. Fucking HARDCORE. Venom has long been my second-favorite band, second only to Black Sabbath, and I’ve followed the band over the years through all the ups and downs, alt-rock trends (Fuck the nineties. Kurt Cobain blows goats in Hell.), lineup changes and reunions, and noticed the general indifference of the mainstream and many who claim to be metal fans. I was there before the classic lineup originally fractured, and I know this band’s music back to forward. The positive influence Venom’s music has had on my life and my own music cannot be understated. In truth, Venom has damned my soul, and I love it!
There seems to be a perception among some so-called fans that Venom released a couple of classic albums and then did naught worth shit after that, or that “without so-and-so in the band, it ain’t Venom.” These people are welcomed to their narrow-minded opinions, just as they are welcomed to go screw themselves. Venom has in all its many incarnations never released an album which sucked (I respect Tony Dolan and enjoy his work with the band), although the critically-panned Calm before the Storm might be an easy target due to its somewhat more traditional metal direction. Fallen Angels will stand for many devout followers as the strongest album of the recent trinity of albums, being Metal Black, Hell and now, Fallen Angels.
The album starts off in aggressive fashion with “Hammerhead,” a track which could be a tribute to all loyal fans which have followed the band for thirty years. “Nemesis” is pure thrash mayhem, and on “Pedal to the Metal” the band puts it to the floor. Let it be known that there are no weak tracks on this album. After several grinding, mid-paced tracks including “Lap of the Gods,” “Damnation of Souls” and Beggarman, “The band then pull out all the stops for “Hail Satanas,” likely my favorite song on the album, featuring a killer guitar riff and pounding drums. Guitarist Rage, no longer the new boy, makes the role his own, playing rhythms and scorching lead solos which perfectly fit the style of Venom yet never appear as a rip-off of a certain former Venom guitarist, and over the course of the album new drummer Dante shows that he means business, nestling comfortably into the percussive Venom drumming style as if he’s been there from the beginning. Finally, a real drummer, rather than a guitarist playing drums, as seems was Cronos’ brother, Antton, who a while back left the band to focus on other projects.
The second half of the album relaxes for not one second. “Punk’s Not Dead” may be an odd song title for a metal band, but from a historical perspective Venom swallowed the punk ethic of speed, aggression and attitude and then puked it back up, forming the monster that is Black Metal. Cronos’ trademark bass tone and sliding notes are noticeably present, and on the title track the mainman takes the lead, ripping out a Geezer Butler-esque intro on the 4-string. Other strong tracks include “Valley of the Kings” (reminiscent of the Dolan-era track “Cursed’), the thought-provoking bonus track “Annunaki Legacy,” which focuses on the Sumerian myth of extraterrestrials who created humans as a slave race, and “Death be Thy Name.” Seeming to revisit the topic of death incarnate as heard on “Old Man Death” from the Metal Black album, if you’ve never been afraid to die, then this track is sure to change your mind. There’s even a bit of acoustic guitar on “Lest We Forget,” a nice but somber guitar instrumental, which will remind longtime fans of melodic tracks such as “Mayhem with Mercy” from the classic Welcome to Hell album.
If you truly understand that heavy metal is, was and will always be the devil’s music, then you can’t go wrong with Fallen Angels. The album is heavy as fuck and blows the living shit out of most of what tries to pass for metal these days. If you’re disgusted by former death metal legends turned metalcore sellouts, if the latest Morbid Angel album of retarded noisy toilet-bowl experimentation makes you want to squirt diarrhea shits into the baptismal pool at the Vatican, then Venom is your best bet for raw and evil music dedicated to the Lord of Darkness. His Satanic Majesty sits proud, and thirty years into the game Venom still play metal fucking loud. I’m giving Fallen Angels a 100, because I fucking can. If you get what this band is about, if the philosophy behind the madness that is Venom resonates within your soul, I salute you. If you don’t like Venom, go suck a dick. You are truly worthless.