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Venomous - 68%

Felix 1666, December 22nd, 2016
Written based on this version: 2012, CD, Scarlet Records (Digipak)

...and the winner is: M-pire of Evil! Congratulations! But wait a moment, what have they won? To be honest, it is just the dubious price for the crudest discography of all times. The guys started with an EP with four cover songs, their second full-length features not seven, not eight, but nine (!) Venom covers and the pieces of an earlier released 7". Nobody can deny that this is absolutely moronic, although or exactly because of the fact that each member of M-pire of Evil recorded a more (Mantas) or less (Antton) huge number of albums with the British black metal legend. Not to mention the irritating fact that they released a live album (of course only with already well-known tracks) without having a sufficient amount of material.

With that said, "Hell to the Holy" appears as the black sheep of the family. Or, probably closer to the truth, it is the white sheep of a black family. The full-length does not suffer from lame recycling while offering ten new tracks. Unfortunately, it also shows that M-pire of Evil had good reasons to perform thousands of cover versions instead of own compositions. This is annoying, because the band has the potential to write strong pieces. Okay, the title track has initial difficulties, because its overlong intro is completely superfluous. Nevertheless, as soon as the guitars set in, the ensemble dishes up a heavily stomping mid-tempo number. (In the distance, I hear Dan Beehler screaming "Pounding Metal".) A classic metal song with a black aura, powerful vocals and a compelling chorus. Too bad that this is the only track which is exciting (once again, greetings to Dan Beehler), if I do not take the first two songs into account. The double strike at the beginning unleashes a certain fury in view of the up-tempo approach of "Hellspawn" and "Metal Messiah", their strong guitar work and the coherent overall designs. These blackened thrashers prove evidence that the British trio can create something great as long as it bundles its strengths. Yet the guys prefer to take the path of least resistance and fill the album with pretty ordinary tracks instead of showing the intention to publish a killer album.

From this it follows that the album does not cause a massive impact, not only because of the fact that the slightly sticky production also fails to enthuse the listener. Non-transparent and sometimes unpleasantly noisy, the sound matches the status of M-pire of Evil. Both remain on a rather mediocre level. This status bothers me, because a long-player with more dynamic and blistering songs like the perfectly thrashing "Metal Messiah" would have become a jewel of my collection. But now I am listening to pieces such as "Devil", which begins, don't ask me why, with slide guitars. I did not know that Satan lives in Exodus' "Cajun Hell", yet every kind of hell seems to be better than none at all. But let's stay fair, "Devil" has some fine guitar leads. It is not on a par with the highlights of "Hell to the Holy", but it can trigger a little headbanging session. However, the band runs out of ideas the more the album progresses. The term half-baked fits better than any other word to describe the overall impression of this work. Decent but unspectacular tunes like "All Hail" or "Shockwave" just pass by without any interesting feature, as much as I regret it. Admittedly, the robust voice of the Demolition Man always has its charm, but this alone does not cure the uninspired compositions. Even "Snake Pit", whose musical pattern and lyrics intend to build a bridge to early Venom eruptions, cannot fully convince. Neither really funny nor chaotic, it appears as the crippled brother of songs such as "Poison" or "Teacher's Pet".

All in all, M-pire of Evil are tragic clowns who live in the past and stand in the shadow of Cronos. Instead of taking their fate into their own hands, the leading figures of the band have decided to remain at the novel string of Venom. They ignore the option that they could do it much better on their own. The result is a fairly good album, but it cannot compete with comparable outputs of their former band, for example "The Waste Lands" or "Prime Evil". Not to mention M-pire of Evil's crude discography.