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Satan is a pretty neat guy! - 95%

BlackMetal213, December 19th, 2016

It seems that more often than not, "Welcome to Hell" or "Black Metal" are described as the best Venom albums. They are no doubt influential and essential albums that paved the way for the genres of thrash and black metal, with the album "Black Metal" coining the name for the genre itself. It may not really MUSICALLY be black metal, but the lyrical aesthetics were certainly there. "At War with Satan", Venom's third album, is certainly an ambitious one. Venom was never really known for technical prowess but with this album, they took a huge leap ahead in songwriting and musical ideas.

The album is opened up with the title track. This song is almost 20 minutes long. This is a HUGE risk considering the band's previous emphasis on simplicity. Granted there are plenty of bands within certain genres of simple music that can drone out repetition for long songs and make them sound great, but Venom doesn't really fit in this category. I believe the band's longest song before this was "Red Light Fever" from "Welcome to Hell", and it was only slightly over 5 minutes in length. So, yes, this was something of a totally new concept for this band. And they managed to pull it off wonderfully. This song is perhaps the best the band has ever produced and pretty much makes up half of the album. There is a wide variety of riffs, ranging from doom riffs to fast, thrashy, punky riffs. The riffs don't sound too technical, no surprise there, but there are a lot of varying riffs that keep the song interesting. The clean acoustic segment shortly after the 13-minute mark is hauntingly beautiful and contrasts nicely from the aggressive riffs that tend to make up most of the song. Even through simplicity, this shows how Venom was able to still write really good songs through their earlier years, despite limitations.

So, the title track is the best song Venom has ever managed to write and really makes the album that much better, but are the other songs bad? No, not at all. "Rip Ride" is a classic Venom number that takes us back to the first two albums. Most of this stuff just sounds like a band having fun playing together. "Women, Leather and Hell" makes for a fun-paced party metal song. Well, sort of. It's not PARTY music obviously but it's certainly loads of evil fun. Speaking of fun, what is up with the last track? This was obviously recorded as a joke but it's fairly humorous. With a title of "Aaaaaaarrghh", you really wouldn't expect anything else. It's nice to see bands have humor. It's not really a song but rather just some drumming, random guitar stuff, and some screaming and yelling of obscenities and random stuff. It's stupid and unnecessary but still manages to be funny.

The production this time around is quite a step up from the previous two albums. Really, the only reason I keep comparing "At War with Satan" to "Welcome to Hell" and "Black Metal" is because I consider this trilogy of albums to be Venom's classic period of essential releases. Anything else, for me, is generally a hit or miss. Out of their current discography of 14 full-length albums, I tend to only really enjoy half. So, maybe around 6 or 7 albums, if that. But I digress. The production here is fairly clean but not polished to the point of the album losing its organic sound. The bass is turned up nicely in the mix and we can clearly hear it throughout. It gives the music a more meaty sound, combined with the guitars which are louder this time around, and the pummeling drums. If I had any complaint about the production, though, it would be that the drums are slightly too high in the mix. They aren't offending, though, so really, it doesn't take away from the music. The drums, like everything else, are simple in nature and suit the music well.

This is surely my favorite Venom album it holds up to the first two extremely well in my book. Its strong yet simple songwriting and boastful production really put it ahead of its predecessors and to date, Venom has not been able to top this album with following releases. Really, they haven't come close.

Defying all the Gods - 98%

Felix 1666, November 3rd, 2014
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, Neat Records

From my point of view, "At War with Satan" is a real cult album. It was the first Venom vinyl that I bought. This is certainly one reason why I have a specific relationship to this album. But I promise, the creative output itself delivers many other reasons to praise it in the highest terms. The crucial factor is that the British three-piece delivered an absolutely unique full-length. A bold claim? Well, as far as I can see, there was no blueprint for the gigantic title track. To be honest, this song still remains unrivaled.

It did not only use the entire range of the genre. It was much more than this: the title track redefined black metal once and for all. Everybody thought that this more or less one-dimensional genre was only fixed on pure chaos. But "At War with Satan" proved the opposite in the most impressive way. The song was very well thought out and enthused the listener with an overwhelming number of different parts. I suspect that it marked the result of a long compositional process. Just remember the fact that the opening riff had already been offered at the end of "Black Metal". In any case, it was a stirring experience to hear that the single parts blended seamlessly into each other without exception. That was by no means a matter of course, because Venom pulled out all the stops. They presented chaotic high speed eruptions, spoken parts, atmospheric intermezzos and, to top it all off, a kind of vocal solo by Cronos. I personally have to admit that it took some time before I understood what had happened. This was almost too much for a good thing. Already the first riffs of this titan were of such top quality that I would have enjoyed to listen to them for twenty minutes without interruption. But as said above, Venom had much more to showcase so that these riffs only showed up again at the end in order to close the circle and to indicate that the war between good and evil - this was the subject of the extensive lyrics - will continue forever.

After this high sophisticated black metal ecstasy, the B side had a hard situation. (Honestly, I was at risk to forget the B side because of the monumental title track...) Five more or less usual songs and the nonsensical final number could naturally not compete with the masterpiece of the A side. It overshadowed everything else. Nevertheless, I am talking about five very strong pieces. Venom had refined its compositions while following a slightly more melodic approach. But this new orientation was not accompanied by a loss of harshness. The album just sounded a bit less chaotic due to smoothly flowing tracks such as "Cry Wolf". Mid-tempo was dominating, but Venom had never only focused on high speed rhythms. On an overall basis, the B side tunes scored with a well balanced mix of chaos and melody, pounding metal parts and high velocity passages. The main function of "Aaaaaaarrghh" (hopefully, I did not forget an "a") was to complete the album. It is absolutely rubbish, but it belongs to this outstanding full-length and proved the band´s self-mocking sense of humour. I think that´s the reason why I like it in a certain way. However, in my humble opinion, "Cry Wolf" and "Stand Up (and Be Counted)" formed the highlights of the B side.

Due to its solid and adequate production, the revolutionary album sounded neither amateurish nor polished. This constituted a clear improvement after the rather dull and hollow sound of the first albums. The rattling drums of Abaddon were probably not to everyone´s taste, but their sound matched properly with the chaotic image of the band. Apart from that, the stylish cover design of the gatefold album was remarkable, not least because of the fact that the band quoted Shakespeare on the back cover. In the end, "At War with Satan" was not only the best effort of the magical original line-up. At the same time, the full-length marked its last work that was fully convincing. This might be an other reason, why I still have a special relationship to this outstanding masterpiece.

At War With Satan - 86%

Noctir, April 11th, 2009

In March 1983, less than six months after the release of Black Metal, Venom released their third L.P. At War With Satan. Concept albums are like holes in the ceiling; however much you might hate what they represent, nonetheless they exist. They have to be dealt with and, occasionally, a band manages to come up with something so worthwhile they actually transcend the usual indulgent nonsense that defines the concept. Venom pulled off this, somewhat, unexpected triumph in 1983, when they unleashed At War With Satan on the eager public.

Actually, to call it a concept album is a little misleading. In actuality, the concept was firmly established in the title track alone, being somewhat of a sprawling epic that took up the whole first side of the album. It was a real risk for the trio of Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon. For the first (and last) time they stretched out allowing their imaginations to run riot on tape. The result was emphatic, hellish and violent, yet also somewhat complex. It was a departure for a band that was, up to this point, renowned for their method of full-on attack. At the time, producer Keith Nichol caught some grief for, maybe, not giving it a production job that would raise it above the rest of the albums coming out that year. However, it was actually an improvement on Venom's sound.

"At War With Satan" is an epic metal masterpiece of hellish proportions, a gore-soaked take of war between demons and angels. From the thunderous intro and gritty thrash riffs that intriduce the song, the feeling of tension begins to build. The frist scream emitted from the lungs of Cronos is like a murderous release. This is absolutely the most ambitious work ever composed by this blasphemous band. The lyrics could not be any more perfect and read like a fantastic story:

"The warriors gather slowly around
The sacred city, Hell
Satan screams a vengance
On the land as the angels fell"

The atmosphere of the song becomes even more hellish and dark as things slow down and Cronos screams in demonic fury:

"Lucifer's demonic laughter
Assist our quest, Belial prays
Free from Hell who serves the master
Sound the charge on Sabbaths day"

The song speeds up to a chaotic pace for some time, yet there is a definite structure present here that shows a band that has matured (to some degree) since Welcome To Hell. Cronos sounds absolutely possessed here and his bass is filled with doom and plague. As the song progresses, the fury of Hell is unleashed as Cronos screams, "Take to the skies!" The guitars are thrashy and unrestrained, yet with focus and determination toward a single goal: total and complete destruction. There are so many changes in riff and tempo that the song truly feels like a lengthy journey through the mists of the past. Venom really put everything that they had into this epic song and it shows. Sadly, there are a couple of brief moments where it seems like a riff is building and then never quite gets unleashed in the most satisfying way, but this is a minor concern for something so monstrous. The melodies and solos near the middle, right before the evil spoken word part, really show the NWOBHM sound at its finest, as much as Venom may have wanted to deconstruct this style. After about thirteen minutes, things get very quiet and eerie, leaving only an acoustic guitar and a bit of somber wailing in the distance before the guitars return to crush and kill all signs of life... as if, on a miserable journey through desolate wastelands, a sign of hidden beauty was found in the middle of this emptiness... You see something strange and foreign, so you gaze upon it with curiosity for a few brief moments before determining that it is utterly useless and stamping it out forever. Life, light and beauty have no place here. As the song continues, the instruments seem to be emitting random sounds as they burn at the fiery depths, while Cronos, demonically, tells the grim tale and a funeral bell chimes in the background. This is the culmination of the darkness and evil that Venom wished to convey and it is something that really has to be heard to be understood. No mere review could ever do this justice as this isn't just something to listen to; rather, it must be experienced. It cannot be unheard and the subconscious changes can never be undone.

After this epic monstrosity, there is little room to regain one's wits before "Rip Ride" tears into you. Yes, after that lengthy journey, there is still more. The second side of the album is more in keeping with what one might expect from Venom: six cuts that go for maximum impact, offering subtlety as hostage to ferocity. This song thrashes at full speed and never lets up. With wicked solos, hellish screams and great fucking riffs this piece is worthy (if anything could be) to follow up the previous song. Just when you'd imagine the band would have run out of energy, they are here to proclaim:

"Our evil always will reign"

"Genocide" rages from the pits of Hell at a bit more of a relaxed pace than the previous song, though still possessing enough lethal energy to slice your throat wide open. The refrain is very catchy and the riffs still possess a bit of epic feeling in them. It's almost difficult to believe that, just mere months after releasing the classic Black Metal, Venom still had so much creativity boiling over.

The next song is "Cry Wolf", beginning in a very strange manner for this trio. This is a good example of how the band managed to mature while maintaining their edge. This tale of lycanthropy is the longest song on the second side and features classic reference to "The Wolf Man". After another wicked guitar solo it sounds as if Cronos is making the transformation from man to wolf, on tape. The chorus isn't the greatest, but it's so brief that it really takes nothing away from the song.

"Stand Up (and Be Counted" begins with the feeling of doom in the bass-heavy riffs and in the great lyrics. The title of the song is kind of stupid and there is somewhat of a less serious feeling in the vocal delivery, but this song still features some good mid-paced thrash riffs that have enough of a dark feeling to be worthy of being on this record.

"Women, Leather and Hell" begins with a chaotic outburst. This picks the pace back up and rages along with violence and disregard. While not being as ridiculous, this song seems to follow along with "Teacher's Pet" and "Red Light Fever" in being more about useless topics rather than conveying any real sense of dread. There are still enough killer solos and riffs to keep you interested, though nothing will quite compare with Side A.

The last song isn't much of a song at all. "Aaaaaaarrghh" is pure chaos and nonsense, all at once. This might be interesting to hear once, but it loses its appeal after that first listen. It's just a couple minutes of random riffs, screaming and cursing. This probably represents what those on the outside think heavy metal sounds like. This shows a band that has run out of steam. After the epic title track, any band would have the right to be exhausted and somewhat hysterical, especially after following that with several more songs.

At War With Satan has largely been regarded as the moment when Venom should have cemented their place atop the throne, yet something seemed to be missing. There was the general impression among critics that it could have been so much more than it was - on all fronts. The band came very close to making a massive leap forward but didn't quite pull it off. It could be that the last couple of songs left a bad taste in their mouths and left people with a poor impression after the album had begun in such a glorious manner. Either way, this album provided closure on the first chapter of Venom's career and also showed a lot of people that they didn't quite have this band figured out as much as they liked to think.

Venom goes progressive - 75%

TableofHELL, May 1st, 2007

Well, sort of. The title track of this album is long enough to satisfy any Rush fan, yet metal enough to make Rush fans hate it. The guitar tone is thicker on this album and the drums are loud as fuck. The way Mantas' guitar plays through one speaker while Cronos' bass plays through the other is a good effect, an effect that Sodom would pick up on later on their "Get What You Deserve" album.

This album was to "make or break" for Venom, and wierdly enough, the world got neither. It sold well enough but it was short of the breakthrough that people were anticipating. There are a few key factors in why this was so.

A few of the songs are quite lifeless and lack in riffing power. Stand Up (And Be Counted) should be mentioned here. It has more ringing chords and anthemic lyrics than the speedy riff fest of the Venom of yore. Also, Aaaaaaarrgh! is funny but I wouldnt qualify it as a song, as I'm sure they wouldnt be able to play it again if they wanted to, and I think it was intended to be that way in the first place. Genocide seems to build up every now and then, but once you expect it to start kicking ass, it just plods along some more. There is a nice riff used around the chorus though.

I might have condemned this album with my aforementioned statements, but there are some real Venom classics on hand here. The title track is of course amazing from start to finish, including everything that people love about metal. Rip Ride ranks among my Venom favorites for its riff power that brings me back to the Welcome to Hell days. Also, Cry Wolf is an experiment without failing or sounding lame.

Once again, many bonus tracks are on hand from the Manitou single, the Warhead single, and "At War With Satan TV Adverts". Manitou is another experiment, very catchy, but the chorus can get annoying at times. Warhead is an ugly, slow, brooding motherfucker, while Seven Gates of Hell is an immediate classic, even still in the Venom setlist to this very day. On the other hand, Woman and Dead of Night are both forgettable.

In conclusion, this is no Black Metal or Welcome to Hell, but its very much worth giving attention to, if only for the title track, Seven Gates of Hell, and Rip Ride.

Are you damned in Hell? Classic Venom. - 93%

Satanwolf, March 15th, 2007

Venom's third album, "At War with Satan," fails to best their second and greatest album, "Black Metal." But for the twenty-minute title track alone it's worth the price of admission. "At War With Satan," the song is an epic metal monsterpiece of hellish proportions, a gore-soaked take of war between demons and angels. There are some awesome fast guitar riffs in this song, courtesy of Mantas, interspersed with slower and evil sounding instrumental parts and Cronos' most evil voice. Any Satanic metalhead should be very familiar with this song, and I suggest playing it while driving high-speed through the church parking lot on Sunday morning as it's aggressive as fuck.

Some of the other songs don't stand up as well. I prefer the complete version of "Manitou" to the original album version, which was edited. This song is a great one and will get you on the warpath, let's go claim the bloodied scalps of some white men. And "Cry Wolf" is one of the best Venom songs ever, I don't know why this one is so obscure, a classic tale of lycanthropy. "Woman" has some damn cool guitar riffs, another horny Venom song. "Genocide," Rip Ride" and "Women, Leather and Hell" are good but hardly the band's best. "Aaarrrggghhh" is a total waste of tape but still quite appropriate for Venom. And overall the album was hampered by bad production so I deduct 2 points for that. I mean,all the early albums sound raw, but there are different levels of rawness.

If you are a hardcore Venom fan, you already have the re-release of this with the bonus tracks. If not, then you must ask yourself, "Are you damned in Hell?"

An album basically made up of 1 song - 80%

cronosmantas, November 7th, 2005

At fist listen, the first thing that came up and kicked me in the balls was how good the production was. Now we're not talking high class production values as with today's bands, but compared to Venom's first two ultimately cool but poorly produced gruesome twosome, this sounds pretty damn good.

The album kicks off with the surprisingly long title track. This baby is almost 20 minutes in length (when released on LP, the song actually took up the entire first side)! This was very ballsy for the band! The song is surprisingly good with an "interesting" story within its lyrics. The story has some demons heading up to heaven to take the place down. They severely beat up angels who at once they recover from getting their asses kicked then head down to hell to take out the demons. Yes, it is one fucked up story that only could be dreamed up by the demonic minds of Venom. The song is surprisingly well structured, considering the bands rather poorly (but still cool) structured origins. I did like the song very much but I do have to say that at 20 minutes in length, it does get a little long. Even cutting it down to 13 minutes would have been sufficient enough. One of my favorite moments of the song is the ending when it has a narrator talking over the song. It's so chilling it will give you goosebumps!!

Since the first song is so long, sadly the rest of the album really just acts as filler. Sure there is some decent material, but it really is just "there" per say. Of the six tracks that follow the monster opener, Rip Ride would have to be the best. It's just balls-to-the-wall heavy metal that Venom known for. The album closer is humorously titled Aaaaaaarrghh but sadly it doesn’t live up to its funny name. It's mostly just talking. To show off the bands unique sense of humor, they announced that the third "a" in the title is silent. HAHAHA!! That's why I love Venom! They can be scary, aggressive, yet they also have that great British sense of humor (whoops, I mean humour)

The album cover itself was a real "shocker" at the time that would make any parent majorly pissed at their child. Though some found it shocking, I personally found the cover to be actually humorous. I could just picture the band members just sitting around, drinking and playing cards trying to think up another way to be shocking. One member goes "how about we make the album cover have the texture of the bible and print an inverted cross on it!" Hey, what can I say, it worked as most people I know remember the album cover more than anything.

Overall I don't view this album to be as good as or better than Welcome to Hell or Black Metal. Though it's not as good, I still viewed it as a step in the right direction evolution wise. The reason for this is of course for the much improved production values as well as the better song writing capabilities that the band proved with the title song. Sadly Venom would not continue with this trend as they de-evolved with their pivotal but extremely disappointing release of Possessed.

More interesting Venom releases to come later...

it's no black metal, but it's still killer - 80%

Abominatrix, October 26th, 2003

Arrrggh! The title of the final track of this album, and an apt description for the feeling of unmitigated and juvenile joy it sometimes brings about in me. THis is no "Black Metal"...the songs just don't seem to quite have that energy and the production is worse, in my estimation..but damn, it's Venom....and I haven't really been disappointed with anything I've heard from Chronos, with or without his original bandmates. The crazy thing about this album is, of course, the title track...a twenty minute song. The idea of Venom recording a twenty minute epic is ludicrous sounding....absolutely absurd...and yet somehow they manage to pull it off. "At War With Satan' sprawls, crashes and lurches through countless riffs with the brash, youthful energy of a drunken elephant...and damn if it isn't totally enjoyable. The whole thing feels like it could fall apart in an instant, reduced to a cacophony of disjointed sounds. SOmehow, despite Venom's obvious technical limitations, they manage to hold things together...proof that the music is so much more than the sum of its parts. The amount of excitement the band seems to have been feeling while recording this song is clear....there are so many buildup and release moments of tension...the music climaxing, Abadon's tumbling, chaotic drums slowing everything down...a breath or two...and suddenly everything crashes into being again with another riff, another caleidoscope of garish psychedelic lighting on the proverbial visual cortex. There's even a clean guitar break with a female doing some soft guest vocals. It lasts for about six seconds, and there are no illusions that Venom are anything but the misogynistic, rancid drunkards from England they have always come across as..but it manages to effectively convey a moment of quiet, simple beauty in all this chaos. There are lots of theatrical moments, too, such as deep, ooh so frightening spoken vocals...a hint probably taken up by Cradle of Filth, among others...and guitar solos wanking all over the place. Chronos sounds like himself too, luckily...although oddly enough, it sounds like he's got a cold in this first song...."serve the bastah!". The rest of the album is good, but doesn't, for the most part, live up to the title track. These are short songs, without a lot of power in them, unfortunately..with the notable exceptions of "Ripride", definitely one of Venom's fastest and most aggressive tracks, and my personal favourite, "Women, leather and hell". Many of the other tracks seem to suffer from the loose sounding recording though, and there seem to be what sound like glitches in the recording popping up here and there, although that could just be my copy or my interpretation of an intentional effect. "ARgh!" is noteworthy too, as it's not really a song, but some kind of alcohol induced frenzied exercise of the band playing chaotic nonsense, everyone shouting incoherently, and other assorted noises...they even stop t hings for a moment so someone can bang some slovenly chords on a piano. Venom have a sense of humour that's probably unparalelled in extreme metal, and it's part of the reason I enjoy them so much. They are so nasty, so over the top, and so damn fun to listen to.

Man, that is one LONG tune. - 82%

Estigia666, August 3rd, 2003

Clocking at 20 minutes. The longest and greatest Venom song ever. Of course, I'm talking about the title track. "At War with Satan" contains everything you could have imagined from these savages: from the rock-and-roll-ish to the almost thrash-like riffing, Cronos spitting the epic history of the battle of Satan's army (quite a good reading) while beating the living shit out of his bass which sounds more like heavy machinery than an actual musical instrument, Mantas smoking soloing, Abbadon's skin beating sounding like someone dropping rocks on the drums. THAT, and much more: a chick singing (!!!!), a clean guitar interlude, glorious narrative passages in that good old british accent that gives shivers to my spine, and many, many more things. Listen to it and prepare to be owned.

The rest..."Rip Ride" is quite a good fast song following the tradition of "Angel Dust", "Genocide" contains quite good melody in vocals and you must go with the flow on this one instead of take a beating. These two and "Women Leather and Hell" are the most remarkable, not that the rest isn't bad (except for the awfully misplaced last track), but neither of those can stand to the monster that is the title track. Even if you get this album solely because of this song, you wouldn't be dissapointed.

And the last track...just some random screaming and noise made with the instruments. It is fun to listen to the first time, but it gets old umbelievably fast.