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Not As Influential, But Still A Must-have - 83%

DanielG06, March 12th, 2022

Black Metal is quite a drastic change from its predecessor; not in terms of tone or themes, but musically the songs are much more punchy and heavy. Sure, the songs are still short, and the delivery is still obnoxious, but this time around, Venom is focusing more on straightforward riffing, with less blues influences and a more forward-thinking songwriting style. For example, without trying to sound like a hipster, considering this record predates any official Metallica, Exodus, Slayer or Overkill release, some of the riffs are pretty mind-blowing in that they are pretty much thrash metal before thrash metal existed. But, Black Metal is its own album in its own right, and since I talked enough about influence in the Welcome To Hell review, I'd rather get straight into the music.

As I said, Black Metal is absurdly heavy, and the band sounds surprisingly tight. They definitely utilise more dynamic sections, such as the "lay down your souls" part of the title track, and the slower, more thundering song that is Buried Alive, which was a live staple for Venom just because it stood out for its slow tempo and more groovy approach. Teacher's Pet, the reincarnation of Poison from the first album, shows that the band still has a lot of bluesy, dirty aspects that still sound much closer to rock n roll like Motörhead than black or thrash metal, but after that the band reverts back to ripping 3-minute anthems like Leave Me In Hell and Don't Burn The Witch.

There has been a noticeable increase in tempo on Black Metal, and the band is clearly evolving and becoming more extreme musically to fit the aesthetic more. The production on this record is also a huge improvement; the guitars sound massive and dark, and the drums also sound huge, giving the album a very spaced out atmosphere. The lead guitars are still amazing, and liken heavily to other NWOBHM bands that actually works very well with the demented riffs. Cronos' growls are more confident and vociferous.

In terms of subject matter, Black Metal is identical to its predecessor, but this was the definitive sound that Venom pushed, and I don't necessarily think that this is a bad thing, although had this album came out last year I probably would have thought it was a joke because of how generic the lyrics are, but remember that this was before extreme metal and controversial lyrics even really existed, maybe except for Mercyful Fate and some hardcore punk bands. Of course, regardless of lyrics, the music still kicks ass, and Venom still have plenty of memorable tracks on their second effort, showing that the band is not abandoning quality to embrace a theme. As a whole, Black Metal is essential for any fan of metal, and while it can't hold a candle to Venom's godlike debut, it is still an incredible record.

Not really black metal, but... - 78%

GratefulDeadInside, February 5th, 2022

Venom is probably heavy metal's first one-hit wonder.

Well, more like three-hit wonders but still. They had 3 largely successful albums with "Welcome to Hell", "Black Metal", and "At War With Satan", but then faded in relative obscurity; releasing nothing noteworthy afterward (until maybe Storm the Gates or so).

But hey, they coined the term "black metal", a genre known for murderous lunatics, edgy satan-worshipping teenagers, and spooky forest album covers. How does the genre's ""first"" ever release hold up?

Well for one, it's not really black metal at all. More of speed metal mixed with faster NWOBHM.

See, Venom really were the first major band to use satanic imagery for their albums, and be serious about it. AC/DC may have had songs like "Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be" a few years earlier, but Venom took it to the first ever extreme.

"Black Metal" begins with a chainsaw, with grinding noise it leads into guitarist Mantas' opening riff. Vocalist Cronos has a gravel-like voice here but doesn't compare to the screeches on later, actual black metal releases. Black Metal's lyrics are rather cartoonish, and feel childish compared to something like, say, De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. Though, you must remember how when this came out, lyrics like these were thought to turn kids into devil-worshippers. For that, I can excuse them for the time period (though, the title track's lyrics are still quite laughable).

They did the drums quite well on the production department. They aren't "booming" exactly but they groove to Cronos and Mantas' rhythms. They add to the atmosphere of some songs, mainly the slow beginning of "Buried Alive" and it's speedy follow-up "Raise the Dead".

Venom really suffered from only having 1 guitarist from this time. Solo's sound weak and underpowered and don't match the power an album like this should have. Venom is like a more raw and aggressive version of Motorhead, and Motorhead worked with one guitarist because of good production and Lemmy being an accomplished musician. As much as some headbangers would hate to hear, Venom weren't really that great musicians. They were fucking amazing performers but not musicians.

Cronos believe it or not sings well on this record. Not well as in he's good, but well as in it fits the music. He sort of matches Lemmy in the vocal department, as both of them aren't great at singing, but know how to fit it with the music being played. This shows in songs like Countess Bathory, Sacrifice, and To Hell and Back.

The song "Teachers Pet" is a highlight due to how unfitting it is. It's not necessarily a bad song but doesn't fit with the rest of the songs on the record. It's like a bonus track they stuck at the end of side A. However, it's interesting due to basically being a sort of blues rock song (mainly with the interlude). Not really what you'd expect from a "black metal" album now, would ye?

The album ends with the intro to their follow-up album, At War With Satan. A neat teaser, I suppose, but I feel it shouldn't have been stitched together with Don't Burn the Witch. It kinda messes up my listen whenever I listen to the album, and should've been left as a... Bonus track, of sort.

All in all, Venom's "Black Metal" may have coined the term for the revolutionary metal sub-genre, but the album definitely shows it's age, and should not be anyone's first listen to ""black metal"", and expect the rest of the genre to be like this.

-Someone who's rather grateful, and somewhat dead inside.

More like primitive NWOBHM - 89%

DesecratorJ, May 10th, 2020

I obviously had to give my take on this particular album since it always had some debates surrounding it. Venom came out with an album called "Black Metal" and suddenly some people claimed that Venom is playing black metal. Maybe at the time it was considered that way, but of course, things has evolved and by modern standards, it's not even close to what its name suggest. Venom being from United Kingdom, they also got tagged into the NWOBHM. Did Venom sounded like a typical NWOBHM band? Definitely not. However, the approach taken on their music was still relatable. Inspired by bands like Black Sabbath or Motörhead, the main characteristic of Venom at the time was its primitive sound, especially on the first album, "Welcome to Hell" in 1981. Being one of the first band to fully use the satanic image, they went on to influence a countless amount of thrash and extreme metal bands that formed in the early to mid 80s. The "Black Metal" album was released shortly after the debut in 1982 and managed to gain enough attention for the band to get lot of controversies because of their image.

First and foremost, this album has always been my favorite of Venom even if "Welcome to Hell" is still a release I enjoy too. The sound featured on "Black Metal" is very interesting in a sense that it's raw and primitive for its time but it always sounded still great to me, especially when you are used to listen to bad produced records. What we have on this album is quite a bunch of material considering there are 11 tracks and nearly 40 minutes of playtime. I like how this album starts off with the most rubbish sound within the album title song "Black Metal" and then the first riff kick-off and shit is getting real now, it's fast-paced and evil sounding. This song became a classic with its catchy chorus and famous "Lay down your soul to the gods rock `n' roll" line. The music being generally heavy as fuck regarding the riffs as seen in "To Hell and Back", there are also some quite entertaining solos here and there. One of my favorite track on this record is definitely "Buried Alive" because of its overall grim atmosphere and great guitar parts from "Mantas". This album also features the best vocal performance by "Cronos", at least in my book, his voice has a punkish tone and uses it aggressively and even sound dramatic in songs like "Leave Me In Hell" or "Sacrifice".

When it comes to drums of "Abaddon", it's mostly fast-paced and does a pretty great job at speed metal tracks like "Heaven's On Fire", which has a pretty significant Motörhead vibe on with that classic song structure type. On this album, we also have the famous track "Countess Bathory" which is a favorite among most people who listen to Venom. However, I don't seem to enjoy it as much as others for some reason. I think i've grew tired of it at some point because of its repetitiveness. Don't get me wrong, it's still a good track, but I just can't seem to enjoy it as much as I did when I first started listening to this album. However, "Don't Burn the Witch" for instance, I really like the main riff and most likely because of it being very similar to "Born for Burning" of Bathory. Of course, this album had to have a track like "Teacher's pet" that doesn't sound credible at all, despite having some decent riffs, but the overall mood is bad to me nonetheless. The preview of the "At War with Satan" doesn't show much as awell and I didn't really pay attention to it.

What is really missing from this album is some rhythmic guitar parts during the guitar solos. It sounds a little vacant when there's only bass and drums filling in during those times, at least the bass is heard perfectly in the mix. Other than these details, I don't have many bad things to say about "Black Metal" since its production value is quite great and fits quite well with the music on it. In a sum up, this album is very enjoyable for what it is, taking into account that it's an innovative record with its multiples characteristics that were later replicated on lots of extreme metal music. I always end up coming back to this album from time to time and give it a casual listen, definitely something I would recommend to anyone that is looking for the origin of thrash, death or black metal.

Favorite tracks:

Black Metal
Buried Alive
Don't Burn the Witch
Leave Me in Hell
Raise the Dead

Black metal?? Of course not! - 90%

psiguen, July 12th, 2019

First of all, I must admit black metal is not my cup of tea at all. But I also must admit (and I'm sure a lot of people will agree with me) that this is not black metal at all, not the way we think of black metal nowadays at the very least. I have always found Venom's sound as a rawer and even faster version of Motörhead. Nobody would say Motörhead is black metal, huh? Back in that time (it was 1982), this was surely a very raw and savage band, and although they were originally labelled as NWOBHM, there're a lot of obvious influences from rock'n'roll to even blues (yeah, check "Teacher's Pet" out and the crazy blues interlude). They called the album "Black Metal", and they have been a very influential band in the development of the style, but I don't think they were founding any black metal sub-genre at all, just like Helloween or Running Wild never played death metal despite the fact they both appeared on a compilation called "Death Metal". Some other similarities with bands like Saxon prevent them from being labelled as black metal... Anyway, and regardless the black metal, I find MA's definition quite appropriate (NWOBHM/Speed metal).

The overall result of the album is kind of a fast-paced rock'n'roll-based metal with a raw and brute sound. It starts up with an electrical machine sound, it seems like a driller making a hole in a wall, but it was actually vocalist and bassist Cronos using a chainsaw in order to make his way through a door in the recording studio, then "Black Metal" fades in and bursts in one of the most intense tracks of the album, and one of all-time Venom's classics.

Having only one guitar player (oppossing to most metal bands, which have 2 guitarists), guitars sound quite weak at times, especially when soloing, as just bass and drums are backing the guitar solo. Maybe this could have been resolved by dubbing an additional rhythm guitar track only for backing the solos, thus giving a thicker and heavier sound to the whole record, just like other bands with only one guitar player. Oppossing to this is bass guitar; plugging it to a guitar amp instead of a bass one makes it sound rawer with no need of distortion. At this point, I'm not really sure whether the bass is distorted or not, but anyway this somehow makes up for the lack of a rhythm guitar during the solos. Drums are mostly fast-paced, Abaddon has an obvious preference for sped-up classical rock 'n' roll patterns, but there're also heavy and slower, nearly doomy songs like "Buried Alive", where there's an anguishing and opressive atmosphere like being actually buried alive. and a double-bass drum section (notice, not blast beats, just double bass) in the chorus of "Countess Bathory". Cronos' vocals are raw and throaty, either death-like growls nor blackish screeches, quite akin to Lemmy's voice but deeper and maybe less harsh though.

Venom's lyrics and imagery was way too shocking at that time, although nowadays it may seem quite comical, nearly laughable. Their lyrics talk about topics in rock 'n' roll: girls, sex, motorbikes, leather and playing, adding that excessive dose of blasphemy, Satan and Hell which made them that shocking in their early days. In addition, their imagery in leather gave them a sado-masochistic looking, resulting in a pretty provocative band back in the days.

All in all, and as I stated before, I have never found any trace of black metal in any of Venom's albums. The influences I see range from blues and rock 'n' roll to NWOBHM, and I find similarities with bands like Motörhead, Saxon, old Manowar or even Judas Priest, rather than Mayhem, Emperor, Immortal or Darkthrone, or does anybody out there think singing about Satan and Hell is enough to be labelled as black metal? Of course not.

Ride with me to hell and back - 100%

goflotsam, July 8th, 2019

In 1982, Venom released their second and most important album ever, Black Metal. This album was highly influential towards thrash metal, death metal, and the genre that it coined the term for, black metal. Musically, Black Metal is neither of these genres as the album is primarily classified as NWOBHM and speed metal. Just like its predecessor Welcome to Hell, it also had a low-budget raw production that many black metal bands took influence from.

You will notice Black Metal's influence once you start up the title track. The guitars have a sound similar to Motörhead's music, which is probably coincidental as Motörhead was the first metal band to embrace punk rock elements. This song is literally their "Ace of Spades". "To Hell and Back" isn't as fast as "Black Metal", but it contains a lot rock 'n' roll riffs that make it a good song to drive to. "Teacher's Pet" is a hilarious song that lyrically mocks female teachers that engage in pedophilia. In hindsight, this song has a lot of importance due to there being a lot of cases of this nowadays, especially in the UK. "Countess Bathory" is also worth mentioning since the Swedish black metal band Bathory named themselves after this song. It's also the grooviest number on here with the song being kinda like a predecessor to Motörhead's "Orgasmatron".

Just like with Welcome to Hell, Cronos sings with a punk rock style of rasp on Black Metal. A lot of extreme metal vocalists, even Tom G. Warrior would give their thanks to Cronos for pioneering extreme metal vocals. Cronos is also a competent bass player in this era of Venom with the bass being noticeably audible for an album with low quality production. You can hear Cronos' bass riffs on pretty much every song. Mantas' guitar playing is mostly influenced by punk rock on Black Metal but it's clear that he doesn't mind doing ballads as seen on "Buried Alive". Mantas also delivers some really cool guitar solos such as on "Raise the Dead" and "Heaven's on Fire". Abaddon's drumming style is arguably one of the first metal drummers to utilize double bass drumming which was popularized by Dave Lombardo of Slayer. He also varies the tempo on songs like "To Hell and Back" and "Sacrifice" that exhibit mid-pace beats.

Black Metal might be called a thrash metal album or even a black metal album. However, at the end of the day, I consider it an early example of extreme metal. Unfortunately, this album along with predecessor Welcome to Hell were really the only masterpieces Venom ever put out. Even though Black Metal ends with a preview of "At War with Satan, it's not worth checking out the album At War with Satan due to the significant drop in quality. Black Metal is a landmark album in metal history, and although it doesn't have good production, it makes up for it with its sheer influence. Every extreme metal band, even Metallica have cited this album as an influence which goes to show you how important this record is. Enough said, if you need your NWOBHM to be angry and raw, give this album a shot.

Against The Odds - 93%

LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling, February 25th, 2019

In a 2008 interview with Guitar World, Venom frontman Cronos gave his thoughts on the NWOBHM that was unfolding around the time Venom formed: "I would see all these new bands coming in who thought they were different, but to me they were just younger versions of Judas Priest or Saxon or Iron Maiden. I just didn’t see any originality in these bands, and I wanted my band to be unlike anything else around."

And Venom truly was unlike any other band at the time. They took the existing structure of heavy metal and made it leaner and meaner, stripping it down while simultaneously cranking up the aggression and primal ferocity.

Following a 20 second intro that sounds like grinding sheet metal, the band breaks into the title track, which serves as a sort of mission statement. The drums bash out a basic 1-2 beat that sounds like a caveman beating a log as Cronos' hoarse rasp implores the listener to "lay down your soul to the gods rock n' roll." Guitarist Mantas' chromatic shredding creates a wild and chaotic atmosphere, setting the path for future fret-abusers like Kerry King and Trey Azagthoth.

But even without taking its historical significance into account, "Black Metal" is just a great album on its own merits. Mantas shows off his ability to write some delightfully sinister riffs on tracks like the slow, eerie "Countess Bathory" and the thrashy "Don't Burn The Witch." Cronos was a vocal powerhouse in his prime, with his throaty bellow adding flavor to his tales of sex, drugs, rock n' roll, and Satan. "Buried Alive" proves to be one of the standout tracks, taking a slower, more ominous path, until it leads into the thrashy "Raise The Dead."

The album perfectly demonstrate's Venom's penchant for writing catchy, anthemic choruses, even if it often tends to just be the song title shouted repeatedly. Iwill say, however, that "Teacher's Pet" is a bit of an outlier, although the riffs may be good, the GET YER TITS OUT FOR THE LADS breakdown is a bit much. It's got a nice guitar solo, at least.

The production isn't quite as muddled as "Welcome To Hell," but it's still cavernous and raw, with a filthy guitar tone and deep, thudding drums.

With "Black Metal," Venom pulled off a mighty feat: They created an album that had an insurmountable influence, but was also just a flat out great album. For anyone who just wants to appreciate a record filled with great riffs and just plain fun, "Black Metal" is for you.


Anyone else think Cronos sounds like Vegeta? - 97%

Valfars Ghost, December 8th, 2016

For this review, I’ll assume you’re not new to metal and already know why this album is important. If you're not, you can find out on some of the other reviews here but I’m going to cut to the chase. This landmark release is about as influential as they come in the metal world and, as such, it's been praised to Heaven, err... Hell and back and, while this was a trailblazing effort, it’s not quite perfect. There are a few small problems that pop up too often and drag this album down from what otherwise might have been a perfect score.

A number of indisputable classics call this album home. The title track is a powerhouse opener. When the welding torch or whatever industrial machine that is at the beginning gives way to the main riff, you know you’re in for an ass-whooping. The sloppy proto-thrash riffs barrel forth at a sickening speed, flattening you with ease. ‘Heaven’s on Fire’ and ‘Raise the Dead’ are equally vital, with a boundless energy and merciless drive, both as stimulating as they come. Death, black, and thrash metal were all foreseen on this album and it’s not hard to see why legions of followers from Metallica to Mayhem found Venom’s twisted musical vision so inspiring.

On all of these songs, Black Metal's main selling points are on full display. First up is the record's simplicity and violent musicianship. No frills, no pretensions, just a vicious barrage of savage riffing and hostile attitude, demonstrating more than a little influence from the punk movement that had exploded into the public's awareness a few years prior. Said hostile attitude is there in the blazing guitar work, it's there in the drums that bash away with reckless fury, and it's there in Cronos' bellowing, his vocal tone not dissimilar to the sound of gravel scraping against sandpaper. And of course, the album's low-grade production is equally important, as Black Metal's desired roughness would be incomplete without it. If Motörhead can be said to have hot-rodded the metal genre, Venom supercharged it even further, equipping that vicious bitch with the engine of a drag racer and a dangerous amount of nitrous.

Sadly, this album isn't all sun-consuming darkness and Satanic mischief. About half of these tracks have endings that the songwriters clearly put almost no thought into. 'Teacher’s Pet' is a prominent victim, with the band coming across like they didn’t have time to think up a solid way to bring the song to a close so they just improvised this moment where the last note played on the guitar lingers and Cronos shouts “That was good. That was real good.” More than half the pieces on the album also putter out like a junky old car with surprisingly weak, half-hearted endings.

'Teacher's Pet' is the only real weak link here, a fine song hampered by the stupid crap that weighs it down. In addition to the half-baked ending, there's a needlessly long passage in the middle packed with awful noodling that goes nowhere. Eventually it comes to an end when a bunch of rowdy British youths start howling and singing about the teacher showing her tits, each of them managing to find a different way to be off-key. The rest of 'Teacher's Pet' is great, delivering the same savage, high-speed musical bruising most of the other songs do, but about a quarter of the song is just noise the band should have known nobody would want to hear.

As primitive as it may sound today, Black Metal was about as futuristic as they come. In a way, it predicted and laid the groundwork for a smorgasbord of genres, including speed, thrash, and black metal. Despite decades of those genres' practitioners building on the groundwork Venom provided, the ferocity and vitality of this album has rarely been surpassed or equaled. Even when the band slows down the tempo on the dread-inducing 'Buried Alive', Venom's strength as composers shines through, as they deliver an over-the-top cavalcade of songs as goofy as they are furious. This landmark release is absolutely essential, both for its place in history and the quality demonstrated through almost every moment of the disc.

Black Metal - 76%

Big_Robot_Monster, March 15th, 2016

Venom’s “Black Metal.” Arguably one of the top 10 most influential heavy metal albums ever recorded. The spring from which thrash, death, and black metal all emerged. And I’ve never heard it before this week.

OK, yeah, that’s a bit of heavy metal heresy, but I’m not trying to impress you jerks. The issue isn’t “how influential is this album?” THAT answer is: fucking very. I’m not about to judge the album by how many other bands and genres sprung from its loins. So much hay has been made over that issue at this point that it’s not really a relevant question anymore. It’s been 34 years since it was recorded. My question here is “is ‘Black Metal’ even any good?”

First off, I’ll admit this album is hard to review after already hearing about fifty million other bands that took the ideas here and ran with and improved on, but I’ll try.

Secondly, this album occasionally gets categorized as thrash metal, or black metal or whatever the fuck. It’s not. It’s solidly a NWOBHM album. It’s a mid-tempo rocker. There are definitely Judas Priest influences here, and there are a few songs with some obvious residual blues influences from early heavy metal (refer your sexy selves to the solo at 2:37 in “Buried Alive” and the main riff of “Raise the Dead” and “Sacrifice”). It may have influenced thrash, but lumping Black Metal’s square peg into thrash metal’s square hole doesn’t make any sense.

Thirdly, and most importantly, this album is still pretty fucking enjoyable. I was legitimately worried about that, but no. It’s a good solid metal album, even if it might border a little closer at times to rock and roll by today’s standards. The production is pretty much a smelly glob of doo, but I actually really like the garage rock sound because it makes the music sound a lot more authentic. The kind of live-feel this album has is where it really makes its bones.

Fourth, the subject matter of the lyrics is pretty generic. Satan, witchcraft, and the macabre have been staples of heavy metal music literally since the first fucking song of the first fucking heavy metal album ever made (Black Sabbath. I’m talking about Black Sabbath.).

Generic as it is, there are a lot of moments (they’re not all dingers) on “Black Metal” where Venom makes this kind of subject matter seem so much more genuine than a lot of the other dickheads who’ve driven Satan’s good name through the mud over the last few decades. For instance “Buried Alive” has some of the legitimately spookiest lyrics I’ve ever heard. And screaming “I don’t want to be born” over and over in “Leave Me In Hell” is fairly horrifying. In short, “Black Metal,” a 34-year old album I’m listening to for the first time at the ripe old age of nearly 29, made Hell seem relevant, which is no small feat in heavy metal.

This is an album that warrants repeated listens even so many years later, but I gotta knock this album down a few points for helping draw up the blueprint for the most lyrically monolithic genre in all of music. Sorry, every black metal band ever, but you fuckers are lyrical one trick ponies and I blame Venom.

Leave the unreal house of God - 92%

Felix 1666, May 9th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1982, 12" vinyl, Neat Records

"Black Metal" was the last album that Venom released before I got in contact with the band. This was the reason why "At War with Satan" became my initial impulse in terms of black metal. Otherwise, it would have been the here presented groundbreaking full-length. Its relevance for the development of extreme music cannot be denied. With "Welcome to Hell", Venom had begun to readjust the coordination system of popular music. "Black Metal" marked the provisional climax of their work.

During the last 33 years, we had the chance to get used to the harshness of the opening title track. It sounds familiar and almost smooth. But in 1982, the merciless approach of Venom was nothing less than a revolution. Okay, it was the continuation of the rebellion which had started with their debut. But it became obvious that Venom did no longer behave like a bastard of punk and metal that was fed with an overdose of crudeness. Indeed, the wording pointed in the right direction. The album offered black METAL. It was enriched with some really original special effects. Already the crunching beginning of the title track left its mark. I have read an interview with Abaddon where he described this noise as a "teeth grinding racket". I could not have put it better. The ridiculous voice of the preacher at the beginning of "Buried Alive" was a further great idea. He sounded like a moronic wimp so that he symbolized the (real or supposed) weakness of the Christian church. Finally, it was a clever act of self-marketing that the album ended with an appetizer for its successor. The fantastic opening riff of "At War with Satan" ennobled the here presented work ultimately and made the listener hungry for more.

"Black Metal" benefitted from its well balanced mix of filth, relentlessness and vehemence. The outstanding tracks scored with different features. The title track shocked with its ultra-aggressive approach, while the first guitar tones of "Buried Alive" pulled you into the coffin. "Bloodlust", which was also included on my edition of the album, was the most thrilling combination of structure and chaos since the beginning of the history of mankind and its drilling riffs had a devastating effect. Finally, "Countess Bathory" offered the best guitar line of the album. Its violent catchiness has remained unbeatable. In addition to the high level of the compositions, the suitable production did not need to shy away from a comparison with that of their own debut. (Other possibilities for comparison did not exist.) The guitar created an occult atmosphere, the boozy yet expressive vocals of Cronos worked very well and the rhythm section did its job in an impressive manner.

Well, one might say that every (strong) album has its highlights. It is hardly possible to contradict. But "Black Metal" additionally possessed an almost unique feature. While celebrating all that was evil, the formation took the liberty to perform the blues-soaked "Teacher's Pet". This humorous number gave rise to the question whether the entire album was just a parody. In hindsight, this seems to be the case in particular with regard to the self-mocking tendency that was stressed by the band on its later albums. Just think of "Aaaaaaarrghh". But we cannot ignore the crucial counterargument. Back in 1982, the scene had not yet been established. Due to this fact, there was just no object that could had been parodied. Nevertheless, it is amazing that the two-faced nature of Venom's work did not attract attention. Everybody seemed to be focused on their evil grimace. However, the later seriousness of a few Scandinavian musicians, not at least their criminal energy, appeared as an ironic - and sometimes tragic - twist of fate. It is no secret that they were highly influenced by the early works of Venom.

I do not want to hide the fact that "Black Metal" also included a downer. The slightly chaotic "Heaven's on Fire" suffered from its unclear chorus. The remaining tunes did not reach the level of the highlights without showing any signs of weakness. For example, "Sacrifice" blended with the overall image of the album, albeit it was just a dark rock song. Thus, let me explain my assassment. It is the average of the music (84%) and the "historical relevance" (100%) of this pioneer work. In a nutshell, "Black Metal" belongs to the world's cultural heritage. Only the official confirmation is still pending.

Classic and Influential, but Far From Flawless - 75%

ImpureSoul, August 28th, 2012

It was while I was on a trip to New York City a while ago that I came across a record store that was not like anything I've ever seen in the town I came from. Metal poured from the store speakers, and not just obligatory/mainstream stuff like AC/DC, Korn, Metallica and whatnot, but nitty-gritty underground Black Metal, ugly death metal, and even drone music. Long story short, I snapped up the Back on Black repressing of Venom's infamous cult classic 'Black Metal'.

Upon getting it home, I was in the middle of vomiting my guts up, but I didn't care. I put this baby on my turntable and listened to it while vomiting into a bucket. If that's not 'kvlt' than I don't know what is. Real horrorshow.

Now, I own the vinyl edition that consists of the Black Metal album, with a bonus extra disc that features bonus tracks of older Venom material. I'm going to skip reviewing that latter and focus on the main meat of the album, despite the extra disc being pretty badass. Anyway...
Venom's Black Metal was an exciting and sometimes goofy romp through booze-swilling satanic metal passages accompanied by comical vocals about the undead, Satan, and... eating out your teacher. MMMMMMMMM boy. The sounds of the album is full of grinding, primitive guitars that sound like giant machinery churning and chugging, blasting off wild solos on every second song or so, and it's always a treat when they do break into solo, although the solos aren't as common as one might first expect. It's as if the band doesn't want to spoil and overdo them, which I think makes them all the more special. The drums are... drums. They keep the pace of the song, they keep timing efficiently, they do their job, but they don't go above and beyond and knock you off their feet with anything flashy. They're just kinda... there. But not to worry, there's plenty that makes up for that little flaw. Though the vocals drown out the guitars to an extent, they provide a power that makes it clear where this band’s power and evil reputation came from. His vocals, completely atypical to the operatic sopranos of metal from the 80s, are pretty much grunted, gargly singing. Drunken chanting comes in every once in a while (the halfway point in Teacher's Pet being the most blatant example of this), giving you a strong sense of juvenile immaturity throughout the album, but it's never irritating. It's all good headbanging fun, and it's damn catchy too.

We start Black Metal off with the classic title track, which begins with a strange mechanical hissing sound, like a giant engine letting off steam (furnaces of Hell?). And then the grinding guitars come in, and soon you're caught in a swirl of simply-written balls-to-the-wall metal as Cronos shouts the classic tagline: "LAY DOWN YOUR SOUL FOR THE GODS ROCK AND ROLL!" And from there the album is pretty much relentless, the only real break being at the beginning of 'Buried Alive', where a deep-voiced Cronos gives the last rites ('Dust to dust, ashes to ashes', and all that) alongside the sound of dirt being dug up with a shovel. After that the guitars come in quiet, Cronos whispers a passage, and then the horns-out metal assault comes right back again.

The only thing that I find lacking here is variation and song structure. The songs on here--all of them--are blatantly simple, not really going out further than the typical verse chorus song and dance. There're a couple of structure variants in a couple songs (an extended solo section in Teacher's Pet and the slow, quiet intro to Buried Alive that I mentioned before), but other than that, the songs are quite primitive musically. I guess that's what this album is about--straightforward metal with little range, but consistent power and presence--but a little deviation from this formula somewhere in the album would have improved it. And don't get me wrong, this album is by no means monotonous. In fact, it's never boring. It's always a fun blast of the nitty-gritty metal that would later spawn Slayer and Bathory among others, and there is variation to be found here in tone. For example, songs such as Black Metal are dark and ugly, Buried Alive has a distinct spiteful gloominess to it, even after the intro finishes up, and songs like Raise the Dead and Heaven Shall Burn are in-your-face rockers. The songs lack structure and expansion, sure, but the album's general dynamicism makes up for most of that.

Of course, I also can't dismiss this album's influence. It broke into what would be the first extreme metal, and one of the last significant Satan-based albums that don't look at Satan and all his bells and whistles with a tongue-in-cheek disposition. This was completely new, a landmark of heavy metal, and you can feel the essence of a classic dripping from the meat of the grinding guitar riffs that imprint into your mind like they were burned there by Satan's pitchfork, the maniacal country-bumpkin vocals spitting blasphemies at you, and the general rolling in-your-face atmosphere of the whole thing. This is and was a groundbreaking album, and I'm sure it amazed the metalheads of the day that only knew of Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden. A new wave of metal was poised to strike evil into the heart of what metal existed already--things were changing, and this album was arguably the forerunner of it all. Pick this baby up if you want a taste of classic, straightforward, fun metal, but if you're into the more sophisticated technical metal, you may be turned off. My favorite songs off Black Metal would be Don't Burn the Witch, Buried Alive, and Countess Bathory. Those are the songs that have the most power and presence on the album, the ones that gut you and smack you upside the head with their unforgiveable fire.

Originally written for

Simply exists to kick your ass - 100%

autothrall, May 9th, 2009

Throughout the 40-ish years of the genre's existence, there have been metal albums which reek of promise and potential, brilliant musicianship and complex compositional qualities, lyrics of social, political, personal or sacrilegious significance.

'Black Metal' is not one of those albums.

It shares none of those qualities. It simply exists to kick your ass and then do lines off that kicked ass while popping shots of whiskey, inhaling the most rancid cigarettes imaginable and sodomizing your old lady. Though the album is more cohesive from a production standpoint than Venom's legendary debut Welcome to Hell, it loses none of the grisly edge and raw meat riffing of its predecessor. Faux Satanic lyrics highlight tales of sexual blasphemy and necromantic ritual while disgustipated guitar riffs grind over the thundering of Abaddon. Cronos doesn't quite sing his's more than he kind of spits and growls them. Keep in mind, this was a period in which the overwhelming majority of early metal bands employed vocalists who sounded as if they were competing for testicular constriction. Some rotten bloke spewing his mid-ranged, almost conversational barks over a discharge of brutal and simple riffing was simply unheard of.

It all adds to the charm. "Black Metal" tips off the album with one of the band's most infectious speed metal riffs, gritty and catchy (the kind of riff that would inspire bands like Possessed, Razor, Slayer and Indestroy). It also features one of the band's infamous lyrics 'Lay down your soul to the gods rock `n' roll'. "To Hell and Back" is a mid-paced number notable for Cronos laying down the thick distorted bass, and Mantas's mind numbling, senseless shredding (also a huge influence on many thrash and death metal bands). "Buried Alive" opens with a hilarious sample of a last rite before slowly building some creepy mystique and busting out some gory 'eavy metal. "Raise the Dead" is just foul, Crono's vocals splattered across a kick ass yet traditional NWOBHM riff.

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
If God won't have me, then the Devil must!"

"Teacher's Pet" is like the X-rated version of Van Halen's "Hot For Teacher", done up Venom class. "Leave Me in Hell" burns with a molten hot metal lick, a doomed ride on the river Styx with Cronos as your ferryman. "Sacrifice" is another scorcher with its grim Satanic ritual lyrics and a killer bridge before the choral breakdown.

"Hooded figures, clouded skies
fires burn within their eyes
pentagram with baphomet midnight strikes
goat of menders lifts his head
summons up the living dead
virgin flesh lies tied and bound
hail satanas"

"Heaven's on Fire" has a balls out bluesy twist to its speedy fare, pumping bass and fuzzy distortion which amazingly defies age. Two more classics round out this set, the diabolic "Countess Bathory" and haunted house crowd pleaser "Don't Burn the Witch". Both fucking rule, in particular the verse riffing in the latter.

I've already mentioned that the album has a timeless vibe to it. Perhaps this is due to the fact it sounds like the band is playing it live from your basement while you sit above sipping tea and hiding behind your cross, all the while fantasizing about orgies in goats blood and sexual climax beneath the full moon. It isn't just the name of this album which inspired an entire sub-genre of the medium; it's the carnal and unswerving attitude of the band to deliver schlock rock in its most sinister scenario amidst some of the most outrageous riffs you were likely to hear in 1982. Venom did not give a fuck, and look where and wot it got them?



Every bit as good as Welcome to Hell... - 90%

TableofHELL, April 30th, 2007

This is where Venom got their act together (in my opinion). The production is light years better, the vibe is darker, and they sound more "together" as it were. Abaddon is still the shittiest drummer this side of Lars Ulrich, but he was at the top of his game on this one. Cronos' voice is as good as singing could get back then and his bass was thundering, while Mantas' guitar tone had a very heavy sound.

The opening track "Black Metal" was one of the fastest songs Venom had done up until that point. It is perhaps their most popular song, and it is for a reason. It has everything people love about Venom on this one. Other honorable mentions are "Heaven's on Fire" which is my personal favorite on the album due to its jerky rhythm and blasphemous lyrics, and Countess Bathory, for its catchy chorus and very punk riffing. Don't Burn the Witch has some of the best riffs in Mantas' library, and S.A.C.R.I.F.I.C.E. is the beholder of some of the best lyrics penned by man.

This sophmore effort proved that Venom werent a one trick pony, or even a novelty act. They broadened their sound, refined it and made it still sound heavy as balls, while still retaining the catchiness that Welcome to Hell possessed.

My copy came with 9 bonus tracks, with the Die Hard single, some radio sessions and alternative versions of album tracks. Its worth your money if only for the bonus tracks because Die Hard and Bursting Out rank among Venom's best.

Possibly the best album ever recorded! - 100%

Satanwolf, March 3rd, 2007

Hell yeah! A true NWOBHM classic, this album ups the power a notch from the excellent debut "Welcome to Hell." Raw, evil and Satanic proto-black metal. The album begins with the sound of a chainsaw cutting through a metal door, and that sets the tone for the attitude of the entire album. "Black Metal," the song, is a classic track, and you can hear how Venom pretty much single-handedly kicked in the early 80's thrash metal movement. Metallica, Slayer, Exodus and many more owe a debt to Venom for showing them the way to create hellish music.

Every track just kicks you in the balls and won't let up. "To Hell and Back" will actually take you there. "Bloodlust" and "Countess Bathory" are two of the greatest odes to Vampirism ever written. "Teacher's Pet" is hilarious, with the line 'Teacher caught me masturbating underneath the desk." What teenage metalhead didn't have a crush on some teacher back in the day? "Don't Burn the Witch," "Sacrifice," "Buried Alive" and "Heaven's on Fire" all display guitarist Mantas' ability as a riffmaster and one of the greatest guitarists in extreme metal. And the album closes with a segment of "At War With Satan," the twenty-minute epic track that opens rhe band's third album fo the same name.

If you don't already own this album then you are a total wussy. "Black Metal" captures the sound of the classic (but not original! Remember vocalist Jesus Christ?) Venom lineup of Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon at the height of their power. A must have for any true metalhead or Satanist. Two horns way the f **k up, this is truly Black F**king Metal! Lay down your souls!!!!!

A joke - 60%

noinnocentvictim, June 16th, 2006

This CD is truly amazing as far as how influential it was. However, musically speaking, it's a "satanic" version of Judas Priest with more of an emphasis on bass and less of an emphasis on squealing vocals. It's an enjoyable listen every now and then, but truly there's nothing really fascinating to find here. The only true way to convey this CD's normality is by describing how it sounds.

Almost every song consists of a variation of essentially the same simplistic guitar riff. A two-string chord (I'm not sure the exact term for this, as I don't actually play the guitar) followed by a repeating single note for a few notes, then another chord, and the chord progression gradually evolves between single notes picked tremolo. The vocals, as stated before, are typical 80s vocals, except not QUITE as annoying as the usual - it doesn't sound like opera auditions. The drums are simple, showing an occasional glimpse of talent within the fills. Still, there's nothing too creative here, and the lyrics are quite comical. We all know that initially the Satanism in black metal was more of a joke, and most of you should know this album is not black metal. Yet, it seems like they're trying their hardest to achieve this image early on.

This CD is more or less listenable, and there's nothing overtly offensive within the sound itself, but it's not really worthwhile. You should leave your familiarity with this CD to its historical significance.

Iconic "unpolished" greatness - 93%

cronosmantas, February 28th, 2006 that was a great year for metal. We got Iron Maiden's Number of the Beast, Judas Priest’s Screaming for Vengeance, Accept's Restless & Wild...and Venom's Black Metal. Black Metal may not be as "polished" as those other releases but it is every bit as influential....perhaps even more.

Black Metal, considered by many to be Venom's best release, is also the bands most known album no doubt because a new metal subgenre was formed from its name. This however is far from what we now consider "black metal" with more modern bands like Emperor and Mayhem. Venom here actually has a more thrash sound. Their lyrics, image, and stage names still fit the name "black metal" perfectly. Because of this I usually refer to them as a black/thrash band. Venom also seems to take themselves less seriously with a firm tongue placed in their cheek (as shown here on Black Metal). This is why I like the band so much as they can be badass but yet also have a sense of humor (check out the song Teacher’s Pet for an example of this).

Also what makes Venom different from today's black metal bands is that they are so damn catchy. Mantas's riffs here on Black Metal are to the point and the lyrics are just catchy. What...a black metal album being catchy?!?! Groups like Emperor and Mayhem are great at creating a dark brooding atmosphere but lack the simple nature to create kick ass riffs and yes, catchy lyrics and courses. Almost the entire album here is catchy. You'll catch yourself singing along with Cronos on many occasions.

This catchiness is shown right off the bat with the title track opener. You'll find yourself chanting "Lay down your soul to the god’s rock 'n' roll....BLACK METAL!!” Other catchy heavier tunes are Sacrifice, Countless Bathory, and Raise the Dead. Some more moody songs include the fantastic Buried Alive and Don't Burn the Witch. The album ends on a perfect note with the At War with Satan Preview which gives you a taste on what to expect on Venom's third album. That album sadly wasn't as good but the preview is great.

Another thing that is noticeable is that this album has "better" production than their debut...but it is still VERY rough. This "unpolished" production will throw some people off but it eventually grows on you. Black Metal along with their debut are must haves in any metal collection....even if you don't like Venom! If you find yourself liking these rough beginnings of the band and are curious what they sound like with better production, then I highly recommend 1989's Prime Evil and 2000's Resurrection.

Totally fucking wicked. - 90%

Static, November 23rd, 2005

Venom - Black Metal. Hugely influential, supremely controversial (in two ways - people question whether they were as influential as mentioned, OR whether they were actually a totally shit joke band), and fucking noisy and satanic to the extreme. People often complain about Venom's sloppy playing, but I feel that Black Metal has excellent musicianship. Yes, excellent. It really feels like Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon improved their craft since the less-good Welcome To Hell (sorry, I don't think it's near as good as this one, though I like it).

The riffs are more intense, faster, thrashier and generally much better played on Black Metal. Mantas seems to be capable of keeping time much better on this one, whereas on Welcome To Hell he was noticeably all over the show. Abaddon, well, he's just there doing his thing. And then there are the songs, all classic and incredible minus one or two.

Black Metal...the title track. Oh. My. Fucking. God. This is a thrash explosion! That main riff will make your neck snap and your eyeballs pop out. To this day it remains one of my favourite riffs of all time, it's just...*at a loss for words* Cronos doesn't sound as unhinged as on Welcome To Hell but he's still Cronos, raw, snotty and angry like a maniacal killer with the sniffles. After the stupendous title track it's onto To Hell And Back, which seems like a less intense Welcome To Hell. It's pretty good regardless.

But Buried Alive is where it all comes together with me. UltraBoris thought it was a low-point but I find it to be the greatest of anything Venom ever did. That mourning voice reciting the funeral rites...the sound of dirt being shoveled into a grave...Cronos breathing and whispering to soft guitar...soon he gets louder and ROOAARR! AS THEY LOWER ME DOWN, INTO THAT HOLE IN THE GROUND! The lyrics read like a complete nightmare, in an absolutely brilliant way. It's infectious, bone-chilling stuff. SUMMON THE DEAD, BAPHOMET'S CALL, BLOOD ON MY HANDS, OOOOARRRGHHH!!! ...wait for it...LETTT ME OUT OF HEERREE! What follows is a truly epic solo that proves Cronos knew what to do with an axe. Cronos excels with his vocals on this one.

Raise The Dead comes around to kick you in the nuts after that less energetic (though compelling) preceeding track. It's just Venom being Venom on this track...nice catchy chorus. Acid Queen kicks it up another notch, with a driving force and Cronos screaming in your ear. Then, somehow, Bloodlust bursts in and intensifies the power even MORE. Great stuff.

Now, Teacher's Pet...this is a funny(erk) one about masturbating under a desk and getting caught by your teacher. Unfortunately it is too stupid to be taken seriously and suffers for it, helping a little to perpetuate the view that Venom were just clowns. This track is dumb. Pass.

Leave Me In Hell picks up the ball after that drop, but is somewhat average Venom. Just a good burst of energy but not remarkable.

Could go on but the rest is just more of the same...which I see as a good thing, cos I love Venom's sound. Countess Bathory is notable as an above average cut. It is easy to see why Venom were so influential with this album and they had clearly improved as song-writers and musicians. At least I feel that way. They weren't clowns, they were cool, grim pioneers with a small penchant for tounge-in-cheek that has been exaggerated by some.

And so unfolds the art that would be black metal.. - 89%

Shadow0fDeath, August 8th, 2004

In a time back in the early 80's, the band known as Venom were well known for their live performances and extreme image in everyway. Labeling their creation as black metal, Venom literally was known for playing without any form of musicianship and shouting blasphemous lyrics. Covering their albums with pentagrams, goats, etc. Their shocking image also brought to them a wide variety of people in their fan base.

Venom definately carry the NWOBHM sound. The guitar work easily can be remind the listener of motorhead. With the constant chugging riffs and grunting vocals. Occasionally the vocals go into a whisper like on the song "Buried Alive". The drumming on this album is pretty generic which really takes away from the album.

The album doesn't have as dark and atmospheric feel as later black metal albums such as Bathory's Selftitled, "The Return", "Under the sign of the black mark" or Hellhammers "Satanic Rites" or "Apocalyptic Raids". It's more like a bunch of teenagers having a great time and writing blasphemous lyrics. Overall that feel for this album is much like most other heavy metal classics with a darker form of lyrics. Any black metaller needs to hear this album. An album which at the time was probably thought just another metal album has now become a timeless classic

An unrestrained celebration of iniquity - 95%

Abominatrix, October 24th, 2003

A complete and undeniable classic. This album is so full of spirit, so ripe with explosive energy it's almost indescribable. I'm not going to get into any sort of debate as to whether this is really "black metal" or not. It certainly sounds more like Motorhead, NWOBHM or proto-thrash and such than anything related to modern black metal...but its influence can still be felt in the furthest removed forms of black metal. Certainly there would have been no Bathory without Venom, and no Hellhammer either most likely, and bands like Sigh (and countless others) obviously owe Venom a huge debt. Anyway, that whole debate is old..what about the music? Well...every track here is a definite masterpiece of abrasive, uncontrollable madness, like a formula one racecar plunging through a crowded city, plowing through people, buildings and all slower vehicles that dare get in its path, with an alcoholic maniac at the wheel, grinnning and laughing with glee all the while. On the way of course, our driver will have to stop to pick up some big breasted girls, some of whom he will fornicate with total abandon, some of whom he will take out into the cemetery and slaughter in the name of Satan, still laughing and guzzling all the way. This is the kind of album one can play over and over and never grow bored with, never stop headbanging to with gusto or maniacally air guitaring along with. The worst song on here is the well known title track, which starts off the album and is still by no means an unworthy song. There are definite highlights to be found here, but those are really up to individual interpretation, since it is difficult not to be sucked in by the whole thing. For me, the ballad like "Buried Alive", with its particularly morbid sounding vocals and one of Mantas's best solos ever, leading straight into the fast and evil attack that is "Raise the dead", are two such highlight moments...along with the awesome 'Heaven's On Fire", with a riff just about any thrash band that could dare call itself more advanced would have been envious to have written..."Don't Burn the Witch", possibly the most "modern" sounding song here, with a riff that was so blatantly stolen by Quorthon for Bathory's "Born For Burning"....damn, if I go on much longer I'll be listing the whole album. "Acid queen", which can be found on many of the rereleased versions of this album, is great fun, and "Teacher's pet" is a hillariously raunchy song about some highschool kid's wet dream, complete with slow bluesy section and catcalls and wolf whistles from the band and most likely everyone else in the studio as well. The production here is pretty loose and not of the highest professional quality, I suppose, but it sounds amazing...much better than the sometimes laughable (though still great) "Welcome To Hell"...and there are no technical glitches as seems to be the ocasional case with "At War With Satan". Cronos's vocals are totally understandable too, which is cool, since it makes it easy to sing along to these songs. I definitely think he has one of the coolest and most distinctive raspy vocal styles in metal. Venom receive a lot of crap from people who bitch about their lack of musicianship. This is something I don't entirely understand, since it's clear that a lot of newer bands play a hell of a lot worse than Venom did. Sure, they may not be stellar musicians, but Mantas's riffs and solos still manage to be completely unforgettable, and though Abadon's drumming is sloppy, he still somehow manages to hold everything together. Some people simply need to shut up and give credit where it's due...Venom know how to rock, and nothing more is really required. Although the music itself is superbly energetic and thus can be taken seriously and honestly loved, there is an obvious tongue in cheek and humorous nature to Venom's approach, something in many ways integral to a lot of rock n roll, which metal generally has abandoned in favour of melodramatic antics, in lyrics, presentation and music itself even. Venom are different in the sense that one can tell they don't really take all this satan shit too seriously; they're just out to have a good time, drink loads of beer and fuck loads of women, while creating some killer hard rock (I use the term in the general sense, since this is definitely metal) music in the process. a friend of mine once described Cronos as the perfect "british redneck", and here especially, as well, no doubt, as in his solo works which I haven't yet had the pleasure of hearing, this is really evident. One has to read the lyrics to "teacher's pet", or "Acid Queen" with a chuckle and go along for the ride, perhaps gaining as much enjoyment out of listening to this as the band clearly has in performing it. This is a landmark album, without a doubt. Even if it is rather remote from today's "black metal scene", one need only listen to the first two Bathory albums to see just how large of an impact it has made. Anyway, forget the influence on the black metal subgenre. None of that matters. What is relevant is that this album is so killer, it will never be far from your stereo, the songs never far from your head and the lyrics always waiting to be shouted out, with careless and unfetterred glee. Hail Satan!

Lay down your souls to the gods rock and roll!!!! - 77%

UltraBoris, December 30th, 2002

This album is so fucking raw and so unpolished that they managed to not wipe away ANY of the original fury that makes this band so damn enjoyable in the first place. Technical proficiency? I think not. Just decently memorable songwriting for the most part, and a raw performance that usually comes through only on a band's live albums. When this album gets going, it is fast-as-fuck over-the-top speed metal that would make a corpse headbang.

Highlights... the title track of course, and also "Raise the Dead", "Blood Lust", and "Leave Me in Hell". All of those are speed-metal classics: Motorhead turned evil. And who can forget "Die Hard"!! What a way to close the album!

Complaints - well, it's not all THAT consistent... some of the songs are kinda boring, like "Buried Alive", and some of them sound just a bit similar to each other. For the most part, it is the faster songs that are interesting, and it is a good thing that the album is dominated by them.

Also, some of the choruses are just a bit lame, i.e. "To Hell! And Back!" but the idea of putting the fast riffs under the verses and solidly keeping them there makes a whole fuckload of sense. For 1982, this is really fucking brutal stuff - no holding back, this album is 100% heavy 100% of the time (it is quite surprising how few bands manage to accomplish that!).