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Built up to be much, much more - 75%

cronosmantas, March 1st, 2006

1996 was built up to be a big year for metal as it was the reunion of the original three members of Venom: Cronos, Mantas, and Abaddon. With Venom broke up after the Demolition Man years and Cronos’s solo band failing, it was actually perfect time for a reunion. They kicked off the re-union with a killer tour with Slayer and the band introduced a good new song called The Evil One. Unfortunately the album that resulted wasn’t the grand reunion everyone was hoping for.

The album opens with the song The Evil One, and like I mentioned before, it’s a good song. It’s a slower, more foreboding track. Raised in Hell and All Devil’s Eve are more reminiscent of Venom of old but sadly both songs clock in Under 3 minutes. Bleeding follows and it’s a rather lame track. This time however the short running time is for the listener as the lame song is over with rather fast.

After Bleeding comes the real shocker, a song called Destroyed and Damned. The first half of this song actually played off as a balled. What the fuck!? Venom playing a ballad? Well, sort of as half way through it kicks into a thrash metal assault. Good song and an interesting experiment for the band. The next track Doomus Mundi would also be an experimental song. This time it has the band experiment with industrial sounds. WTF?! This is no doubt the result of Abaddon as he left the band after this album to start his solo Industrial band. He actually remade the song for his 2000 solo album I Am Legion except the song was re-titled Hollow Voices. I didn’t mind the song but no doubt most Venom fans will be left scratching their heads.

Flight of the Hydra and God’s Forsaken are decent thrash tracks, but after that the album takes a real noise dive. Every song after that is basically filler. That’s the problem with an album with 14 tracks as there is bound to be filler; there just seems to be more than usual on this album.

Another problem with the album is the production. Sure it’s better sounding then their first albums, but still at this time in their career, Venom should be getting top notch production like Slayer. The production just sounds half-assed as if they wanted to get this album recorded and releases as fast as possible.

Some versions of this album also came with a bonus disc called “Classics Re-Recorded” with some old Venom songs re-recorded with “better” production. Is this an attempt to make up for the lacks of the new album itself or is it just the band rewarding their die hard fans? The more I listen to the album, the more I lean towards the first part of the question.

Ironically I actually preferred some of Venom albums with Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan and Cronos’s solo releases as opposed to this. This reunion album also cancelled the release of Cronos’s third solo album Triumvirate which is a shame as it would have probably been better than this. Thankfully Venom returned (without Abaddon) in 2000 to record the kickass album Resurrection which makes me a little more forgiving on Cast in Stone.