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Nyuck Nyuck! - 41%

GuntherTheUndying, February 21st, 2015

Pointing out that Venom zoomed past the last exit to relevancy years ago is like telling your neighbor he can save fifteen percent or more on his car insurance by switching to GEICO—everybody knows that. Venom has been striding contentedly in mediocrity since “Metal Black,” a dull piece that was underwhelming compared to even the group’s lesser works like “Resurrection” or the tolerable “Cast in Stone.” Albums like “Hell” and “Fallen Angels” seemed to have been made just to remind the world that Venom was still a band, in case you had endured a traumatic head injury and suffered from transient global amnesia. Cronos, the last remaining member of Venom’s golden years after Mantas and Abaddon jumped ship once the joys of their reunion had run dry, continues puffing out more prosaic stuff in the vein of latter-day Venom on “From the Very Depths.” After listening to it several times, I’m convinced Venom’s ineptitude is now the size of Satan’s penor.

I can’t deride the performances. Cronos and the other musicians have some heat to give off; Cronos’ barks are sharp, and guitarist Rage has decent solos plastered everywhere. But “From the Very Depths” is ruined from side to side because the large components continue to fan the flames of the group’s stodgy post-reunion direction. The lax, predictable texture of second-rate thrash metal anthems and the ample amount of mid-paced numbers continue to be the two tricks in the book. Here, the riffs and motifs they’ve been regurgitating for years are staler than ever; Venom’s beating of the dead horse seems like the only option. The lyrics are more of the same: I’m guessing Cronos gets his ideas by pulling scraps of paper upon which evil themes and metal clichés were jotted down out of a hat to come up with song titles like “Long Haired Punks” and “Evil Law.”

Venom was never revered for exceptional songwriting—even the twenty-minute “At War with Satan” retained the raw, sloppy signature of the Venom moniker. However, the trio had a sort of charm to its disorderly rampages that is missing here. “From the Very Depths” comes off as a clean record, its sound quality echoing the polished drum and guitar textures of most metal projects in 2015. Yet the group is continuing to heave out traditional Venom cuts that try to conjure up the grit and raw fury of “Welcome to Hell” and “Black Metal.” The times have caught up to Venom, and the frenzied style that made the band’s first few records masterpieces is rendered obsolete by tracks that are too predictable, too clinical, too uneventful, too bland to savor the flavor.

“Temptation” is especially a chore to sit through, what with the shoddy mid-paced riffs stopping and starting and Cronos shouting the song title ad nauseam. “Stigmata Satanas” and “Mephistopheles” suffer from similar symptoms, two insipid groove-laden flops in an album of mostly underwhelming moments. The Motörhead vibe of “The Death of Rock ‘n’ Roll” is enjoyable, and its brief spells of nostalgia are acceptable, but “From the Very Depths” is mostly a vapid listen. The fact that it lasts for over fifty minutes makes the experience far too fattening for its own good, and I think I wouldn’t have let this one slide even if it had come with two complimentary harlots from Hell. Hey, one could say Venom has fallen to the very depths! Nyuck nyuck!

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