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Slow-Acting Antivenom - 60%

doomknocker, February 17th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2015, CD, Spinefarm Records U.K.

Where would we be without this group of British brutes? How would countless millions have faired without the crude, blurry blueprints of black and death metal drawn up at the dawn of the 80s? And who would have thought that some blokes just making intentionally controversial noise (while not being all that proficient at their instruments...they really weren't back then, admit it) could have had such a gigantic impact? But I don't have to tell you that, now do I? Nope, I'm here, instead, to see what the legendary trio has been up to in the past year or so, with this being the result...

Now I've not exactly been the biggest Venom fan in the world (in fact, I'm not all that keen on the required listens for what they're worth...), so as it stands individually "From the Very Depths" certainly has its fair share of bite mixed with a seriously old school vibe, that indescribable force that's felt but can't be explained all that well. Still maintaining the feel of "The Devil's Motorhead" yet still being as Venomous as they've ever been, this kind of material doesn't warrant any sort of deep-seeking or thinking, oh no sirree...everything about "From the Very Depths" is delightfully two-dimensional, straightforward and, above all else, rockin'. Songs are easy to get into, not too simple as to be bored with it yet not so complicated as to require a compass to progress. But that's always been the name of the game with Cronos and Co.; straight jacking right in your fool face from every possible avenue and every possible steel-clad fist. Vocals are snarly and twisted, guitars have a smooth rustiness to them, the bass has a slightly distorted bite and the drums maintain a clean and clear punch able to cut through everything else with plenty of power yet not a whole lot of depth to the percussive lines. And when it all comes together things are, for the most part, dark, dingy and plentifully heavy, but occasionally a fun, almost jaunty tune comes your way (the verse progressions of "Stigmata Satanas" get the feet a'tappin', surprisingly enough, as does the harmonic lead section of "Wings of Valkyrie".).

It's quite noticeable that the band had, at least, a jolly ol' time bringing these tunes to musical flesh, and if nothing else this could be the brightest shining moment from end to end. I say this because, as the album progresses, the apparent sense of creative fun ends up ebbing in favor of a "been there, done that" sensation, curious to know where else the music can go and not really getting that kind of reward or payoff. From about "Crucified" onward, they're not really paving new roads or treading undiscovered territory either, and many of the songs run through a similar tempo and arrangement scheme, though not exactly ripping each other off outside of maintaining that singular sense of meter and speed. That tends to make the second half of the album drag on as you hope for something new to let you have it outside of the occasional different shift in focus ("Ouverture" is a nice deterrence, however, with its trippy, stroll-through-a-film-noir-city-at-night atmosphere, and the live(?) track "Rise" has energy to spare). So if nothing else, prospective listeners could very well get a kick out of the first half before the fuel begins to run out.

So ultimately, "From the Very Depths" is, at the very least, entertaining and competently performed, and as far as Venom goes it's definitely one of their tighter efforts, but the simplisticism and lack of dynamics tends to get stale the further in you go. But I guess just take it for what it is and you may find a tune or two worth your time. Maybe.