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Time That Could Have Been Better Wasted - 61%

bayern, March 29th, 2018

I couldn’t care less when Cronos left his comrades after the divisive “Calm Before the Storm” as I was one of the few metal heads in my hometown who never became very fond of the fathers of black metal and their rowdy exploits. It wasn’t a big deal at all as something had to happen in the band’s camp since they were losing it way before an actual threat (the grunge/groove/industrial wave) had even started looming on the horizon; and a next very probable step seemed to be a real cold lake… sorry, shower poured over the more or less disillusioned fanbase…

Thankfully, such a horrifying scenario was postponed, and also permanently erased as it became evident later, as the band pulled themselves together, not without the help of Mantas who decided to return for at least one more spell. It looked like the good old Venom, only without Cronos of course, and Tony Dolan aka the Demolition Man from Atomkraft filling in the vacated position behind the mike, the ship was ready to enter 90’s waters. And it did, first with the quite convincing “Prime Evil” where finally full-fledged thrash was the order of the way; then with the marginally weaker and mellower, but still entertaining “Temples of Ice”.

Chapter III from the Dolan series was the album reviewed here that is perhaps the only Venom release at that stage which had no expectations to fulfil whatsoever: the new vogues were already a fact, 80’s veterans were shedding their skin left and right, the interest in their feats was fading fast... In other words, the “anything goes” spirit was running rampant freeing the musicians from any obligations to audience, critics, and even themselves. In this train of thought albums released at that time shouldn’t be judged so harshly since without any tension to keep the band members on their toes, the level of song-writing and compositional execution had dropped way beyond the masterpiece-level standards… and fast.

Not that Venom were ever anywhere near those standards, even during their more successful early years, but at the same time it’s hard to point at any album they’ve released as an actual flop despite the number of fans who swear by the mentioned “Calm Before the Storm” as being one... No, not really, and the one here isn’t either although it’s far from a glorious epitaph to the Tony Dolan period. Like the previous instalment already suggested, thrash isn’t the ruling force here anymore as the band have obviously had their fun with it and were more interested in producing larger-than-life stylistic amalgams either because of a lack of ideas, or due to their decision to join the “anything goes” carnival… as the latter option was definitely better than a prime “evil” groove/aggro tribute.

No, this opus here steers clear from such shite for most of the time and walks its own path, for better or worse, the guys throwing a monstrous doom metal opus (the 8-min “Cursed”) at the beginning which later evolves further with more dynamic semi-galloping strokes, but remains on the dark brooding, atmospheric side with haunting keyboard tunes adding more to the instilled strangeness. If the band have suddenly decided to follow their compatriots Cathedral and My Dying Bride down the doomy road, then this newly epitomized approach, based on the opener alone, doesn’t look so shabby at all, but “I'm Paralysed” is a short frolic speedster, the total opposite to the infernal seriousness of the preceding number. So much for conquering the doomy throne “Black Legions” delineating the album further from the officiant, also ambitious, start being a power/speedy merry-go-rounder influencing “Riddle of Steel”, another brief speed metal-ish hymn.

From doom to Atomkraft as this last couple of tracks quite resembles the style of Dolan’s older act, but before the once intimidating stalwarts turn to meek copycats arrives “Need to Kill” which brings back the thrash with angrier, more belligerent riffs although the latter are stifled in the second half by the downbeat quiet finale. “Kissing the Beast” carries on with the speed metal fiesta, a brisk invigorating piece with even a mosh-stirring potential the accumulated inertia killed immediately with the mild heavy rocker “Crucified”, with “Shadow King” doing very little to make things right being just a bit more energetic heavy/power metal anthem. “Wolverine” is a brave attempt at capturing some magic from the band’s early recordings with boisterous thrashy rhythms, but again, without a distinct follow-up it can only do as much as “Clarisse” is a tender lyrical ballad with Dolan semi-reciting throughout, livening up towards the end for a more upbeat heavy epitaph.

A very mixed bag as a whole failing to convince anyone that the Dolan chapter should be prolonged any further as the guys had seemingly exhausted their creative resources by that point, throwing everything into the melting pot as a last resort, befuddling the fans as to what they should expect from this effort: doom, thrash, speed, power, hard rock, or a dubious amalgam of all those styles that the final result had turned out. The seeping gothic atmosphere from the opener was again way more preferable than any grungy/alternative deviations, but mixed with the nearly jocund speedy flair exhibited right after it doesn’t hold water for long as the band were obviously not so fond of keeping it around… It’s tough to tell what they were fond of at the time, to be honest, except of the already mentioned “anything goes” stance. And even if that was the case the English veterans could hardly be considered among its more capable practitioners as the stylistic meanderings here were too arbitrary and inconsecutive to fully disguise the creative cul-de-sac the band were heading towards.

Yes, the treacherous wastelands into which the 90’s swiftly turned into spared no one… regardless of whether you were parading as a most enthusiastic groove/post-thrash advocate or were spitting heroically at the new vogues with bouts of old school metallisms. In order to make heads turn during those times, an old veteran had to produce a minor sensation, like an unheralded reunion with a departed band member, for instance… It worked for Merciful Fate, it worked for Accept, it had to work for the fathers of black metal, for crying out loud… And it did, albeit for one isolated stint (“Cast in Stone”) as by the time of “Resurrection” three years later Abaddon, the only permanent member at that stage, was gone. Mantas followed suit shortly after leaving Cronos the sole remainder of the once glorious power trio…

Quite a saga we have on our hands, with more or less expected twists and turns, and one that goes on till this day, having recently acquired a double-edge status, the new edge named Venom Inc., logically featuring the other two from the original line-up, Mantas and Abaddon that is, plus guess who… Tony Dolan of course! The Demolition Man is back in action the two fractions having already started to vehemently race each other, leaving the fans guessing as to when a potential merger would take place…maybe at the next wastelands’ expansion? With Cronos on the bass, and Dolan behind the mike…

Walk through the passages of endless nights - 86%

Felix 1666, August 17th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1992, CD, Under One Flag

I very much regret this, Cronos, but I have to tell you something: I really enjoy the Venom albums that feature your temporary successor, "The Demolition Man" Tony Dolan. If he would have been the original vocalist of the British black metal pioneers, I would certainly prefer his voice, although I like the unconventional vocals of Cronos, too. But so I am undecided. However, the main reason why I appreciate relatively unknown albums like "The Waste Lands" is definitely the music as a whole. The strong vocal performance is just one component of this.

In view of their early outputs, Venom were hardly recognizable anymore. Black metal was no longer on the agenda. The songs tended towards the dark side of thrash metal without neglecting atmospheric moments. Apart from that, the pieces offered a different songwriting formula due to their clearly designed structure. The chaotic times were gone. This development led among others to the fact that they had recruited a keyboarder for this album. Yes, you have read it correctly, a keyboarder. This guy got to work immediately. He was responsible for the intro of the opener which was a prime example for their compositional approach during that period. Feeble tones that seemingly came from beyond led to a fairly oriental riff. It matched with the lyrics about ancient Arabian kings in a masterful manner. The feeling of being lost in the desert was intensified by the instrumental part after the second chorus. Once again, our friend on keyboards took the lead...although this opener was not very harsh, it constituted a good start, but it was surpassed by the following three crushing tracks. Venom, in particular Abaddon, pressed the pedal to the metal while the guitarists presented riffs that were without exception excellent. The catchy choruses did the rest. Even after more than 20 years, this amazing triple strike gets my blood racing. The outstanding compositions sound still fresh. If the band had put these songs on a 12", this single would have deserved a rating of 100 percent, at least in my opinion. But as you may have guessed, the following tunes did not achieve this ultimate level. "Wolverine" came closest to these three highlights. It thrived on a belligerent attitude due to its aggressive riffing.

For the full picture, two further songs have to be mentioned. They presented Venom from quite a different aspect. The craggy "Need to Kill" was dominated by very catchy drums and its rhythmical drawn-out outro sounded like it had been recorded in a metalworking company. However, this industrialized approach remained an isolated case. Even more astonishing was the final number of this full-length. The lyrics of "Clarisse" referred to the novel "The Silence of the Lambs" which was written by Thomas Harris. The composition itself proved to be a ballad with a subliminal psychotic approach. It is not among my favourite pieces, but at the same time it was a successful experiment. It seemed like Venom greatly enjoyed playing with the expectations of their fans. This already started with the cover. Just have a look at the colouring, the motif and the design. The minimalistic booklet admitted also no conclusions on the style of the music. Unfortunately, the band used a very ordinary band logo for the first and final time, but this was only a blemish. However, all that remained irrelevant due to the fact that the songs were successfully performed and the album was expertly produced. My advise is that fans of authentic, darkened thrash metal should spend some time listening to this record. You will not miss Cronos.

Hidden treasure!!! - 85%

prometeus, August 19th, 2009

A very fucking rare masterpiece, which costs up to over 100 bucks, stands here to be reviewed: 10 Venom tracks that must be heard, at least one time, by every fan of the band.

I split the album in two: a part with the experimental tracks; the other, with the more traditional ones. The experimental one has keyboards, samples ("Cursed") and even industrial effects (thanks to Abbadon and V.X.S. - as you can hear in "Need to kill"). Spoken voices and cheesy clean guitars are not excluded ("Clarisse"). A transition track can be found: "Black Legions", which has a background noise (probably people), during Dolan's bass solo. The lyrical approach is very diverse, singing about pyramids, Terminator and a woman (?). Don't be disappointed! The satanic lyrics are not abandoned.

Reviewing the "traditional" ones, I must say that this is also a diverse one, but you can still pick the best cuts easily. "Wolverine", for me, is the best on the album, being intense, fast, thrash–y and well executed. It has everything you want from Venom (Cronos just couldn't handle the song!!!). Second place is received by "Kissing the Beast", although this is just a shadow of "Wolverine". The rest of the album is not an attempt to overdue "Wolverine": it has a charm of its own, from the anthem–ic lyrics of "Riddle of Steel", the more melodious "Crucified", to the more average, but still good tracks "Shadow King" and "I'm Paralyzed".

The musicianship is strong, but a tension between the band members exists. Mantas did his best on guitars and, with the assistance of Steve White, they did a great job, pulling off riffs and solos memorable and original, while retaining the Venom sound. Dolan outdid his vocal performance from "Prime Evil" and still manage to pull off some good bass solos and lines. I'm more impressed of how Abbadon managed to improve his skills, even doing blast beats, and, together with V.X.S., manage to do a great job on "Need To Kill", a Terminator-fan song, which has a drums-samples duo, that adds a little chilly atmosphere, although Darkthrone and Immortal manage to outdo it the same year in their own style.

Finally, I want to say that THIS was the last original Venom album ever to surface. Mantas left to pursue his martial arts dreams, having already a martial arts gym; Dolan entered the big and small screens, both disillusioned by the greedy Abbadon and the band's manager that kept most of the money for them selves. It was 1993 and a new and refreshing wave of black metal bands (although I don't consider Venom as a former/present black metal band). From now onwards, Venom will reunite and disband for about 3 times (1995 - 2002, 2005), before the final reunion from 2005. Things will never be the same again.

Venom's most unknown album... - 79%

cronosmantas, March 27th, 2005

Out of all 10 Venom studio albums (Welcome to Hell through Resurrection), The Waste Lands seems to be the album that people forget about. It doesn't help that this is by far the hardest album of theirs to obtain, but also that its not overally all that memorable. Not saying its bad, it just seems to fade from memory.

Unlike what seems to the majority of Venom "fans", I actually liked Tony Dolan on vocals. Yes I like Cronos but I'm not the kind of fan that will automatically write the band off just for the simple fact Cronos isn't on Vox. Check out Prime Evil, Dolan's first Vocal performance with the band. That was a tight, well constructed Venom thrash album. The second album with Dolan entitled Temples of Ice, wasn't so hot, but again it wasn't Dolan's fault. That album suffered from poor production and lackluster songs. The Waste Lands, Dolan's third and final performance with the band, improves a bit on Temples.

First of all, the songs are better. Cursed is one of those "atmospheric" but passable intros that leades up to the steller track I'm Paralized, one of the best on the CD. Wolverine, Kissing the Beast, and Riddel of Steel are some standout cuts. As a whole, the album isn't bad and is enjoyable, but like I said before, not memorable. It definitely won't knock you socks off, but for a thrash loving fanatic, this will garner a welcomed spot on any CD shelf, it's just a shame its so hard to obtain and some fans like me greatly want the Dolan era albums to be re-released. But since it seems that a great number of fickle Venom fans don't like the Dolan releases and that Cronos is now the only remaining original Venom member now in the group, rereleases of these forgotten albums doesn't look to bright....