Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2024
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Privacy Policy

Venom > Welcome to Hell > Reviews
Venom - Welcome to Hell

Truly An Essential Album - 90%

DanielG06, March 12th, 2022

Venom is probably the single most divisive band in metal, as half of the community seems to praise them as the founders of extreme metal, and the other half claims that the band is nothing more than a poor man's Motörhead who just happened to influence "true" black metal bands by having lyrics about satan. I strongly side with the former. This is because, if the music is analysed in the context of 1981, when the second heaviest band in the world was The Exploited or maybe Accept, it is undeniable that Venom was the very start of the more extreme metal, and I believe that they are the sole reason for the evolution of metal in the first place.

No band prior to this album had even tried pushing the boundaries past sounding like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest, and intentionally trying to make the music inaccessible was deemed exclusively counterproductive at the time. So why am I ranting about this on a review about Welcome To Hell? Because, this was the more important of two albums, including its successor, that led to the start of anything heavier than thrash metal in the first place.

Now, onto the music. It is very typical of 1981; there are many bluesy riffs and catchy use of chords in a very traditional NWOBHM style with a sound admittedly very similar to Motörhead, but Venom had something different in their music, something ground-breaking and entirely noticeable as soon as you press play; the production is awful, the playing is sloppy, the vocals are wretched and obnoxious, and the lyrics are juvenile, and it's amazing. I can't imagine how unique this would have sounded at the time, the fuzzy production makes the album crushingly heavy, and insanely powerful-sounding.

This is the reason why so many of the songs on this record are anthemic, from the title track to One Thousand Days In Sodom, Welcome To Hell churns out unforgettable hooks and stupidly badass riffs. The bass is way up front in the mix, which makes the music sound static-heavy and actually improves a lot of the more groove-oriented songs, namely Schizo, one of my personal favourites. The mixture of all of these aspects, from the reverb-heavy production to the snarling vocals from Cronos, and the legendary basslines, is what makes most of the tracklist on Welcome To Hell undeniable classics.

However, Venom also prove on this record that they can be dynamic when they want to, exemplified by the beautiful interlude, Mayhem With Mercy, which is mostly an acoustic guitar piece that is a nice bridge between Schizo and Poison. But after that, it's a straight run of classic songs that may be short, simplistic and formulaic, but it would be remiss to say that they aren't excellent. The drumming is average, but bear in mind that Venom isn't going for technicality with this album, if you didn't already notice. Specifically, the focus of the music is almost wholly on the aesthetic, which is what makes this record universally acclaimed and so special. This aesthetic had never been fully tried before.

As I stated earlier, Accept and Iron Maiden may have toyed around with songs about killing people, and Black Sabbath famously covered topics of black magic and war more than a decade before, but never before had a band completely delved into nothing but sex, blasphemy and debauchery, and Welcome To Hell shows that Venom perfected this on the first attempt. That alone justifies their praise over the years, and the music itself is catchy and to-the-point. In conclusion, it's understandable why people may not enjoy Venom's music, but this is the definitive start of bands pushing the boundaries, and therefore Welcome To Hell could arguably be the one album that caused most of the metal we listen to now to exist in the first place. The importance of this album both musically and aesthetically is something that must be respected.

Four decades of true blasphemy - 100%

gzusrocker, December 19th, 2021

It would be hard to say that what Black Sabbath recorded in the 70's was not heavy metal, given the circumstances and, of course, the heavy and dark sound, unheard of at the time. In the same way, it is difficult to discredit the black metal label to Venom, given the musical lineage that was constituted through the sound of the English band, a blueprint to so many extreme acts. Of course, listening to an album like “Welcome to Hell” without having any explicit reference to the impact and influence this record had on the extreme metal scene, one could say it's a dirtier and more sinful version of Motörhead, allied to high doses of a kind of thrash metal in its embryonic stage.

All of this is true at the same time, however. Venom's sound is not far or radically different from what was practiced in British heavy metal at the time. There's a lot of Motörhead going on here, but also a lot of other things coming out of the so-called New Wave of British Heavy Metal. However, I believe that art and therefore music are much more than black and white. In fact, there is an unhealthy amount of anachronism in the categorization of Venom as a proto-thrash band and not a black metal one, based on two musical movements that only settled into their final form years after the recording of the first two seminal works by the English trio.

All that said, there is as much evidence as possible that this one, albeit not as much as its successor, is a black metal record like any other. There's not all that standard second wave musical format, but the dirtiness, the sense of freedom or "I do what I want and fuck it", the clumsy and muddy production, the musicality filled with an aggressiveness made of no big frills, the theme of the lyrics, the use of sinister aliases for the band members and, of course, the live performance, all these things are right here for anyone who wants to see. I myself was one among many purists who failed to intertwine Venom with “contemporary” black metal, even though I already recognized its immense importance. However, as my musical mentality matured and I saw the internal aspects of the art that are not so superficial, I realized that I was being anachronistic and excessively methodical.

And does the music quality justify the legendary status of this album? I would say yes, even though I'm not the biggest fan of lo-fi productions or even the more “edgy satanist” scene of major black metal. However, as with so many bands I listen to and are exceptions to these personal tastes, the rawness and shock value that exist in “Welcome to Hell” work surprisingly well. There is a vitality that transcends the record's almost lack of musical technique. It's such an immensely fun album to listen to, with catchy riffs and simple but effective leads. The drums have a rudimentary but extremely fitting technique in the sonic aura of the album as a whole. And what about Cronos's thundering and extremely distorted bass? Well, the same thing we can say about his vocal performance: barely technical, but with loads of attitude and presence.

Each of the album's eleven tracks follows more or less the same formula: a hybrid between vintage garage rock 'n' roll and seminal, extremely rough British heavy metal style, all done with spectacular energy. This set Venom apart from other bands in the scene. It's as if they've taken the entire surrounding atmosphere and thickened every particle of it, resulting in a sinister wave of pure metal, in its most hedonistic and uncompromising form. It's the kind of sound that, by being so bad, it's actually great. Something so vibrant and filled with a contagious spirit of youthful rebellion that it can't go unnoticed. Of course, today you can listen to the most modern metal bands and prefer their neatest and most frivolous way of making heavy music, their exotic time signatures, their dissonant way of playing, the philosophical depth of their lyrics. I myself like some great bands that fit that formula. However, it's nearly impossible to be a die-hard metal fan and not be completely swept away by "Welcome to Hell" and its infectious journey to the gates of Hades, the kind of thing we need in order to remind ourselves why most of us came to love that kind of music to begin with.

New Wave of BLACK Heavy Metal - 79%

TrooperEd, March 6th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2002, CD, Castle Music (Reissue, Remastered, Slipcase, US)

Any music critic who dares to take himself seriously must acknowledge the impact, influence and quality of early Venom's music. Without this album, it's follow up Black Metal, and bits and pieces of the two after that, so called "extreme metal" would not exist. End of argument. Period. Finito.

Yet, as important as it is to extreme metal, I always classified Venom under the New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement. In terms of songwriting, there really isn't that much of a structural difference between this and say, the Angel Witch debut, the Iron Maiden debut and all the other cornerstones of the movement. There is still very much a rock & roll feel to this album. It just so happens to be stretched to what was perceived to be the absolute limit within those parameters. What was once way out there becomes normal, so you push out further, lather, rinse, repeat.

Nonetheless, Welcome to Hell is simply too historically important to not be considered black metal or even thrash metal. Not quite death metal, we would need the likes of Celtic Frost, the German thrash scene and Slayer before that branch of the tree can hang on its own. Not to mention that it's the lack of technical proficiency that gives this a darker edge over most of the classic heavy metal albums that were emerging from 1979-1981. To Venom's credit, the sloppiness never derails any of the momentum of the tracks with regard to tempo. On the other hand, while I'm by no means a guitar wizard, I can't help but imagine quite a few Dream Theater techies viewing the approach of Mantas (and Cronos) as the equivalent of taking your own feces and blood and smearing it all over themselves and the walls. But hey, fuck em. Breaking the rules used to be a good thing in metal.

Highlights include Witching Hour, a seminal, violent, fast hellspawn cry that no doubt annoyed Lemmy to no end with whisperings of "is Motorhead going to be dethroned as the baddest band in the land?" But don't be thinking that for all of Venom's bluster they were only a one speed band. One Thousand Days of Sodom and In Nomine Satanas (a non-album single that should be on most remastered versions) are midpaced demonic political rallies, with Count Cronos, Vampire Supreme rallying the troops with a plan of attack to be carried out when all hell breaks loose. There are some deviations from the theme, such as odes to prostitution and angel dust, which the likes of Varg and Euronymous probably didn't appreciate in the middle of their seances. But dare I say, that these "other" songs (and yes I include Teacher's Pet here) gave early Venom an edge that allowed the listeners to meditate over earthly pleasures in addition to unearthly ones whilst sitting Indian style in the center of the pentagram.

While perhaps not the most entertaining album of 1981 (the practice of releasing better songs as non-album singles and slight redundancies keep this from getting in the mid 80s), Welcome To Hell was unquestionably the most transformative. These days it will appeal the most to thrashers. If you think you're extreme and you don't own this, you're not.

It's Witching Hour! - 95%

psychoticnicholai, January 20th, 2018

Fierce, filthy, and full of blasphemy and overboard metal attitude, Welcome to Hell by Venom was a landmark change for metal in the early 1980s since it laid out the grittier side of the new wave of British heavy metal and brought a lot more dirt into metal as a whole, laying out a style of evil, thrashing motion, and grit that laid the groundwork for everyone from Metallica and Anthrax, to the Melvins, and of course... laying out the foundation for black metal. However, Venom were really far from black metal, more so establishing the rough production standards and obsession with Satan rather than the actual black metal sound. What we get on here is a lot like Motörhead, but nastier and more dedicated to an occult image. The music contained within is a series of catchy pieces of sleazy, crunching metal that snags you and swings you into the fire. There may be nastier and more evil bands nowadays, but there's no denying the strength of Welcome to Hell since it sill maintains a lot of its grimy crunch and signature songs to this day.

Welcome to Hell was pretty much an excessive jump into the low-down outlaw image that metal had cultivated for itself in the 70s and early 80s. Sex, murder, and devil worship are the lyrical topics and they're paired with a very raw, bassy, distorted guitar sound and a gravel-throated vocalist with an "I do as I want, piss off!" kind of attitude that really sells the "demonic outlaw" persona established on here. The songs are often fast and crunchy, but also catchy in a way that almost makes you want to hum the lyrics out to yourself despite being fairly evil and nasty with their tone. It's almost insidious how songs like "Welcome to Hell" thrash about, songs like "Poison" swing about, or songs like "One Thousand Days in Sodom" march along while maintaining a catchy backbone beneath the rotten muscle of in-your-face riffing from Mantas. The whole thing is rowdy with a level of reckless abandon and grit that was uncommon at the time, mixing even more punk into the metal than obvious forebears like Motörhead. This was loaded with more scummy infernal grit rather than the biker-esque roughness of Motörhead. This hit lower and harder than before.

This is the kind of stuff that leaps onto you and knocks you around with a chaotic rhythm, a level of malice that was unusual for the time, and a level of sleaze that's still pretty intense even today. Every song is a headbanging frenzy with blunt riffing that's perfect for getting people's feet moving and bodies slamming into each other. The rhythm grips you and isn't afraid to punch and shove. Welcome to Hell is consistently dark, dirty, and ready to pounce with the sound being noticeably ugly and mean. It upped the ante on how filthy metal could be and stood out from most British metal bands in 1980 simply for their filth. Even today, the combination of grit, chaos, and catchiness make this a rumbling classic with iconic songs throughout its playing time. From the fast-paced, bar-brawling body-blows of "Sons of Satan" to the intoxicated swaying of "In League With Satan" and beyond, there's plenty of corrupting signature tunes on here. Yeah, the lyrics are obvious, goofy pseudo-satanism, but they make for a lot of memorable lines and quips snarled out by Cronos such as "live like an angel die like a devil, got a place in hell reserved for me" or any line from "In League With Satan". Welcome to Hell has the right balance of catch, kick, and pure scumminess to keep its strength and status throughout the years.

Welcome to Hell makes Venom's intentions of delivering demonic sleaze to the masses very clear. This is a mean, rumbling piece of raw heavy metal with a passion for sin with catchy songwriting, insidious over-the-top lyrics, and buzzing crusty guitars with a strong low end and gnarled, mean riffs that use the nastiness of this album's production to its advantage to wrap all of this together into a rowdy infernal romp that gets its points across with each memorable song. It's also influential for getting a lot of metal bands on board with the idea of using punk-like gritty production to further accent their heaviness and menace. Every song leaves an impact and even though this isn't anywhere remotely near some massive opus, it's thoroughly enjoyable throughout without fail and with plenty of punkish demonic filth in each belting song.

Chaos - 75%

Felix 1666, May 12th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1981, 12" vinyl, Neat Records (Limited edition, Picture disc)

Jesus Christ was only 33 years old when he was nailed to the cross. Venom´s debut has been released 34 years ago, but the band is still standing strong. It seems as if this is the ultimate Satanic victory. But appearances are deceptive. The British ruffians were actors in a devilish game, no more, no less. What really counts is the fact that the group has become an institution. This sounds very formally. But as you probably know, the first deeds of Venom did not fit into any kind of format. The omnipresent "do what thou wilt" maxime led to a crude and raw mix. But far more than that, this debut was truly innovative. Maybe it was that kind of innovation nobody had been waiting for. Nevertheless, Venom had proved their pioneer spirit. This deserved our respect...

...although the music itself did not convince in every aspect. Due to the newcomer status of the unorthodox formation, it came as no surprise that some of the songs lacked of coherence and maturity. But Venom had also written a couple of gripping tracks that unleashed a sonic storm of destruction. Despite its gargantuan heaviness, "Poison" was well accessible. Its traditional song pattern appeared as the counterweight to the controversial sound which was focused on darkness and evil. Venom chose the same song formula for the fantastic "In League with Satan". The vocals - with a lot of reverb on it - and the humming main riff created a discomforting mood. Nevertheless, this track took another path. Less offensive, but maliciously crawling like a poisonous snake and equipped with a very simple yet extremely sinister chorus. The characterising drum rhythm could also not be ignored. It reminded me of an Indian war drum. Abaddon was probably not the most talented drummer, but he fulfilled his task in an effective manner. This was Venom at its best.

The massive spectacle had its ups and downs. For example, the roaring opener did not lack of noisy intensity, but unfortunately, this remained its only significant feature. "Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)" was based upon a riff which had been too dirty for Motörhead. But this alone was not enough and the song failed to deliver a tight chorus. Generally speaking, some details did not fit together. The songwriting skills were not yet fully developed and this circumstance led to a certain number of crude breaks. I do not want to exclude that some of them were probably intended. Nevertheless, this was not the kind of song configuration that I highly appreciated. Additionally, I have to make the critical comment that the solos of Mantas did not enrich the songs. He just seemed to improvise disharmonic tone sequences. But I have to watch out that I do not give the wrong impression. In view of doubtlessly strong songs like "One Thousand Days in Sodom" (sluggish verses, dynamic chorus) or "Witching Hour" (dangerous bass tones at the beginning, afterwards up-tempo sections), this debut indicated the numerous options of the bellicose three-piece. Furthermore, we have to consider that this debut gave the starting signal for a musical - or unmusical... - revolution, which we all enjoy.

Finally, let me specify the description of the sound. The bass guitar of Cronos played definitely an important role. As a result, the sound did not lack of depth. As if that were not enough, it delivered this strange mix of eye-catching Satanism, anti-social behaviour and indecent fun. I am not sure whether Jesus Christ would have loved this debut. But I will ask him exactly this question as soon as possible. Do not forget that he is always good for a surprise. Just think of all these catastrophes and wars on earth, although his disciples say that he loves us. Really astonishing. In this light, "Welcome to Hell" constitutes an interesting option.

The First Is Still The Best! - 95%

metalguy69, December 19th, 2011

Venom's Welcome To Hell, what can I say about this album that hasn’t been said before. Upon listening to Welcome To Hell, you can’t help not believe that these guys must have deliberately set out to provoke a lot of raised eyebrows and dropped jaws, as if to set the metal world on its fucking ear, to create product engineered to shock, both musically, vocally, and lyrically, perhaps feeling that the current heavy music scene needed a serious shake-up. I imagine this to be sort of like sneaking into a dance club, overtaking the DJ booth, and throwing on something like (insert your favorite extreme metal track here) and watching and enjoying the reaction and resulting chaos from the dance floor. This album and of course the band were so loud, dirty, and raw, they were irresistible, yet at the same time you cannot help but pick up the feeling that Venom were having a great time unleashing their pent up musical and lyrical debauchery as no one had ever done before them (note Cronos’ scream of ‘Whoooooo hooo!!' near the end of the first track, implying a party atmosphere).

You either love this album or you’re disgusted by it and I’m sure Venom must have understood this, too. I myself love it because it is so disgusting. In my high school days I relished the disgusted look on the faces of those trendy ‘Duran-Duran’-adoring chicks after I would proudly proclaim the ‘coolness’ of Venom. There is no way these guys took any of this Satan stuff seriously. The photos from the artwork of this album make it clear that they loved to goof off (the prototypical version of their logo here even looks quite cartoon-ish). This is in stark contrast to later ‘black’ bands such as Mayhem, who apparently took their name from the track ‘Mayhem with Mercy’, yet ironically went on to take this devil worship stuff very seriously and literally. No sir, Venom were three lovable guys having fun watching the music scene’s reaction resulting from this exercise, all in good ‘evil’ fun of course.

I myself was originally raised on 70’s hard rock such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath etc. and when bands such as Venom appeared the very early 80’s, I really didn’t know what to make of them. In fact, it admittedly took time to digest and accept this new wave of extreme metal in general (including thrash, black, death etc.) to the point where it now feels just as natural to me as the 70’s classics did back then. Up to this day, I have never heard ‘extreme’ and over-the-top music this loud, this sharp, and this distorted and I couldn’t imagine it being any different. I still prefer the particular unique unrestrained hard-edged rasp bassist Cronos has on this one, the first ‘evil’ vocal style ever!. Welcome To Hell is in a league of its own, even compared to ‘Black Metal’ or especially later Venom recordings. Keep in mind that Cronos himself was only 18 or thereabouts when the album was made, which makes it even more intriguing.

The instrumentation in general is exactly as described in the back cover i.e. chainsaw guitar, bulldozer bass...well maybe 'nuclear warheads’ is a bit of an exaggeration. Listening to it reasonably loud, particularly through headphones can quite literally give the listener a splitting headache. Mantas’ buzzsaw guitar literally cuts through your skull, in which case it’s a good idea to have a couple of Tylenol (or equivalent pain killers) on hand after your listening session. Despite the razor-sharp sonic quality that sounds like it’s oozed out of the slimy depths of hell, the remarkable thing about this album is that the lyrics are surprisingly clear and decipherable throughout. I pretty much had the words memorized quite accurately well before I read an actual lyric sheet.

Overall, the bulk of the songs sound very dirty, thick, and intense as if the guitar fed through a chain of distortion boxes and were played to the amplifier’s breaking point, which I hazard to guess is something Mantas must have been the first to try. Not counting “Mayhem With Mercy’, almost all the tracks have that thick, concentrated, near-monophonic production except ‘Live Like An Angel…’ and ‘In League With Satan’, which actually sound more, shall we say, ‘stereophonic’. The drums sound quite up-front and ambient. Abaddon does not sound as bad as some may think, but then perhaps any mistakes he makes are probably often drowned out of Mantas’ razor- sharp guitar and Cronos’ bass. The interplay between the guitar and bass are highly notable for giving the album its ultra-heavy and murky feel, best described as sort of like hot lava slowly bubbling towards the surface. Cronos’ bass playing style is very unique and integral to the album’s sound and cannot be described in words. The guitar chords are hard to distinguish at first, but gradually emerge through with repeated listens. When finally obvious, the chord progressions are simple, yet very catchy. For lack of better words, I have to say the sound has a sort of bastardized ‘rock and roll-ish’ feel to it, as I personally consider the realm of ‘heavy metal’ as we know it today to be still ‘in development’ at that point. As dirty, loud, and lethal as it sounds, you cannot help but sing along to this stuff.

A quick run-down of the songs themselves:

‘Sons of Satan’ bursts out of your speakers and wastes no time setting the evil (party?) tone of the album with its lines of ‘Hell the deceiver, Satan's child, you're a believer, and we're going wild’. This is perhaps the hardest song to make out the chords on, rather initially resembling more the pure ‘noise’ that your mom and dad had always told you they thought rock music sounded like.

‘Welcome to Hell’ with its plodding riff including the chilling female recitation of Psalm 23 (?) interspersed with Cronos’ voice only adds to the ‘evil’ atmosphere. It is here where I would say that Cronos’ bass sounds very unique, best described as a menacing serpent crawling and weaving up and around Mantas’ guitar, setting the song’s amazingly wicked tone.

‘Schizo’ is probably my favorite, if only by a hair. The easily discernible lyrics of 'Schizo' are hilarious and paint an unforgettable cartoon-ish image of an apparently harmless little fellow who supposedly turns into a maniacal killer at night. The chord progression is more readily apparent and catchy on this awesome track.

‘Mayhem With Mercy’ sounds like a pretty little acoustic guitar solo sonically encircled by a swarm of winged demons and serves as a fittingly brief interlude before the sonic carnage continues.

This lyrics to ‘Poison’ are disgustingly brilliant. The blatantly raunchy sexual imagery is loads of fun to listen to ('Sitting close beside me, hand upon my zip, don't bother to take it down, honey, it's about to rip!'). This also has a simple and recognizable, yet unrelenting guitar riff that if played loud enough can leave you clutching your skull in agony. To be taken in moderation, of course.

‘Live Like an Angel’ is notable not only for its fast pace and cool reverb effects added to Cronos’ voice, but the shift in production quality (similar to ‘In League With Satan’), resulting in a wider and cleaner sound stage that can probably make you think it was laid down in an actual recording studio as opposed to a dungeon.

‘Witching Hour’ is more in the vein of faster tacks such as ‘Sons...’. Its significance has already been well-documented in past reviews. One can see clearly here the resemblance to the fast drumming and speedy, distorted, and scratchy guitar picking revealed on later landmark albums suchm as ‘Kill 'Em All’, which more or less perfected and introduced the thrash style.

The slowest number on here, ‘One Thousand Days In Sodom’, is pure heaviness and brilliance, most notably in the shift in tempo preceding the chorus as well as the brief bass solo before the guitar solo comes in. It is here where one can clearly hear and appreciate Cronos’ rough, twangy bass playing style that gives the album its character

‘Angel Dust’ is an unrestrained ultra-loud, out-of-control tribute to the drug itself, probably again done to elicit shock and disgust from first time listeners. Probably the most intense track on the album.

‘In League With Satan’ with its different production quality is what it is, an menacing anthem to Satan himself complete with a cool spiteful opening backwards message to boot.

‘Red Light Fever’ is hilarious with its priceless intro. The guitar is thick and insanely overdriven. Cronos sings about his adventures with a prostitute, including later what sounds like a short verbal exchange with the presumed girl followed by the unexpected sped-up finale.

The album as a whole is just as, if not more, extreme or intense than anything it inspired and influenced in decades to follow. I have never yet heard anything else like it in my life and probably never will. It is and will remain one of the loudest, dirtiest, rawest, yet enjoyable recordings in my own music collection (not to mention heavy metal history), and if you’re reading this right now, it should be in yours.

Patient Zero for extreme metal - 84%

Warthur, November 14th, 2011

Legend has it that the first Venom album has such a legendary lo-fi production and raw performances because the band thought they'd been booked in to produce a demo for the album, not the album itself. Whether or not this was true, the muddy souns quality on the release transformed Venom's music from a series of fast-paced NWOBHM tracks highly reminiscent of Motorhead to an altogether stranger album, an album which hinted at the sonic possibilities of the harsh soundscapes unlocked by the band.

In particular, the title track from this album is a stunning prototype for thrash metal; what Venom attained with their guitar sound through the muzzy production would be reproduced in crystal clarity by Slayer in their early material. Cronos' basswork is often lost in the mix, though where it does emerge from the fog it's raw and powerful, though not as technically accomplished as Motorhead's Lemmy (whose style is clearly an inspiration here). Abaddon's drums are a howling cacophony at the back of the mix, keeping the band driving away at what was at the time a furious pace. Where the band most resemble the black metal bands that would arise later is in the lyrical content, which embraces openly scatological and blasphemous content to an extent hitherto unseen in a metal act; musically, however, the band more closely resemble the early thrash acts who would apply increasing levels of technical proficiency to the raucous, wild sound the band describe here.

That said, though it's undeniably influential the album isn't perfect. Whilst there are compelling aesthetic reasons why the lo-fi production really does work for this material, some listeners will just find it irritating - personally, I don't, but I can see how some people might have issues with it. Secondly, the songwriting isn't at a consistently high quality. In particular, In League With Satan - whilst it has some hilariously rude lyrics - is a plodding dirge of a song, an attempt to create a simplistic piece that audience members at gigs can clap and sing along to which doesn't quite fit the denser and more interesting material surrounding it.

Still, these are niggles; on the whole, Welcome to Hell is a fascinating debut for a band with a distinctive sound straight out of the gate. I'd particularly recommend it for fans of the material Motorhead were producing around this time who aren't bothered by raw production values.

From the forest primeval they came...and laughed - 95%

Gutterscream, April 21st, 2011
Written based on this version: 1981, 12" vinyl, Neat Records

"…we're possessed by all that is evil, the death of you God we demand..."

“I’m not a good drummer. He’s not particularly a good singer, but as a whole, we are a brick…” are Abaddon’s words during the band’s jovial interview on the Ultimate Revenge concert video, visual evidence to one of the most fabled shows grown by the metal underground, a show many of us have seen at least a few times. One or two may even be in the crowd giving the cameraman the finger (I’m the black bum in the skullcap). As the drummer fights for a whisky bottle, his unsweetened confession paints a simple brass tacks picture of the band that wasn’t exactly a secret.

At that time in '85, it wasn’t odd that someone hadn’t heard (of) Venom even while three or four of the band’s slabs were scaring parents in the sparse places they could be found. The scene was still but a small landmass undiscovered by many, yet it was larger than the dinky island it was in ’81. Despite a fairly lengthy discography, the three were still fresh faces to the masses that read Hit Parader, and new listeners to Venom could do two things: welcome comparisons and contrasts to other bands or not even give a damn.

Now the album’s been out for 36 years, practically an eternity as far as metal releases go, and like the thing or not, it’s regarded as an ivy-covered landmark. Unless you’re just discovering metal, anyone who ever wanted to hear it has had plenty of time, yet for some reason I still hear a lot of the obvious when it’s brought up nowadays for review or in casual conversation.

Do we need Nancy Drew to tell us the musicianship on Welcome to Hell is a sweat-soaked nightmare of the Julliard School of Music? Do we need Scooby and the Mystery Machine to tell us metal has progressed into something much more ferocious than what’s on Venom’s debut? Maybe we should hire Magnum P.I. to uncover that the trio had been greatly impressed by countrymates Motorhead and a slew of punk bands, and even though the band’s din is ritually described as the nullius filius of that time’s most ill mannered music, people are still compelled to not only compare it to Maiden, Sabbath, Accept, Angel Witch, Saxon, Krokus, and Judas Priest, but boldly announce it sounds nothing like those bands. Old hat.

Let’s talk about Neat Records a bit. When Neat released the In League with Satan 7”, the company was hardly the long-lived bastion of music, but a small British indie label just trying to put out some tunes. As far as 7” records go, the first format the label used, the Venom 7” was its eighth. As far as full-lengthers go, Welcome to Hell would be its second, preceded only by Raven’s Rock Until You Drop. The chances the trio really wanted their debut to sound like it was recorded in ditch water is conceivable, but it’s even more fathomable Dave Wood had about two hundred pounds in his pocket to throw Keith Nichol for the production. On top of that, production equipment then to now is like the Ford Pinto to a 2005 Jaguar, so to complain about the mix is to proclaim something undisputed. If Venom were on EMI/Harvest like Maiden, or even a label like Attic, things probably would’ve been a little rosier in that department, but this is what they/we got, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“…all hell rejoices at the child that she will bear, and Satan’s only son shall be the world’s despair…”

But one can’t write a review without delving into some background banality. Welcome to Hell would see pitch of night in the winter of 1981 – low-budget devil-headed pentagram cover, eleven odes to evil, ‘ol horn head and other topics most unsavory, that nifty blasphemous quote on the back cover that was a warning for all parents to grab their kids and run, and the three of them standing in some sand with hatchets...unkempt, under produced, malevolent, frightening, but not yet timeless. It was a gateway to a sound…probably the first true gritty ‘underground’ sound…that would slowly storm the world and hold it enraptured to this day. Aside from being Neat’s biggest band ever, Venom would become one of the most influential bands metal would hear since Sabbath tolled during a rainstorm in ‘70, Judas Priest parodied Coca-cola in ’74, everyone’s lawn died around Motorhead in ’77, and Maiden released its most boring Eddie album cover in ’80. The fact that no Maiden/standard nwobhm influence whatsoever inches out of this lp makes it even more the marvel. Is it a likable album? Obviously. Is someone kinda nuts for considering it one of the best? Probably, and no. It’s got the finesse of a rusty backhoe, the professionalism of an early ‘70s pro wrestler named Crusher, and the depth of the 2003 Detroit Tigers pitching staff.

But it’s simultaneously terrifying and infectious. It has dark-eyed, Richard Ramirez charisma. It’s boiler room noisy. It has more attitude than twenty nwobhm here today-gone tomorrow dinks put together. In hindsight, what band as early as and besides Venom w(c)ould have plowed aside all the decorations, all the showmanship, and all the elaboration of the pretentious, traditional Euro sound? I'm waiting...just one other band....that's what I thought.

Welcome to Hell is the underground’s savior. Of course, most people would've laughed if that statement was made then.

In instantly blistering fashion, “Sons of Satan” disintegrates the crackling din of vinyl, a tumultuous number that is initially so much like a fiery cannonball in your face it takes you a second or two to recover. Only Helen Keller could miss the Satanic commitment that practically shoots fireworks from the sleeve and the lyrics are no different, but you’d have to wonder about a verse like:

“…put away all your virtues, stop your climbing the walls,
just sign your name on the paper, we'll have ourselves a ball…”

Are these guys for real? Sure sounds like they mean business, especially bassist/vocalist/centerpiece Cronos whose delivery is condemningly diabolical, yet largely intelligible with an apparent penchant for tongue-in-cheek humor. The title cut is more controlled in its deviltry, parched lungs evincing a rambling tale that goes on to underscore an obscured female-narrated passage… “and as I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil…” like a soul entering their fiery domain with a prayer on her lips. Tom and Martin of Hellhammer/Celtic Frost would glean inspiration from this particular avant-garde avenue. “Schizo” and “Poison” are two rotten peas in a pod, sharing a pace moderately brisk and a noisily catchy arch perched over a bubbling undercurrent of raw, primeval grimness. This unrelenting lava flow steams around the strange, wavering acoustics of “Mayhem With Mercy”, a shimmering ghost island only a few feet in diameter wedged between the two tracks , like hallowed ground on the verge of contagion. “Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)” momentarily leers at this island, curls a cracked lip in disgust, and dismisses it with an agile riff, a jagged, quickly spun chorus and maliciously upbeat determination.

Easily more unforgiving and bitter is side two. “Witching Hour”, perhaps one of their top tracks, breaks the seal of Solomon, tolling midnight as demons cry, breaking hell loose with a rapid, noxious rhythm, near breakaway chorus, and an ebon story that just rolls off Cronos’s diseased tongue. “One Thousand Days In Sodom” is as merciless as the title implies. A Mantas solo scribbles and squeals over a breaking bass line while the chorus is the song’s taskmaster, yelling its fate while whipping slaves with grumbling riffage. Quickening the stride again is “Angel Dust”, another barbarian at the gates that rips them from hinges with a bursting chorus. Then the fires turn black. With the unholy entrance of “In League With Satan” the draconian mood ascends to another level. Just when you think this album’s psalms to Hell have already been penned in their purest form, this innocent little ditty comes along to crush them and all other feats of darkness up until that point and some time after…the morose, back masked “…grind bones to dust…” intro, the distorted demon-twined vocals, the droning chorus, lyrics “…kill a newborn baby, tear infant’s flesh…” written with the tears of priests…an acquired taste that will have many gagging before it’s over. Finale “Red Light Fever” is more basic than most of the group’s tracks. Abaddon never deviates from the most basic of drumbeats even during the tune’s moments of pure outburst, a solo that’s foremost white noise while Cronos growls whatever seems to come to mind.

Our underground owes so much to Welcome to Hell. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, there’s no discarding its importance to metal’s heavy-handed development, and every fan of black, death, thrash, and speed metal should raise a goblet in its honor. Indeed it is the heaviest, dirtiest, and most unwholesome album of its day, and the unholy trinity couldn’t have started their reign with a worthier title.

Call me a fanboy if you wish.

“…a thousand days…a thousand years…you’ve lived your life in Hell…”

Welcome to Heaven...on Fire - 100%

heavymetalbackwards, June 1st, 2010

In early 80’s Newcastle, three Geordies were getting sick of the tame rock and metal music that was flooding England. So many bands came close to evil perfection: Black Sabbath had the satanic subject matter but lacked endorsement of devil worship, Judas Priest and KISS had the outfits and stage shows but lacked the sonic assault, and Motorhead had the bulldozering aggression but were missing the over-the-top psycho-drama in concert. Venom couldn’t name one of their heroes that they really could call a “hero.”

Being a music studio employee, vocalist/bassist Conrad “Cronos” Lant was also fed up with the NWOBHM movement. He continually saw bands coming into the studio looking to sound like the next Saxon, instead of attempting something original. It was frustrating to see Raven, Tygers of Pan Tang, and Samson hailed as the next big thing while Venom was ignored. He began to conclude that “heavy metal is for the chicks” by the time the press was labeling Foreigner a metal band.

The concept of Venom was the ultimate rebellion within metal: Black Metal. Although the eponymous anthem to the genre was still unwritten, that’s what “Welcome to Hell” was in sound and spirit. It was a style of music with minimal resemblance to the Scandinavian black metal scene yet to come, but it was definitely a prototype and hugely influential. What it sounded like was a fusion of heavy metal and punk rock, a similar sound to Motorhead but with much rougher production and an evil atmosphere. Despite popular belief, the raw sound was intentional; earlier for the singles, Cronos almost lost his job switching the tapes that were going to be distributed for ones with worse quality. Venom were the first metal band to embrace poor recording for the sake of heaviness and inaccessibility.

Here’s the album: a compilation of demos, gritty recordings of songs about sex, drugs and the devil….most importantly, the devil. Cronos once said that Ozzy Osbourne got it all wrong when he cried out to God for help in Black Sabbath’s eponymous opener; why tell the story through the eyes of the righteous man, when you could tell it through the eyes of a demon? It’s much more fun to play the bad guy. And when this album opens up with “Sons of Satan,” you know that the Legions are the bad guys.

Track after track, anyone not familiar with this music will struggle to make out the sloppy riffs. Guitarist Jeff “Mantas” Dunn screws up a lot, and he doesn’t make much of an effort to hide it. Tony “Abaddon” Bray’s drumming is simple, but the timing is far from the machine-gun perfection most modern metal drummers embrace. The focus is on energy, excitement, and catchy licks. Atmosphere is pivotal as well, with evil effects placed over Cronos’s voice on tracks like “In League With Satan.” Speaking of which, bassist/singer Cronos makes no attempt to sing notes, but instead snarls with a raspy voice, the most distinct and original voice in metal since Ozzy and Lemmy. The texture is perfect, and if you can acquire a taste for the strong stuff, it is quite palatable. We hear it throughout classics like “Poison” and “Witching Hour,” and it’s what keeps Venom feeling vivaciously sinister.

Speed plays a pivotal role in “Welcome to Hell,” and a lot of the perceived fastness comes down to the audible exhaustion as the band sweats everything they got into their instruments, trying to keep pace. “Angel Dust” is the fastest song on here, and it’s written to be catchy and fun in addition to evil. That’s one quality of the music that is centrally important; Venom are not trying to be a walking horror show, but more like a horror/comedy at times. Even when things get slow and dark, like on “In League With Satan,” the groove compels any metalhead to feel like marching along to the beat as he drinks the juice of women, and kills the newborn baby. It’s a role-playing fantasy, with the goal to tell intriguing narratives rather than propagate any sort of philosophy.

The closing song is the epitome of everything this album, and this band, stand for: Red Light Fever. It mixes humor with sinful lust, all in a package of rusty nails. It also has one of my favorite…guitar solos…of all time. For one minute and forty two seconds, we hear the sound of Mantas plugging his guitar into a bass amplifier and making a racket while Cronos screams indecipherable, misogynistic remarks at a whore. I can hear something about “ten inches,” but the rest is mostly a long-lost mystery. And that’s what I love about old Venom albums; they’re loaded with lost gems. You listen to a record like this and you can’t tell what’s actually there and what is just your imagination filling in the blanks. A lot of the riffs are so muffled and obscure, I know I’m throwing in and omitting notes when I try to replicate them…but isn’t it interesting that it means everybody will hear something different when they listen to “Welcome to Hell?”

Well, if you hear it and rate it and don’t care for it, perhaps that’s what happened. Listen again and fill in the blanks better.

Let me take your coat - 100%

autothrall, November 23rd, 2009

You can write Venom's shock and schlock tactics off at your own risk, but there is simply no denying how raw and filthy the band's sound was in an era which was still reeling from the glam and prog rock of the 70s. Combined with a kick ass stage show and heaps of blasphemy, there was no way Cronos and crew were not going to make some ripples in a stagnant environment which was in the process of exploding with ideas. Maiden might have written about evil, but Venom WAS evil.

So why, then, does Welcome to Hell still stand so strong after nearly 30 years of increased brutality, studio wizardry and entire new genres of metal music? Because if you grasp the branches, follow them down the trunk to the roots, and then pull out those roots from the Earth, you will always arrive at the same place: Venom. So why not tap the source for some inspiration? Though it lacks the overdubs, snarls and grunts of modern extremity, Welcome to Hell still sounds excellent to these ears. Distorted bass, punk as fuck, raging rock rhythms on the drum and guitars that, frankly, sound like they are coming from someone who just learned to play the week before...and that's the appeal! Welcome to Hell is grunge, it is NWOBHM, it is black and death and thrash metal, before any of them.

It is impossible for me not to get wrapped up in nostalgia for this record, which is one non stop hard rocking beast after the next. "Sons of Satan" rivals Lemmy and his boys in the pure filth department, this is full on hellish roadkill burn. The title track reigns it back in with a classic riff, that...well...listen to the majority of speed, thrash and power metal bands of the past few decades. You will find this riff on most of their albums. "Schitzo" is good drinking, fucking and fighting metal after a hard day's work at the textile mill. "Mayhem with Mercy" is a nice acoustic tease for the brawny "Poison" to follow, and beat you with its treacherous fist.

'She's mammy's little virgin,
Her daddy's all in pride,
But she welcomed me with opened legs,
Kept me satisfied.'

A timeless anthem of misogyny? In 1981, that was just good fun. "Live Like an Angel, Die Like a Devil" is a roiling, noisy mass of black hysteria, with Cronos almost losing his voice in his crumbling cracker vocals. "Witching Hour" is rugged and raw, and one of my personal faves on this album, as if I could pick one, but listen to those noisy drums...what a racket! And it does not end there, with "1000 Days in Sodom" and the fist fighting "Angel Dust". "In League With Satan" still sounds brilliant, dark and troubled even after albums like Reign in Blood and In the Nightside Eclipse have come into existence. And the album saves one of its best for last, the spiteful "Red Light District". That is, unless you have the fantastic bonus tracks "In Nomine Satanas" and "Burstin' Out", both of which are great.

Welcome to Hell was a vortex of creativity that spawned countless impersonations. This is pretty much where it all came to a head...the theatrical misanthropy of black metal taking its queues from KISS and running with it as far as possible. Venom has always been controversial and polarizing, but they opened their career with two of the best metal albums in the history of this, or any genre.

Highlights: none of them. all of them.


A Very Influential Record - 81%

DawnoftheShred, March 4th, 2009

The New Wave of British Heavy Metal movement yielded a lot of talented bands, many of which were underappreciated. Venom was not one of these. With a sound that was, at the time, the most reckless, menacing force in music, Venom rightly garnered acclaim and infamy. Though their music might appear a bit derivative nowadays, their striking sonic departure was pretty revolutionary at the time: one might call them the first extreme metal band.

Much debate goes on in the black metal community as to exactly how much influence (if any at all) Venom and the other so-called first-wave black metal bands contributed to the development of their beloved second-wave Norwegian stuff. Though I’d say that they were pretty integral, this is of little concern to me: Venom were a much more important influence to thrash metal. Listen to Slayer’s Show No Mercy album to hear the most direct evolution of Venom’s sound, and the entire Teutonic scene, the South American thrash bands, and countless others feature characteristics that can be directly linked back to Venom’s sound.

And what a sound it is. Though they weren’t entirely dissimilar from other NWOBHM bands (some of the up-tempo stuff on here is very Motorhead-ish), Venom’s entire presentation is as terrifyingly unique as Black Sabbath’s debut was a decade before. There are riffs that have a rocking NWOBHM vibe (“Sons of Satan,” “Poison”) and then there are some that are dirty and fearsome (“Witching Hour,” “One Thousand Days in Sodom”). The guitars are enveloped in fuzz and they sound like they’re barely in tune, making leads and melodies sound all the more reckless. There’s an almost intentional sloppiness to the record; the guitars and bass are so raw that you start to question whether some of the things you’re hearing are really even there. The drums are produced pretty poorly too, but they’re so frantic that it’s excusable. Cronos’ nearly atonal vocals are also a plus: his signature growl (drowned in reverb) and occasional shrieks have been echoed by Tom Araya and dozens of other thrash vocalists.

Lyrical content, devoted mostly to shock-value Satanism and blasphemies, was probably the most disturbing to listeners. These guys, with their out-of-the-gutter sound, devilish imagery, and overtly Satanic ambience (the backwards masking at the beginning of “In League with Satan” for instance), was too much for parents and moral watchdog groups. Of course it was all an act, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to this record.

With but one brief departure from the maelstrom (“Mayhem with Mercy,” a Black Sabbath-esque interlude track), it’s an almost completely virile extreme metal record. Diluted in light of the bands that it influenced, those groups would cease to exist if this album hadn’t opened the door. Hopefully the potential buyer will excuse the redundancy that goes with reviewing an album of Welcome to Hell’s notoriety and find a place for it in their collection.

The greatest album ever! - 100%

venomcollector, June 24th, 2008

In August 1981 Venom had originally been asked by Neats boss David Wood to record some demos of all their songs, the band were given three days. After the session David said that he would like to release the demos as an Album. Venom had made their first Album deal. The same cover as the In League With Satan single was used, although the Record Company generously agreed to print the cover in Gold & Black..

Venoms debutalbum was the first - and possibly only - truly groundbreaking album to came out of the NWOBHM, no one had heard anything like Welcome To Hell before and the album hit down as a bomb. Each and one of the total eleven tracks is clear direct hits that never come to submit your memory. Certain - a little bit of Motörhead and the attitude from Punk but nevertheless something entirely new. The intensity in the tunes and Cronos cheeky barren song compares nothing contemporary. Striking is also which self-confidence and pondus this debut album smokes. The tunes vary from slow and heavy to fast and brutal.

The introductory Sons Of Satan opens skullcrushing and lets the immediate hell to break out. What a sound! With the massive speedy drumslaming, twangy bass and instantly infectious guitar riffs the production feels like one big filthy iron fist on the jaw. Tentimes harder than everyone those cushions today's studios throw forward together. Rawness is the word. The title tune takes at and is with it's suggestive mainriff a favourite that Venom never omitt from their liveset. The third track Schizo oscillates conscintiously and is an excellent example on Venoms unique ability to may together one insane speed with one catchy chorus. All big records need a respiration hole and that 47 seconds instumental Mayhem Without Mercy is precise what man needs in order to retrieve breath before Poison and Live Like An Angel ( Die Like A Devil) completes the first side. Both tunes incredible good.

Side two of the vinyl opens with the absolute classic Witching Hour, possibly Venom's single most important track, in it you'll hear a number of stylistic devices that would later pervade all extreme metal genres. Next up is the mighty 1000 Days In Sodom with good chorus and great bulldozer bass from Cronos. Angel Dust, twice as fast as the demoversion, unashamedly glorifies the drug that makes its users think they have the strength of rhinos. The hits just keep coming - In League With Satan, this favourite comes complete with backwards satanic intro, tribal-like drums and slow brooding riffs. I literally feel I'm "south of heaven" when this song is on. One last thing worthy of noting is the opening riff to the albums closer, Red Light Fever, I believe to be the HEAVIEST riff in 1981, hands down.

The record's grade are indisputable, highest possible and Welcome To Hell is a benchmark by which other musical extremists are still judged.

Venomfreaks. Check out my Venompage:

Welcome to Hell Indeed... - 100%

Flavius, April 21st, 2008

When this little monstrosity first hit the music scene way back in 1981 few people knew what to make of it. Released by a small independent U.K. label called Neat Records, the music contained within must have shocked the crap out of anyone brave enough to venture past the pentagram adorned cover and give it a listen. What awaited the unsuspecting listener was music so raw, amateurish sounding and badly produced, yet at the same time aggressive, original and dripping with attitude.

It's never been a great secret that Venom were not the best of musicians. Even the band themselves have admitted as much on numerous occasions. Mantas' guitar work is fairly simplistic, Cronos' base playing was barely adequate and Abaddon's drumming is downright horrible. Yet it all somehow seems to fit together quite nicely. It seems as though the band members were aware of their respective limitations as musicians and did not attempt anything they wouldn’t be able to handle. And the end result is surprisingly good.

What we have here is a collection of N.W.O.B.H.M. proto-thrash classics. Despite often being credited as the godfathers of black metal, death metal and extreme metal in general, those expecting to hear music that actually resembles any of those sub-genres here will be sadly disappointed. The music is fast, furious and aggressive, with obvious nods to Motorhead (sonically) and Black Sabbath (thematically). All the songs are extremely catchy, and you can’t help but feel a sense of fun about the whole album, despite the rather dark and evil subject matter. Standout tracks are “Welcome to Hell”, “Live Like an Angel”, “In League with Satan”, “1,000 Days in Sodom” and the absolute classic (and much covered) “Witching Hour”.

Another thing that must be also mentioned is that the production here is absolutely horrendous. The whole album sounds as if it was actually recorded somewhere in the pits of Hell, and this may put some people off. Guitar sound is very muddy and the drums sound like cardboard boxes. It all sounds very cheap and amateurish, yet somehow it would be hard to imagine it any different. It definitely fits the dark, sinister and filthy atmosphere of the songs.

The one thing about Venom that is unfortunately lost on a lot of people is their great sense of humour. Someone once described them as “the Monty Python of heavy metal” and I couldn’t agree more. Their ultra-evil personas and satanic posturing are so over the top it is downright hilarious. Their lyrics dealing with all sorts of evil, occult and satanic subject matter are very much tongue-in-cheek, as is their whole image. Once could say that in some ways they’re more “Spinal Tap” than Spinal Tap.

Having said that, there’s no denying Venom’s importance in shaping heavy metal into what it is today, and this album stands as a fine document of their contribution to the genre. Every song here is an absolute classic and exudes energy, charm and passion that is often lacking in more technical and musically proficient releases. However, those expecting high-end musicianship and great sonic fidelity may want to stay away. Others who don’t hold such things in high regard and enjoy their music rough, dirty and mean should enjoy and appreciate this historic release.

The First Album of Its Kind - 90%

baptizedincorpsblood, October 13th, 2007

I'm not going to get to deep into the legacy or history of this album because I feel most of the other reviewers have covered these grounds much more adeptly than I personally could have. With that said I will comment that I believe the breakthrough Venom made with this album was that they pioneered a gritty authenticity and an energy unrivaled at the time.

When I picked up this record and flipped over the cover-which was arresting enough- I was dazzled by the prototype for the artwork of almost every black metal album to follow. Each band member dubbed his own personal demoniker, the creative interpretation of instrumentation (bulldozer bass, chainsaw guitar, nuclear warheads) and the ax-wielding band photos. Even the somewhat puzzling instruction at the bottom corner:" If this record is scratched or damaged in anyway please throw it away and buy a new one!" had a certain attitude in it, like you don't know what your getting into just listening to the album.

And you don't! If you've been consumed by the second wave of black metal too long to be bothered with records this early (shame on you) then you aren't prepared for how the same satanic expression is presented on this album. If you were looking for some mindless, good time Rock 'N' Roll then you may not be prepared to make the spiritually abusive investment in the darkness contained here.

Now onto the track listing. This album is a chaotic racket from start to finish aside from unique and memorable moments-but not that it isn't all memorable! Sons of Satan brings us up to high adrenaline pace and Welcome to Hell locks is a solid headbanging rhythm machine. Oh and that vocal refrain, "Welcome to HELL", first contestant for best album moment. Schizo demonstrates well another BM album fundamental-song transitions. Playing off the tightened up ending of the last track , Schizo is launched by a single chord tone wrung out and a drum that picks up the pace again.

The fourth track displays yet another novelty of the BM album invented here. Mayhem with Mercy, as well as being the namesake of the Norwegian gods, is an instrumental exemplar of what became a requirement of any album boasting a taste for the dark arts. The ambiance is soon disrupted by a tumultuous guitar intro to one of the most Rock 'N' Roll songs on the album: POISON! Raunchy, devilish lyrics. Listen for the second guitar break down, the whole band demonstrates their apparently superb grasp of dynamics in a quarter of a minute here. It takes them only a split second to drop to a greatly decreased volume not displayed on any other rocker on this album-this moment. I believe, takes the cake for best album moment. Closing side one is a track I thought would've made a great opener Live Like an Angel (Die like a Devil). Pure blasphemic fun.

There's not much more I can say about the second side other than its a collection of some great thrashers. WITCHING HOUR!!! ('nuff said). 1000 Days in Sodom has one of the greatest, heaviest riffs in the Venom repertoire, pure melodic royalty. Angel Dust, although a somewhat simply written song, will demolish you with the speed and force of a train wreck. In League With Satan is the song they play at Lucifer's birthday party after the third round of beers are downed. You can practically hear the mugs clinking. The album ends on a grittier and perhaps disillusioning note-the tail of a passionate and dissonant night with a prostitute.

My advice to you in having the most enjoyable experience with Venom's "Welcome to Hell" is get drunk, get destructive, and worship Satan!

It All Started Here..! - 85%

DeathGrind75, September 1st, 2007

Whichever way you look at it, 'Welcome To Hell' is a massively important album in the history and development of metal in general, let alone kick-starting the thrash/speed metal sub-genre. It may not be entirely original; right from the opening track, 'Sons Of Satan', there's a distinct Motorhead feel, whilst 'Schizo', 'Poison' and 'Angel Dust' hint at some underlying punk influence; in other places there are tinges of Judas Priest and NWOBHM. These are only elements of the whole, though, and Venom added to the mix plenty of distortion, aggression and an overall sound that was completely their own.

Sabbath had created metal that was doom-laden and oppressive, Motorhead and Priest made it heavier and faster, but up until this point nothing in metal packed quite as much punch for sheer intensity and raw aggression. There's no denying that this release paved the way for US bands that emerged over the next few years: Metallica, Slayer, Exodus. Early black metal bands like Bathory and Norway's Mayhem (who took their name from this album), both acknowledged Venom, and their influence can also be heard on early recordings by Possessed - cited by many as the first true death metal band.

'Welcome To Hell' may not be a masterpiece, but it does contain some real gems: 'Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)' is a deftly-executed thrasher and does actually demonstrate their ability to play (!), while 'Witching Hour' (later covered by Mayhem on their legendary 'Deathcrush' mini-album) is surely the first true thrash metal classic. 'In League With Satan', with it's tribal rhythms and Cronos's evil-sounding, echo-chamber growl, laid the groundwork for black metal (though it bears little relation to today's exponents of the sub-genre such as Emperor and Cradle Of Filth) and the album finishes with the wonderfully chaotic 'Red Light Fever'.

Okay, the production is muddy and grimy, some of the playing is a little sloppy at times and the guitars are out-of-tune, but when I listen to this record I'm hit by the raw intensity of it, and playing it recently I felt the same sense of exhilaration as I did on first hearing it some 20 years ago. For me, the rough edges in the production (or lack of it) adds to the spontaneous feel of the record in the same way as it did with something like The Stooges' red-raw classic 'Funhouse'. If you want polished, note-for-note, perfectly-performed rock, you can always buy the latest Aerosmith or Def Leppard release! Personally, I’m not that fussy, and this record still kicks ass!

The extreme metal roots - 90%

TableofHELL, April 30th, 2007

The birth of all extreme metal comes back to this album. There may have been heavier, better, or cleaner bands around, but all extreme metal comes back to Venom when it comes to thrash, death or black metal. Simply put, they've influenced countless bands over the years, and all of the extreme metal players owe something to Venom, be it Slayer, Morbid Angel, Possessed, Sodom, or Kreator.

This album is an assult on the senses from beginning to end. It starts out with the high speed Motorhead-esque monstrosity of Sons of Satan (just a lot dirtier and faster, not to mention more evil). The sloppy musicianship and the poor production qualities are the first thing that hits you, but they make up with it with pure energy and anarchic attitude. Songs such as Schizo and Angel Dust have very punk tones, while 1000 Days in Sodom is heavier than a bag of bricks. Witching Hour is possibly the first thrash song ever, with its punk drumming, and very metal lyrics about sacrificing virgins to Lord Satan.

This album may have been dismissed upon its release by many, but looking back on it, it is one of the most influential metal albums in the extreme metal universe. Slayer and Sodom owe everything to Venom. And with the release of a new Venom album coming late this year/next year, I can tell they are stronger than ever.

Not for all tastes.... - 90%

cronosmantas, November 8th, 2005

Back in the early 80's, Welcome to Hell was an extremely pivotal album. Lars Ulrich of Metallica even stated this album to be the very first thrash release. I hate to agree with that asshole, but I agree. It is of course still arguable, but there is no doubt that hits album is the stepping stone to thrash and black/death metal alike.

This album of course is the result of three British "musicians" getting together wanting to make the most in-your-face metal ever created (in the early 80's anyway). It's like they wanted to take what Motorhead started and take it not one, but many steps forward! The band took shockingly evil lyrics and mixed it with loud, heavy, and rather sloppy musicianship! I personally love the results but some people sure won't

One reason people may not like this album is because of the major rough production. I personally kind of dig it as it gives the album a unique sound. With Venom's lyrical and image choice, they're actually lucky to get this recorded at all! Most production studies would have frowned on their musical choice so it's a "miracle" that Welcome to Hell was even recorded!

The album kicks off with Sons of Satan, an extremely thrashy track. Right away people new this wasn't your average Motorhead rip-off! These guys were for real! All the songs present on this album have, for lack of a better word, great "groove" to them that is extremely different than the black metal the band would inspire in the future. What surprising is that even with the albums poor production, many of the songs have very sing-along-able courses! Try listening to Live Like an Angel with singing the course along with Cronos. "Live like an angel, die like a devil, got a place in hell reserved for me. Live Like an angel, die like a devil, gonna burn in hell it's where I want to be!" Ouch!!

Some people slat Venom for not having musical talent, but that is harsh. Sure they may not be the best metal musicians in the genre but they deserve MUCH more credit then they get. First of all the production doesn't help in this case. Listen to some of Venom's later releases such as Prime Evil or Resurrection for proof. Mantas is actually quit a good guitarist and Cronos has a likeable voice that fits this time of "in-your-face" metal music perfectly!

If you are a metal fan, then Welcome to Hell needs to be in your collection! If you can get past the rough production, than Welcome to Hell may very well be to your liking (especially if you’re a thrash nut!).

Evil, Satanic..Just what you'd expect! - 84%

langstondrive, June 12th, 2004

The first album from Venom at first comes off a simply a prelude to the riff machine "Black Metal", but upon closer inspection, "Welcome to Hell" stands alone as a solid speed/heavy metal album. To be fair, the only black metal thing about the album is the lyrics, which are evil and blasphemous, and possibly the album's best song, Witching Hour.

There is a lot of midpaced stuff on here, such as the title track, which sounds strangely like "2 Minutes to Midnight" (well, at least that main riff). However, despite the slower elements, they still proceed to kick the listeners ass with morbid sounding gutteral bass lines and guitar blasts. Cronos had the most evil vocals at the time, producing not quite a growl and not quite a voice, one has to hear it for themselves.

Favourite songs on the album for me include "Sons of Satan", which is a quick paced thrashy number, featuring some surprisingly good solo work. "1000 Days in Sodom" is another classic, with an absolute fucking killer of an opening riff and some pretty damn cool lyrics. Despite the aforementioned songs' greatness, "Witching Hour" takes the cake as not only the best song on here, one of the best Venom songs ever! Beginning with a gutteral bass line, then into a riff that provides plently of satanic imagery. Follow this up with Cronos' growling (ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE!!) and you have a true classic!

I suggest this album to any fans of Venom and thrash, just don't expect the rawer black metal sounding stuff that you get on the album of the same name.

Lord Satan is so fucking proud. You bet. - 97%

Estigia666, April 16th, 2003

Let this be an example on how you should make the tribute to everyone's favorite semi-deity: raw, sloppy, crushing and RAW. This album is so fucking great i almost can't find the words to speak about it. This was obviously made by mentally unstable people, criminally insane, whatever you wanna call it. Just imagine three of the craziest guys in british metal going beyond what Priest, Motorhead and Sabbath were doing at the time. Now imagine if the result was beyond what even they would have expected. I don't know if that was exactly the case, all i can tell is that i wouldn't make this shit even if i tried!!

Just check the opening song "Sons of Satan", fast and rocking, is actually so fast you can't sometimes figure out what is happening (maybe in a remastered CD you can get better results. Mine is a copied tape from a tape copied from an old vynil!). The title track is more mispaced, but still effective. "Poison", great chorus, same as "Live like an Angel, Die like a Devil" (kickass opening riff). "Witching Hour", "1000 Days in Sodom", "In League with Satan", all of them fucking classics. "Red Light Fever", fucking hilarious. Venom were always a fun kind of band, as you must know.

I must have missed one or two songs from my previous description, so i'll go right with the highlights. OK, highlights: all of it. Well, all except the one minute instrumental "Mayhem with Mercy" that doesn't appeal to me as much. Is just what it is. As for the rest, man, prepare yourselves for quite a ride. This kicks you right in the face, stomach and genitals all at the same time and equally proportional intensity (quite a big foot if you think about it). Go ahead and buy it, damn it!

Practicing Satanists? No, they're experts! - 85%

Wez, January 1st, 2003

"Welcome To Hell" was definitely a pivotal album for heavy metal. Few bands can claim to have begun a new metal genre, let alone several. The raw extremity of Venom's first effort at the time inspired the whole thrash metal movement that was to thrive throughout the rest of the 80s. Digitally remastered (along with Black Metal and At War With Satan) with extensive liner notes, pictures and an album's worth of bonus tracks (I'm not kidding) this is an essential pick up for both long time Venom fanatics and curious metalheads who want to know how it all started.

Venom waste no time in getting straight into a crushingly heavy riff in opener "Sons Of Satan". Their style is an odd but original mix of the doomy sludge of Black Sabbath, the speed of Motorhead and the raw energy of punk rock. Add to this the snarling vocals of Cronos and the screaming guitar solos and it's hard to believe this was recorded in 1981. From the first minute the album is dominated by catchy but threatening and thrashy riffs, and it doesn't let up until the album's 40 minute duration is over. It's a relentless ride that shocks and awes in equal measure even today (over 20 years after). Perhaps the only break from the intensity is "Mayhem With Mercy", a short and effective acoustic piece. Scattered around in various places are sound effects enhancing an already foreboading and dark work of occultism (check the start of "In League With Satan" for one example). You can defnitely pick out from this album the elements that later thrash and death bands took their influences from.

Looking at it as we have so far, it seems that this is an album that can't go wrong, however, there are some limitations. The musicmanship on display is not very impressive, but it is inventive and sincere. Not entirely incompetent but clumsy and not rehearsed well enough. The production is pretty awful, truth be told, sounding like you're listening to it with your head in a bucket of water. The guitar sound is noisy and not always very clear, and it sounds like Abaddon was drumming on boxes. But this does work in their favour, fitting the primitive, but fulfilling style well.

As a title like "Welcome To Hell" probably indicates, the lyrics on offer are littered with occult and Satanist images. These are done without either being cheesy or laughable, many subjects of which would become clichéd later on, proving their influence. The 11 bonus tracks on offer originate from demos, singles and other recording sessions. Most are alternative versions of songs on the album and there are many original tracks, boosting the value for money of this reissue. Venom's influence can be seen everywhere in the extreme metal world, best summed up by Lar$ Ulrich (don't mind the typographical pun) who stated "Welcome To Hell was a classic! Black metal, speed metal, death metal - Venom started it all in 1981 with that one album"