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Venom > Welcome to Hell > Reviews > DanielG06
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.