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Venom > Welcome to Hell > 1981, 12" vinyl, Neat Records (Limited edition, Picture disc) > Reviews > Felix 1666
Venom - Welcome to Hell

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.