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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!