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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.