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Old-school black metal … and not even bad at that. - 65%

oneyoudontknow, April 16th, 2012

Is Quorthon still alive? Has he ventured back some years and released something of this first outputs again? Or were some of his compositions not spread before and have therefore only seen the light of day on this recording for the very first time? Well, the direction of the music as well as the overall concept should be obvious by now. Venomous – another reference as well as reverence – play a kind of black metal that in style sounds so very different from what the majority is performing at the moment.

Not only the sound also the song-writing as well as the lyrics take the listener back into the early days of the black metal scene. Too much cliché? Absolutely not! The b/w cover artwork with the goat on it, the primitive sound, the nice bass-guitar in the background as well as this dark sound works together in a somewhat fascinating way. Moreover, the rather hollow vocals – a mixture between singing, speaking and croaking – give the impression of being mandatory in case you want to create art of the early days of the scene. Maybe the production should have been slightly less ‘polished’ in order to be even more ‘convincing’. Venomous’ sound is raw, but has a lot of power in the drums; which is pretty cool and adds a nice touch to the music. Nevertheless, the tracks are exceedingly catchy and anti-modern. Well, a general focus on slightly upper midtempo black metal sets the right pace and the Swedish band was actually able to craft a piece of dark art whose concept does not sound too ‘planned’ or controlled. The vibe is there and it is possible to enjoy the tracks; thanks also to the lyrics, whose typical content can be understood easily.

A venture into another realm would be the last track. This would be a ‘homage’ to Mr. “I have recently been released from prison and am now able to release no more crappy ambient stuff” Vikernes, which seems to put a considerable share of the black metal community into a frenzy. Well, I will not comment on this issue, because in case I would, I would certainly have to face a lawsuit for slander, then. The fascination for him tells you a lot about the current state of the black metal scene … sadly. Nevertheless, a discussion of this last track is unavoidable. The music has some touch of Burzum’s Filosofem album and also the screams show some resemblance. Along with an icy atmosphere and a rather repetitive approach in terms of the riffs, Venomous is able to create some of the atmosphere of their Norwegian ‘archetype’. Compared with their other tracks the music is more intense, harsh and aggressive.

No Return? The title of the albums sounds like an ironic take on what the band actually offers to the listener. From a different perspective though, it seems like the only way to actually deal with the legacy of the early days of the black metal scene. Bathory’s The Return… is a reference impossible to ignore, another one would be Venom; but when it comes to their art then the gap is wider compared to Quorthon’s band. The target audience for Venomous is rather limited, but those who refuse to follow modern trends and have a heart for this old-school influenced concept might find the music offered on ‘No Return’ quite charming.

Based on a review originally written for ‘A dead spot of light (Number 12)’: