Venom - From the Very Depths (Spinefarm)

Not what's required...
Release Date: 
29 Jan 2015 - 11:30pm

A lot has been said about Iron Maiden’s ‘punk’ attitude in their early days; and it has to be said, most of what’s been said is rubbish. Maiden may well have had a short-haired singer when such a thing was considered infra dig in metal circles, but their man songwriter, Steve Harris, counted – and was musically adept enough to be tribute to – the likes of Genesis and Jethro Tull amongst his favourite acts. The odd mohair sweater might have been worn, but that’s just about as far as any punk influence truly impinged on Iron Maiden.

If you wanted a true confluence of leather, bristles, studs and acne back in the early eighties then Venom were your band. A band so close to the edge of musical ineptitude they often seemed about to clatter over the edge of musicality into the abyss of pure noise, Venom were the true embodiment of anarchy in metallic form. You know the story by now, of how Venom spawned an entire genre – black metal – through their simple inability to play their instruments as fast as they wanted to, and you know how it all ended, predictably, in tears and acrimony. But at their ‘peak’, around the time of the Welcome to Hell and Black Metal albums, Venom were simply untouchable.

That was nearly thirty five years ago, of course, and whilst lesser lights have forged lucrative careers with less to play with than Venom’s only surviving member from that classic period, Cronos, Newcastle’s most blighted sons of Satan stand, in this fourteenth incarnation of the band, at something of a crossroads. If we take as read that the band were at their best when they could barely play, what point is there in 2014 in a competent, seemingly uninspired Venom vomiting out  sterile furballs of smoke and mirror benighted posturing such as From the Very Depths?

The answer, of course, is very little. What we want from this band is the filth and the fury. What we get - From the Very Depths - is simply a sturdy, slightly tedious heavy metal album, one of approximately two thousand such things that will see the light of day in 2015. That it bears the name of Venom – an institution still revered, and rightly so, whatever privations the name has suffered over the years – makes the whole thing even more depressing than it might have been had Cronos, Dante and and LaRage decided to put this out under some other moniker. But whichever way you look at it, songs such as The Death of Rock n Roll and Long Haired Punks – the two best on offer here – are about as far away as possible from the true spirit of Venom as it’s possible to be whilst still trading under the name. Only a full reformation of the classic lineup can save Venom now - Where are Mantas and Abaddon when we need them?