Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home
 
Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Venom

Fallen Angels

Review by Mike Korn

These grizzled veterans of demonic metal have become a very reliable presence on the scene and most of their recent albums have been enjoyable but not very ground-breaking. With Fallen Angels, there is a definite feeling of the band trying to stretch a little bit and come up with something that's not run of the mill. All the trademarks of recent albums like Hell and Metal Black are here, but the songwriting is sharper and more varied, the production better and the performances themselves seem a lot more energetic.

This would have been a great follow up to the classic At War With Satan released decades ago. You can feel a renewed purpose in Cronos' vocals and lyrics, the guitar playing of Rage is much improved and new drummer Dante fits right in. Anybody seeking rough and crude black metal with an intelligent touch is encouraged to seek out Fallen Angels and try to get the "special edition" with two extra tracks. Those cuts are extremely intriguing and not the usual throwaways you get on such releases.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Hammerhead
New drummer Dante gets to show his stuff right away with a rolling tribal drum beat that forms the bedrock of this song. It's an unusual way to kick off a Venom album because the song is mid-paced instead of a furious blast. But it's a triple heavy pounder that embeds itself in your head with catchy vocal lines. I can see rows upon rows of heads banging to this one.
Nemesis
If you're looking for speed, you'll get it here! This is one of the fastest, rawest Venom tunes since the glory days of the 80s. Old Cronos really lets it all hang out here, laughing evilly, letting loose with strangled screams, grunting and yelling "Come on, you motherf***ers!"
Pedal to The Metal
"Nemesis" was just a warm-up for this headbanging monster, a real classic full of speed and power. This song ranks with the best Venom tunes ever! There's a smoking solo from Rage and you really believe Cronos when he screams "My final destination will be the place that I die!"
Lap of the Gods
This kicks off with a real surprising blast of pure old school rock guitar soloing from Rage. It's a fast-paced tune that's pretty metal but has a real rocking that many newer extreme metal bands lack. There's also some quirkiness to it. It slows down a lot in the middle for a bass workout by Cronos and mellow guitar before returning to the original pace. "What's in the manger? / Kill that thing!"
Damnation of Souls
This is a driving pounder chiefly distinguished by Cronos' gruff but extremely hooky vocal work. The man knows how to do vocals that are grim but comprehensible and that also stick in your head. The lyrics are pretty pointed too, and focus on how "good" religion uses the fear of Hell to accomplish its goals.
Beggarman
This is one of the album's lesser tracks but it still boasts some primal bass-driven heaviness. The simple chorus of "You are the beggarman / Beggarman, thief" is hammered home relentlessly. There's an acoustic interlude that's kind of a shock for Venom fans, but don't worry, it isn't long before the metal comes crashing back in.
Hail Satanas
This is a flat out metal anthem praising the Dark One, very much in the vein of recent Venom albums like Metal Black. It's nothing especially brilliant, but it has an almost cosy feeling to it, to hear Cronos roaring "Hail Satan / Archangel!” over rocking metal riffs. This would be a good one to hear in concert.
Sin

 A lot more thought than many might expect went into this punishing, fast paced metal cut. It grows on you with each listening. Venom originally came up in the NWOBHM and you can sure find traces of that here. There's some crushing slower paced doominess mid-track that's really cool, and even some melody. This cut's a real sleeper and a surprise for those who think Venom can only do one-dimensional "biker metal.”

Punk's Not Dead
With their rude and crude approach, Venom has always had an appeal to punk rockers and here the band pays tribute to their punk fans with a real thick, muddy and bass heavy track where Dante's drums brutally hammer away. "Punk's not dead, it never died / You can't kill a way of life!"
Death Be Thy Name
This is a pretty typical fast and heavy rocker that kind of oozes along like a flow of lava from a volcano. It's not one of my favorites here, but it doesn't detract from the power of the album at all.
Lest We Forget
An acoustic instrumental is not something one expects on a Venom album, but here it is. Other than providing a brief break in the action, I can't see much reason for it to be here.
Valley of the Kings
Egyptian themes dominate the lyrics of this number, which is a mid-paced pounder with an epic feel and a lot of guitar "squeals.” Cronos' deep, clean vocals are pretty cool and give this track a lot of its appeal. He really does more with his voice on this album than anything I've heard previously.
Fallen Angels
The title track kind of hails back to the title track of the Possessed album, with its slow build up and creepy, epic feel. Cronos' bass intro is super juicy and fat.  The way the wind blows in the background with the wailing of damned souls gives it an extra eerie atmosphere. When the heavy chainsaw riffing finally kicks in, it’s a great transition. Clever lyrics and catchy vocal lines help to make this an extremely memorable Venom tune. "Cast from Heaven / Damned to Hell / In the Beginning / Angels Fell."
Annunaki Legacy
Here's a bonus tune that equals the best of anything on the album proper. It's a super hooky chugger with what I think are Cronos' best lyrics ever, questioning the origin of humanity. How this missed the album proper is a total mystery to me, because I like it as much as anything else here.
Blackened Blues

This might just be the weirdest Venom tune I've ever heard. More thudding bass work starts off and the song never really gets much faster. This is probably the closest the band have ever gotten to true doom metal. The track kind of drips slowly along and Cronos' croaking vocals sound like a zombie that has just woken up (or Pantera's Phil Anselmo during his spoken word segments). Rage's lead guitar work is truly bluesy so the name is no misnomer. It's a very odd song but strangely compelling.

 
More CD Reviews
Metal/Prog Metal
Non-Prog
Progressive Rock
 
Google

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2018 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./Beetcafe.com