VENOM MMV 4-CD Box (Sanctuary)(2005)
Many NWoBHM bands have been influential on extreme metal, and none more so than Venom. While Raven and Jaguar were early speed metal merchants, and Witchfinder General, Witchfynde and Angel Witch the darker end, it is probably Venom who are name checked the most.
The classic / original line-up was bassist Cronos, guitarist Mantas and drummer Abaddon, and despite more musical chairs than a kid’s party throughout the 80s and 90s, it is surprisingly Abaddon the mainstay.
Venom have strong catalogue of original material (and some not so good verging on piss poor later material), which as been tarnished by a plethora of reissues, compilations and unofficial live albums. So this box set marks the band’s 25th anniversary and is long overdue. An extended Best Of plus remixes, rerecordings, rarities, demos; the complete works.
Disc 1 kicks off with a remix of “Black Metal”, and the singles “Bloodlust” and “In League With Satan”, all classics. “Manitou” is another well known track. Dark, doomy, thrashy, it’s all genre defining stuff.
Venom’s music was often so messy that it’s only the poor recording quality that distinguishes the demos and outtakes. But I guess that was part of the appeal.
Disc 2 starts with a live intro tape circa 83/84, followed by the 20 minute epic “At War With Satan”. A cleaner guitar sound, but the song and vocals still as cluttered as ever. Strong in places, but such longs tracks by a band like Venom are seriously heavy going. The TV adverts included here are also laughable.
Disc 3 opens with a 1996 live intro, followed by more classic Venom, outtakes and six live tracks.
Disc 4 is what will interest fans the most with rerecorded tracks from the rare Assault series, several live tracks from Hammersmith 1984, and a Metro Radio interview, which insightful, interesting, childish, haphazard and inane, the same extremes as the music.
Fans will love this set, lots of collectable material, but for any but the ardent fan it’s also extremely heavy going.
Review by Joe Geesin