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Album Reviews : Venom Inc – Avé

By on July 20, 2017

Without for a moment diving into a history lesson I will offer a brief background to the formation of Venom Inc. as it is crucial to understanding the context of my review.

As you may already be aware, Venom (no Inc.) are one of the earliest examples of what would become ‘black metal’. The music itself was more Motorhead than Mayhem and until the 1985 album Possessed, comprised of Cronos (bass, vox), Mantas (guitar) and Abaddon (drums, percussion). Through a myriad of line-up changes and updates to the band’s sound, Tony Dolan (AKA Demolition Man) replaced Cronos from 1989’s Prime Evil until 1997’s Cast in Stone, which saw a reunion of the ‘classic line up’, lasting the solitary album. For reasons best read about elsewhere, Cronos now fronts Venom… and Dolan fronts Venom Inc. with both Mantas and Abaddon as band members.

Does the world need what amounts to two versions of Venom?

We are entering into an age where more and more band disputes are heading to arbitration and in some rare cases they becoming civil disputes, thus heading to local versions of Magistrates Court. Venom’s members have arrived at a rather sensible ‘two band’ solution with both containing excellent musicians more than capable of carrying the legacy that started way back on the massively influential Welcome to Hell (’81) and Black Metal (’82). My personal take on both outfits is that the Cronos’ Venom is akin to The Exorcist’s ragged Linda Blair and Dolan’s Venom Inc. is Hellraiser’s brooding Pinhead.

Avé is a big sounding record. Taking advantage of modern production techniques allows Dolan’s imposing bark of a vocal to dominate, it is at the core of the album’s success. Mantas could always play the guitar and he is articulate in his phrasing during solo’s across the albums cuts and on the machine gun rhythm guitar technique he more or less pioneered. Abaddon sounds like he has taken Scott Travis’s hyper Painkiller (’90) sound and technique and amped it up a few notches.

The strongest album cuts include “Ave Satanas”, “Forged in Hell” and “I Kneel To No God”. All are great examples of modern heavy metal steeped in the traditions of the NWoBHM and Teutonic heavy metal. Lead track “Dein Fleisch” accompanies a rather bizarre video, the song itself has been getting a pummelling by commentators on social media who anticipated the viscous guitar shrapnel ‘Venom’ is more famed for producing. “Dein Fleisch” isn’t a bad album cut at all but it does demonstrate a broader challenge for ‘Incs. musicians.

The average listener or commentator to “Dein Fleisch” would not have dived deep into Venom’s catalogue and actively listened to the albums Dolan fronted. If they had, one of the features of his tenure is the compressed sound and outstanding bass playing. Make no mistake though, Dolan’s Venom contained the DNA of Welcome to Hell and Black Metal but was far more noteworthy for improved musicianship and more traditional forging of heavy metal song craft. Avé is well and truly part of the forgotten Venom legacy forged through high quality yet overlooked albums from Prime Evil to The Waste Lands (’92). I highly recommend the reader explore these forgotten gems.

I have an advance copy of Avé and have had it playing as background music as I go about daily life at home (Dad stuff… BBQ’s, cooking dinner, cleaning the garage and hamming it up with my two daughters). It is surprisingly good company.

If you are heavy metal fan willing to invest time in an album, then Avé really is the business.

Band: Venom Inc
Album: Avé
Year: 2017
Genre: Black Metal
Label:  Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: United Kingdom


Andrew is a musician who has spent many years performing on the stages of the pubs and clubs of Queensland. A devotee of the broad church that is rock, punk, funk, jazz and of course all genres of metal... he now shares his enthusiasm via a burgeoning pursuit of music journalism. Follow him on twitter @andymckaysmith