The year was 1988. An impressionable young metalhead was watching MTV, and the video for IMPELLITTERI’S “Stand in Line” came on. By the time the video had ended, this man-child of metal was on his way to the record store to pick up their very excellent full-length debut. Big things were expected of this young shredder. Sadly, Chris Impelliteri is one of those guys that should have been absolutely huge, but he never quite managed to turn the corner.
Fast forward 27 years to the release of new record Venom, out April 21 via Frontiers Music. One might have expected Chris to slow down just a tiny bit, but no – his solos are still shreddy goodness. Rob Rock is back in the fold on lead vocals, and Rob sings like only Rob can – angelic, gritty, and powerful all at the same time. The rest of the band is tight and zeroed in, but the focus of Venom is the twin attack of Chris Impelliteri and Rob Rock, and it’s a wonderful thing.
The album is built on the classic IMPELLITTERI sound that is still fresh – tons of hooks, both vocal and guitar, some insane shredding during the solos, and mostly great production. There are a couple of times, especially during the solos, that it sounds a bit thin, but it’s a minor issue and not one that’s likely to cause you to enjoy this release any less. Chris generally can do no wrong with his songwriting and he continues that trend here. “We Own the Night”, “Empire of Lies”, and “Rise” are some of my favorite tracks, but all of the songs feature excellent writing and insane guitar work.
The lyrics aren’t Shakespeare, but let’s face it: Rob Rock could sing his vocals by reciting a phone book or a dictionary and it would still sound awesome. His sound isn’t as smooth and polished as in previous IMPELLITERI releases or his own solo albums, but that’s not what this record needed – this is an intense, fast-paced shred fest with raw edged vocals, with one exception: the final track, “Holding On”, where Rob gives us a stunning reminder of his melodic side, and Chris wrings every bit of emotion out of his guitar strings.
If I had one complaint about Venom, it’s the length. Ten great songs clock in at just 35 minutes. Other than that and a couple of minor production issues, there’s nothing that takes away from this release. If you’re a fan of IMPELLITTERI (or really, any of the other great shredders or virtuoso guitarists), you need to pre-order this so you can listen to it as soon as it comes out – it’s that good.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM