I have to admit when the news of Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, guitarist Jeff “Mantas” Dunn and drummer Anthony “Abaddon” Bray reuniting to form VENOM INC. broke, it didn’t exactly move my needle. And then I heard the first single from new album Avé (out now, Nuclear Blast Records) entitled “Dein Fleisch” and all I could think was, “Holy shit, this could be REALLY good!” Shortly thereafter the band dropped second single “Ave Satanas” and I was sold. Later that night the record showed up in my inbox and in the time I’ve had it, I’d say it gets a spin at least twice a week. It’s loud, it’s dirty, it’s raw, and sounds like a band just plugging in and going for it, much like they would onstage.
I think it was a wise move to use “Ave Satanas” to open things up because it’s an epic number and sets a sinister, ominous tone. After that is a pair of faster heavy rockers in “Forged in Hell” and “Metal We Bleed” which have a bit of a NWOBHM feel to them. The aforementioned “Dein Fleisch” was an instant favorite. Think of this one as being somewhat like THE SISTERS OF MERCY’S “Lucretia My Reflection” at first before a dark, sexy riff comes in and the predator is on the hunt.
“Blood Stained” is a definite headcrusher and “Time to Die” is a blazing fast speedster that feels like SLAYER on steroids, making it another winner from the door. The riffs on “The Evil Dead” also propel it to the favorites list, and that was before I even got to the hook. Now with all of this said, I just wasn’t hot on “Preacher Man.” While the guitar solo is outstanding, the song itself kind of drags and is simply too long. “War,” however puts us firmly back in beat-yer-ass territory, as does “I Kneel to No God.” Closer “Black N Roll” kicks into fifth gear and is a really great way to end these proceedings on a fast, riff-driven note. Bonus points for the lyrics, too!
All told Avé is a very enjoyable debut from VENOM INC. The classic sound is there in droves, but never once does the material feel dated or stale, even if the album does run a bit long at 62 minutes. Fans of their previous works should be very into it, while it probably won’t change the minds of their detractors. The band is hitting the road to support the record in September with GOATWHORE, TOXIC HOLOCAUST, and THE CONVALESCENCE, and they’re opening the tour right here in Philly. Best believe I’ll be there to hear this stuff live; you should be too!
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Dein Fleisch”, “Time to Die”, “The Evil Dead”, “Ave Satanas”, “I Kneel to No God”