I remember the first time I put on the legendary Music For Nations sampler Speed Kills for the first time way back in the early eighties. It’s not exaggeration to say that the album blew my mind, showing just how exciting heavy metal could be in the post-NWoBHM age; as a punk brought up on GBH, Discharge and Motörhead, it showed me just how visceral and exciting metal at the edge was. I was excited.
So you can imagine how earth shattering it is, some thirty-five years plus later, to have those feelings reignited by a bunch of guys, the majority of whom are my age and older, with an album that is so thunderously good it reels in the years at warp speed pace with nary a thought for the consequences…
That album is There’s Only Black, by Venom Inc.
Y’see, few can fuse the worlds of classic metal, raging hardcore and well, steaming black n’roll for want of a better term, quite like guitarist Mantas and his singing pal and wielder of the four string motherfucker, Demolition Man. Five years may have passed since Venom Inc’s rather splendid debut, Avé, half a decade which has seen original drummer Abaddon put out to pasture and Mantas suffer serious health issues; but that hiatus hasn’t dulled the glint in either man’s eye, resulting in a spectacular return with There’s Only Black.
Like Geordie brethren Raven, Venom Inc have been reignited by a new drummer, Jeremie ‘War Machine’ Kling, whose lithe, bombastic approach to skinbeating has absolutely taken the band to possibly undreamed of levels of ferocity. Second track, Infinitum, is shockingly good, but there isn’t actually any real way of singling individual moments out here – there are simply no weak points on this record. Everything is a highlight.
So, whilst the best parts of Avé were just that – the best parts – on There’s Only Black the band refine their black n’roll assault into an amorphous, ever flowing mass of brilliance. Everywhere you look, from the out and out madness of the title track, through the proggy mid and end sections of Tyrant, to the strident retelling of Dante‘s infernal tale in Nine, the band discover new ways to bang heads with ruthless, cold-eyed efficiency.
Tony Dolan continues to grow into his role as a bona fide metal legend, contributing cement-mixer bass to the mix yes, but also contributing some of the best lyrics you’ll hear from an extreme metal band; the manic agit-punk-cum-thashstravaganza that is Don’t Feed Me Your Lies is a superb case in point, Dolan’s wild eyed delivery backed by Kling’s heart-stopping percussive maelstroms and some riffage from Mantas that can only rightly be described as unforgiving. It’s this punk edged metal where the band score highest for your not so humble interlocutor but, as noted, that’s not to belittle the uniformly excellent material elsewhere. But – and it’s a very big but indeed – if there’s a better end to a song than the Slayeresque mayhem of ...Lies to be heard this year, I’ll be a very happy man indeed when it’s brought to my attention.
So there you have it. Venom Inc. have spawned an absolute monster in There’s Only Black – and it ‘s an album that demands the attention of right-thinking noise lovers everywhere. Buy or die!
There’s Only Black releases on September 23rd.