"It takes two to destroy a marriage."
SOME OLD SHIT WORTH LISTENING TO AGAIN - VENOM'S "POSSESSED"
by Richard Karsmakers
Whereas I've gone back about 2 decades for some of the earlier
albums highlighted in this column, this time I'd like to stick a
bit closer to the present day. I'm talking mid-eighties here, a
period that saw the blooming of the heavy metal scene we know
today, a time when Metallica was a legend in the making and when
some other bands trod unholy ground that had never been explored
before. I am talking 1985 here, the period when the two big names
in Unholy Metal were simple and unquestioned: Slayer and Venom.
I started listening to Venom in 1983 or 1984, not too long after
they had released their momentous second album, "Black Metal".
Even by today's standards it's one hell of an extreme album, even
if you forget all about the Occult imagery and repeated
referrings to Lucifer, Lillith Fayre and, more straightforward,
I really can't tell if I initially liked Venom just to shock my
dad in a bout of my pubescence or because I actually liked the
music. I did know the music moved me, stirred something that the
previous "heavier" bands I'd liked (Kiss and Saxon, basically)
had not been able to stir even slightly. "Black Metal" was simply
awesome, with vocals that sounded more like vomiting than
anything else, with guitars distorted immensely and, yes, lyrics
that would certainly not agree with many people.
It was a good time, back then. Heavy metal bands only did new
things, taking to further extremes the directions that had been
shown by Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and, probably,
Thin Lizzy. A new scene was born.
At the time I really couldn't afford buying a lot of records to
I home-taped all Venom stuff I could get. "At War With Satan" was
next, and "Welcome to Hell", of course. Venom also released a
good few EPs such as the classic "Warhead" effort. Excellent
stuff. I think it was definitely the worst thing ever to happen
to the development of my musical taste, or at least that's what
my dad would have opined had someone asked.
There were other bands, too. Slayer, of course. And Tank.
Iron Maiden. And Hellhammer (may these gods of death metal
R.I.P.). Early Voivod, even. That was way before I ever got into
guitar players like Malmsteen. I could have become a seriously
nasty individual if it hadn't been for the fact that the heavy
metal people I knew were all a lot like me - no leather jackets
and all the outward imagery of heavy-metallism, but just an
extreme musical taste coupled with a far less extreme way of
behaviour, hair style and dress code.
I was young and impressionable. I am certainly glad I stuck to
the music, not to the outward signs of heavy metal hooligan-dom.
In 1985, Venom released "Possessed", their fourth full-length
album and the last that was halfway decent. They were already
going down, because "Possessed" was a lot less violent and
original than, for example, the most excellent "At War With
Satan" that had been released one your prior. No 20-minute
collections of quite ingeniously gathered riffs and ultra-extreme
lyrics this time.
Then why did I select this album for this column? Well,
"Possessed" was the only Venom album I didn't have on CD until
well over half a year ago, when Castle Communications finally
released it. I immediately got out and bought it, especially
because it was dead cheap (a mere 20 Dutch guilders, i.e. about
US$ 12 or 13). I know "At War With Satan" and "Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik" are hard to get, too, but I got those already,
basically each time because I was quick enough to buy them before
they were taken out of production again.
Certainly, "Possessed" is still (fairly) classic Venom. Songs
like "Satanachist" and the excellent title piece are more than
excellent, and personally I also like the instrumental
"I am possessed by all that's evil
The death of your god I demand
I spit at the virgin you worship
And sit at lord Satan's left hand"
It was good stuff. I shudder to think what could have been done
with the actual sound if someone like Scott Burns had had the
opportunity to produce it.
Anyway, "Possessed" is now available on CD so none of the black
metallers out there should neglect to buy it. After "Possessed"
it only went further downhill with the band - "Eine Kleine
Nachtmusik" was a half-mediocre double live album, and "The Calm
Before The Storm" was far less impressive than anything that had
come before. And after that, of course, vocalist/bassist Cronos
left. The band has never before been the same, becoming power
metal with a glam outfit and, as can be witnessed by the few new
tracks on the Venom tribute album, an industrial lot now.
So if you want to capture once more a Venom with Cronos before
the ultimate downfall, get "Possessed".
I am a bit of a Venom fan, still (Venom with Cronos, that is). I
know of the following CDs out with him on it, and I'd be jolly
pleased if you could make me aware of any CDs that might be
available locally that I seem to be lacking. Do note: I am only
interested in CDs that offer tracks that aren't on the
"WELCOME TO HELL"
Production is simply awful, but it's the first album that was
every this aggressive. Awesome.
Probably the best black metal album of all time.
"AT WAR WITH SATAN"
An excellent album on all accounts. More refined, though, but
only slightly less radical.
"EINE KLEINE NACHTMUSIK"
Not too bad, but it definitely can't compete with really good
"THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM"
About as calm, too.
"THE SINGLES 1980-1986"
Contains all the singles, including "Warhead", "Bloodlust" and
"LIVE OFFICIAL BOOTLEG"
Taped at the same concert as the "Seventh Date of Hell" video. A
different mix, one or two songs omitted, and less quality than I
had expected. They should just have used the video soundtrack,
for that was properly mixed.
"SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET"
A collection of rare and unreleased stuff. Not too bad, but
thank god it was cheap.
Stuff I'm seeking on CD in particular is the studio version of
"Nightmare", and possibly the tracks on the vinyl "Manitou" EP?
And I'd give my right hand and sell my soul to the Horned One
from Downstairs for "Combat Tour" (a video that features live
stuff of Slayer, Venom and Exodos) and "At War With Satan" (the
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