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Venom
Fallen Angels
January 2012
Released: 2011, Spinefarm Records
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

FALLEN ANGELS? More like I’ve fallen and I can’t get up?! BWAHAHAHA!! Really though, this latest entry from Cronos’ traveling Venom roadshow isn’t nearly the train wreck that its predecessor HELL was. Nay, it’s actually a palatable collection of tunes that touch closer to the band’s glory days than most of the post-reunion fodder have been able to. Had a few tracks been cut from the roster, or at least rearranged in the final track list, FALLEN ANGELS is an album that could’ve gone from good to great.



My biggest issue with FALLEN ANGELS is that it gets off on the wrong foot immediately. “Hammerhead” is a by-the-numbers mid-paced chugalong that never really gets the blood flowing. It’s an odd choice to open the album with, but I’m sure that somebody thought it was a good idea at the time. The following track, “Nemesis,” is a generic thrasher that registers a zero on the personality meter, so after a rather limp wristed one-two punch, it’s easy to have low expectations for the rest to follow.



But it’s track 3, “Pedal to the Metal” that’s the REAL album opener. It’s got the speed, the guts, and the gnarly sound that Venom fans have been aching to hear again. THIS is the kind of energy and enthusiasm that should have been the album’s first impression. Other tracks like “Hail Satanas,” “Sin” and “Punk’s Not Dead” follow in similar fashion across the album’s run time, and sound as if they’ve got some legitimate genealogical ties to the first three albums.



The rest of the album is rooted in a more modern metal sound, which while it isn’t the usual Venom construct, the tunes are of a better quality than what we’ve come to expect from recent releases. “Lap of the Gods” has some immediate groove and flashy fretwork courtesy of guitarist Rage, while songs like “Beggarman” and the title track showcase the band’s ability to successfully ride a riff that’s not barreling forth at 100 mph. But for every victory, there’s “Valley of the Kings” and “Death Be Thy Name,” both forgettable tracks that never really click. Also, there’s a deluxe version available with a couple of bonus tracks tacked on that are complete filler and not worth dropping any additional coin over.



Performance wise, Venom has stepped up their game since we last heard them. Rage makes it a point to lay down some solid licks throughout the album, and while he’s no Petrucci, he’s certainly put up more of an effort here than on HELL. The production work is thin enough (intentionally or not) that it’s got that rough and tumble sound of the early days. Hearing the sloppy rumble of Cronos’ bass put a big grin on my face, and new drummer Dante (I’m not even supposed to be here today!) holds the line with little fanfare.



FALLEN ANGELS isn’t without its faults, but it’s a step forward in rebuilding a legacy that’s been tarnished by sub-par releases. It may not be the Venom that we all remember, but it’s probably the closest that we’re gonna get.
Track Listing

1. Hammerhead
2. Nemesis
3. Pedal to the Metal
4. Laps of the Gods
5. Damnation of Souls
6. Beggarman
7. Hail Satanas
8. Sin
9. Punk's not Dead
10. Death Be Thy Name
11. Lest We Forget
12. Valley of the Kings
13. Fallen Angels

Lineup

Cronos – Vocals, Bass
Rage – Guitars
Dante – Drums


Next review: » Venom - Hell
Previous review: » Vengince - Vengince





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