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April 2009
Released: 2008, Sanctuary Records
Rating: 1.5/5
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz

Ever since their brief and ill-fated reunion in 1996, Venom has been cascading down the slippery slope of irrelevance with each consistent album and line-up change. With their latest full length, aptly titled HELL, Venom has fallen off the precipice and ruined any semblance of value that the band’s name used to carry.

HELL is at best uninspired and derivative. But quite simply, the album is just bad. Not even funny enough to listen to bad, but so bad that I was actually angry that Cronos can market this abomination as a Venom album in good conscience. The songs go absolutely nowhere and unfortunately it takes almost an hour of listening time to get there. With the exception of a few moments in the title track and “Kill the Music”, every song is plodding and boring. I don’t know where they found new guitarist, Rage, but I hope they kept the receipt because he needs to be returned to wherever they found him. The riffs are repetitive and unimaginative and the few solos that are present here are not even bush league. Seriously, the kid with learning disabilities that lives in the building next to me has a guitar too; if this is the new standard, maybe he could audition for the band when Rage decides it’s time to go.

The verses in “Fall From Grace” have a rap cadence to it that’s as bad as The Chicago Bears’ “Superbowl Shuffle.” “USA for Satan” should have all the qualities of classic Venom, but the band sounds like they recorded the song after chasing a bottle of NyQuil with a Red Bull. It can’t decide what it wants to do or where it wants to go. Okay, so the new stuff is terrible, but there’re two live tracks on the digipack version, “In League with Satan” and “Burn in Hell”– that has to be decent, right? Ahh, no. Their inclusion here is as pointless as the whole exercise itself. “In League with Satan” opens with the crowd chanting for the band, but it sounds like there’s a whopping 4 people in the audience! Same goes for “Burn in Hell” from the METAL BLACK album. The song actually comes across better live than it did on its studio release, but still, what’s the point? With so many live recordings that have been forced down our gullets under the Venom moniker, there weren’t better song selections or performances to pull from?

So a product marketed as Venom will always sell more concert tickets and CDs than one marketed as Cronos, I get it – I really do. But the quality of material included on HELL is so completely sub-par, it vies with Abaddon’s solo abortion I AM LEGION for the coveted “Pointless, Self-Indulgent Crap” award (okay, so Abaddon probably wins that toss up). The playing field in 2009 is much more competitive than it was 25 years ago. With so many hungry bands, likely inspired by Venom, trying to make their mark by pushing creative boundaries, it’s appalling that the band themselves didn’t even bother to step up their game. Rather, they were content to slap the Venom logo on a collection of throwaway songs for a release that likely stole the thunder from a more deserving act, all because of the name on the cover. At some point the fans have to say enough is enough and put and end to such blatant exploitation. Do yourself a favor and avoid this at all costs.
Track Listing

1. Straight to Hell
2. The Power and the Glory
3. Hand of God
4. Fall From Grace
5. Hell
6. Evil Perfection
7. Stab U in the Back
8. Armageddon
9. Kill the Music
10. Evilution Devilution
11. Blood Sky
12. USA For Satan
13. Dirge/The Awakening
14. In League With Satan (live)
15. Burn in Hell (live)


Cronos – Vocals, Bass
Rage – Guitar
Antton – Drums

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