REVIEW: VENOM INC. – “Avé”
Formed in 2015, Venom Inc. is not be confused with English heavy metal band Venom. However, keep in mind they are a sub-creation of the original monster comprising the core line-up of the ‘Prime Evil’ era, with bassist/vocalist Tony “The Demolition Man” Dolan, guitarist Jeffery “Mantas” Dunn, and drummer Anthony “Abaddon” Bray. As per official statement they came into existence – “After more than 20 years and for reasons that will become apparent, along with repeated fan requests”. Venom Inc. brings to you in 2017 – ‘Avé’.
The cover art shows the lord of darkness imagined as the Shepherd herding his sheep as well wearing one, the flute in his hands though giving imagery of the pied piper thus allowing interpretational freedom. I go with that of deception because that’s what happens with the title track “Ave Satanas” which starts off with a rather angelic hymn before gradually going into a state of darkness. With deep growls speaking the path of “free will” and chanting a hail, it then goes on to set a dark tone which you would expect through the entire album. And this is where you’re deceived. “Forged in Hell” quickly switches gears to a heavy metal tune with some good old harmonics on guitar. The structure of the song and catchy chorus bits quickly get you into the groove before Mantas takes off on some great solos. “Metal We Bleed” ramps up the pace even further to thrash metal mayhem with Tony’s manic vocals, frantic yet consistent double bass drumming and some guitar work that can stir up a mosh-pit. The bass work of Demolition Man can be heard bellowing under the nonstop assault of riffs & drums.
The album further comes to life with “Dein Fleisch” with its badass intro starting off with a garage door opening up to some kickass bass lines, eerie screams and a spine-chilling riff. This song discusses a dark subject trenching along the lines of the constant battle to resist temptation, but with a polished tone. “Blood Stained” has a more modern essence to it with more of Abaddon’s amazing drumming buckled to powerful vocals. The record goes into overdrive with “Time to Die” – an amalgamation of thrash and speed metal dominated by machine-gun rhythm guitar, fantastic heel-toe drumming and some great bass lines amidst the breakdowns before building back and following the chaos. “The Evil Dead” is also notable for its echoing chorus lines and no shortage of harmonized lead guitar.
After this point, things slow down with the hard rock ballad “Preacher Man” serving the album’s core message of free will and doing the right thing without external judgement “getting into your head”. Mantas knocks his solo out of the park, and you’ve got to to love those harmonics! “War” doubles down on the speed and anarchy with battles cries before coming to brake on another great anthem “I Kneel to No God”. It again is a great tune, with great messaging that is done without meddling with sentiments on the topic being discussed. The solo has an upbeat vibe and is chicken soup for the metalhead’s soul. The final song “Black N’ Roll” brings the album to an epic close, ending with some rather hilarious monkey business which I will not give away.
This album is less a representation of the devil as a demon and more as a badass dude in a leather jacket riding a motorcycle. It’s high on versatility, agility and keeps the enthusiasm going with a bit of every metal sub-genre in every song. The drumming is great; I love the emphasis on cymbals across portions which give the overall sound a nice peripheral edge without having to take the traditional all-guns-blazing route all the time. The solos are well thought out and often bloom from within a rhythm section rather than appear from nowhere. The guitar harmonics are another highlight of this album; they’re well used, and you never get tired of hearing them. Lastly, the mixing and production quality is top notch, and this package makes for one hell of a record.
‘Avé’ in one word is bad-ass! It has a stronghold on the old-school vibes yet manages to stay abreast among the modern stuff. It successfully offers something to satisfy every metalhead’s taste of subgenres. It discusses deep and dark matters yet provides perspective and positivity in its messaging – and the riffs are a guitarist’s wet dream. You said it yourself Venom Inc.: the album truly is “Black n’ roll”.