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VENOM – Venomous Reptiles
Dave Reynolds
Metal Forces, Issue 3 (1984)

The world is ravaged by a ferocious nuclear war on such a horrific scale that it makes The Day After look like a normal Saturday afternoon’s sport for the Inter-City Firm. The ground is scorched, the sky a dull grey. A wailing noise emanates from a pile of rubble on the near horizon, once central London. The noise is unbearable. You put your scar-ridden hands to the remains of your ears and scream for mercy. Suddenly, a hunchbacked mutant emerges from a hole in the ground and beckons you near in a rough East London accent, “’Ere mate. Wanna buy the new Venom album?”

After losing a few fans to the evil clutches of newest death metal gods Hellhammer, Venom, the infamous black metal merchants from Newcastle, are preparing themselves for what’s been regarded by some as ‘their year’. Venom are the Neat Record label’s best / worst band; a group who make Motörhead look like Culture Club by comparison. Can you imagine Lemmy dolled up like Boy George?! Me neither! Not the sort of music to make Doe-esque babies to, more constructing supertankers!!

‘Production’ is a foreign word to Venom. If it sounds too good they scrap it. Venom dig up from the depths of the filthiest earth material not normally worth a shit to the music industry, aided by a Mantas guitar sound that makes your tweeters surrender and die. Cronos and Abaddon combine the bass and drums to bring you a sound that is guaranteed to put you off listening to metal on your personal stereo for life (which reminds me, ever listened to Sabbath on the bog?! Woodstock man!!). Venom are metal up yer ass alright. Pass the sick bag Alice Cooper. Venom stop at nothing less than megadeath!! So what’s their appeal?

Mantas: “I don’t know really. Maybe it’s our image or the stage show, or perhaps it’s because we’re the heaviest band in the world. Heavy metal fans want real heavy metal bands these days, and no more of this shitty Foreigner, Styx and Reo Speedwagon stuff. People are sick of all that. When we were over in the States, all you heard on the radio was Journey or Kansas. We were talking to some fans in the US and they don’t want to hear that, they want our kind of music. They don’t even like Raven anymore!” I hear you’re none too keen on Raven either? “Well, I liked their first album and they’re decent blokes, but the new stuff is too commercial.”

At the time of our conversation, Venom had just finished recording their new album and were in the process of mixing it down. “Yeah, it’ll be out in February to coincide with our European tour. It’s called At War With Satan.”

Where is your tour taking you? “We’re starting out in Zurich, Switzerland and then hitting all the major European countries, plus one date in England… possibly in Birmingham?”

As you may know, Britain isn’t Venom’s favourite place these days (nor is it mine). The band’s notorious tent stomper / bassist Cronos explains: “We don’t care for this country. I’m sure you’ll agree, it’s nothing but a fucking shithole. We’re aiming more for a foreign market because that’s where our fans are. We don’t sell enough records in the UK to really bother about it.”

A case of the ‘You hate us, we hate you’ approach and I really don’t blame them. Cronos is the epitome of Venom. An evil maniac, wielding the bass in suitable psycho fashion. The band may not be the most brilliant of musicians, but you can’t help liking what they do in a sort of perverted, masochistic kind of way! Most people can’t abide the group, but there’s not one member of the Metal Forces team who doesn’t like them; lapping up each subsequent release that’s always full of no-holds-barred, no-tits-bared (Witchsmeller Pursuivant… sorry, Witchfinder General they are not! You won’t find any Joanne Latham type wenches on Venom album covers) barrage of mega molten mayhem. Hot, heavy and as soothing as an SS20 up the backside applied by the metal mistress of your choice (take your pick from Betsy Bitch, Wendy O. or Fabienne Shine)!

So, what are Venom’s major plans for 1984? Mantas: “Well, I suppose just hanging around to see the bomb drop! No, we’ve got a new single that should be cut after our tour; ‘Warhead’ / ‘Seven Gates Of Hell’. We might be recording some of the gigs in Europe for a possible live single, and perhaps we’ll do another single just before we go in and record our fourth album in October. We’ve got everything written for it.”

This fourth album will more than likely include a track called ‘Possessed’, which portions of the lyrics have been printed on the back of each Venom album to date. Anything else lined up? Cronos: “We’re doing a new video in Paris to promote the ‘Warhead’ single. Basically it’s to show promoters our stage show, who don’t believe how big it is!”

Yeah, I saw your previous video, it was amazing. It kicked the fuck out of the Kiss live show. “That’s right. But the new stage show is four or five times bigger and better than that one. It’s gonna be fuckin’ unbelievable!”

How much did your original video cost? “Not that much really, About three-four grand, financed by ourselves. The good thing about it was that it turned out the way we wanted it to, and not the way some fuckin’ producer would do it.”

By now you should all have your hands on a copy of the just released At War With Satan album. The band assured me that it “kicks the shit out of Black Metal as much as Black Metal destroyed Welcome To Hell”. Cronos: “That album’s shit, isn’t it?”.

Venom (l-r): Abaddon, Cronos and Mantas
Pic: Phil DiBenedetto

Venom are billed to appear at the Aardschokdag festival along with Metallica, Savage and Tokyo Blade in the Netherlands. The full Venom tour (At War With Europe?) is: Zurich, Switzerland (February 3rd); Vienna, Austria (5th); Nuremberg, Germany (7th); Paris, France (9th); Aardschokdag, Zwolle, Netherlands (11th); Belgium (12th); and the UK (as stated earlier, possibly at the Birmingham Odeon?) on the 14th. Metal Forces will be at least attending two of those dates. The Seven Dates Of Hell!

Finally, what about the ‘feud’ with Mercyful Fate? The question brought hysterical laughter from Cronos, but Mantas remained composed: “Aha! King Billy, we met them (“Y’mean they met us” interrupted Cronos) at last year’s Aardschokdag. They’re okay as people, but we don’t like their music at all.” Enough said.

The future looks good for Newcastle’s baddest. One thing’s for certain, Venom won’t be making any compromises regarding their musical direction. Who dareth play black metal’s heaviest sons of Satan will be a man who hath sense to know what heavy metal is all about.

A tattered cardboard record sleeve bearing the slab of plastic entitled At War With Satan is thrust into your hands. “£4.99 please mate.” The mutant waits eagerly for the torn green ones. “No change I’m afraid.” Your eyes meet, he is truly hideous. In one swift move you kick the bastard in the groin and run off complete with album. “Now this should get a great review in the next Metal Forces,” you smile knowingly. The reptiles have returned.

Interview taken from Metal Forces, Issue 3 (1984)

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