Sound — 7
Venom formed in 1979, and while initially considered to be part of the NWOBHM, they soon set themselves apart, and are self-proclaimed "black metal." While the band's music is definitely more closely related to thrash metal, the band absolutely did influence the birth of the death and black metal genres, as well as help to flesh out the influence of the first popular thrash metal bands. "From the Very Depths" is the band's fourteenth album, and technically has no singles, though the band has been playing the song "Rise" live. The album is being released on Spinefarm Records, with 14 tracks and a runtime of approximately 51 minutes. The current lineup of the band includes Cronos, as well as newer members La Rage and Dante. That would make Cronos the only remaining original member, though he had previously left the band for approximately 8 years.
The album opens with "Eruptus," which is really more of a 1 minute long soundscape to set the mood of the album than a song. The title track, "From the Very Depths," is the first real song on the album, and it comes out of the gates pretty aggressively and doesn't relent. The song is pretty much a heavy metal gallop through most of the song. "The Death of Rock 'n' Roll" is up next, and this really sounds like something I would expect more from Motorhead with lines like "line up the Marshall stacks, the death of rock and roll, yeah" - even with the vocals almost in the style of Lemmy. "Smoke" has a funky intro with some wah going on with the guitar and a groovy bassline. The guitar riff when it comes in sounds like something that reminds me a lot of the Deftones. "Temptation" is a fast, heavy track that is kind of similar to the band's earlier music in some respects. "Long Haired Punks" is really almost a comical song to me, with comical lyrics, and it sounds like it should be the soundtrack to a chase scene in the move "Airheads" or something like that. "Stigmata Satanas" is another heavy track that is just straight forward heavy music, and at least it sounds like what I would expect from Venom at this point in their career. "Crucified," unfortunately, reminds me pretty strongly of modern heavy rock than any kind of extreme metal. "Evil Law" opens up with some sampled audio that sounds like slow motion straw slurping or something, with some heavy guitars coming in as the sampled audio changes up to people screaming in the background. There is a lot of good heavy riffing on this track. "Grinding Teeth" is another track that sounds like the extreme metal I expect to hear from the band. "Ouverture" is a short instrumental track that seems like it is trying to bring the mood back to where the band wants it, only clocking in at less than a minute and a half. "Mephistopheles" is another heavy track, and probably one of my favorite tracks on the album for pure aggression. "Wings of Valkyrie" shows the guitar and bass mirroring each other creating a very heavy track that uses a lot of triplets/gallops in a classic heavy metal style. The album closes out with the track "Rise," which sounds like it was either recorded live, or spliced with a live recording. Not a bad note to end the album on, at all.
Lyrics — 7
Cronos provides vocals as well as bass guitar for the band, and it was his vocals which helped the band inspire the death and black metal genres, as well as their dark lyrics. On "From the Very Depths" the vocals are a little more discernible, which is the direction the vocals have been going lately. This gives the vocals a more contemporary heavy rock sound to them, though musically the band is still squarely in the realm of extreme metal. Mostly the lyrics themselves are fairly dark, but are often unintentionally funny or cheesy.
As a sample of some of the (tamer) lyrics, here are some from the track "Long Haired Punks": "Bat out of hell/ engines ablaze/ riding the night/ flying through days/ hell bent for mayhem/ so full of spunk/ black metal gods/ long haired punks/ a deadly quest/ disgusting and damned/ dogs of mayhem don't give a damn/ screaming aloud/ f--ked up and drunk/ y'all watch out/ we're the long haired punks/ a bad example/ up for a fight/ breaking the law/ demonic delight/ a dark destroyer/ morals are sunk/ we're power metal/ long haired punks/ fight for survival/ hitting the road/ get out my way/ time for a show/ we blast metal/ no hip-hop or funk/ demons from hell/ long haired punks."
Overall Impression — 6
I can't really complain about the album, as it seemed to be pretty solid, though it didn't really shine at any point, either. It definitely isn't going to redefine the band's sound or re-invigorate their fanbase, but it is a solid release. My favorite songs would probably be "Mephistopheles," "Smoke" and "Long Haired Punks." I didn't necessarily dislike any songs on the album, but there were several that seems like they should have been B-sides on a single.