(Steamhammer/SPV) Enslain Magazine Issue #8
It would be merely presumptuous for me to judge this release based on Venom's cult history and impact on our scene. I'd be lying to say I lived through it and watched it grow, as their history is as old as I am, though I'm certain that a lot of what I listen to today wouldn't have been the same without their influence. But though they coined the term decades ago, I have some difficulty hearing the 'black metal' within this release. The production is quite dark, yet clean and razor sharp, and not raw as 'true' black metal is supposedly made to be. The guitar dynamics are a bit too structured for that as well, and the few lengthy solos would also have you thinking differently. The antichrist subject matter is one of the few traits that suggests otherwise.
But Venom should be above pigeonholing, especially with a release of this magnitude. I wasn't expecting something so powerful from such an aged band, but this is one of those times you're glad you were wrong. The production's sharpness is likely the element that gives these thrashy, dark riffs their impact, assisted by strong drumming and occasional double-bass madness. And the bass and guitar harmonize so well together, you don't even hear the need for a second guitarist. These fourteen short tracks remain deadly to the very end, and if all of their releases are this strong, it's no question how Venom achieved such an exalted status in underground metal.
-- Lady Enslain