I was out in LA on business when I first got the Ave files for a listen. It worked out quite well because while I’ll love Los Angeles, the traffic experience there is worse than sitting on the New York Subway system in Mayor DiBlasio’s NYC. (Can someone please get Mayor Mike back? I’ll actually take Dinkins at this point to be honest.) Anyway, I put my flash drive into my rental Buick (this was supposed to be a “premium” car by the way) and just cranked it while I was stuck on Hollywood Boulevard. Ave was the perfect soundtrack to the dark and dingy streets of East Hollywood (you know, the untrendy section) at night. Ave is dark and dirty music for an increasingly darker and dirtier world. While the sound wasn’t as rich as it would be in the Mark Levinson sound system I have in my home ride (I guess that sound system upgrade is a business expense now, no? (Just kidding IRS!)) the power of Venom Inc. still resonated quite well – shaking Detroit’s lousiest sheet metal to the core. Might have blown a speaker or two in the Buick, but I think I was doing the next renter a favor.
“Ave Satanas” is a crushing opener. You’re going to put the needle on Side A and just go “Wow.” It’s not that we didn’t know these guys had this record in them, it’s that it took a while for them to actually come together and get to this point.When Venom Inc. formed as a result of Dolan (who was working with Mantas) getting back together with Abbadon in 2015, was anyone thinking this gem of record would come out of it? I’ll admit it – I didn’t But here we are. Tony Dolan’s vocals really fit well and bring it all together. This first track is Mickey Dee era Motorhead, classic Venom and, a bit of Ozzy’s heavier solo work rolled into a dark yet hard head-banging type punishing track. Can’t wait to hear this live and it would be a tremendous live opener.
“Forged In Hell” is one helluva a song that follows up the first. This is my favorite on the album largely because of the musicianship I just love the guitar on this track. Jeff “Mantas” Dunn completely shreds on this track. It’s got some great harmonics that tie to the verses and the solo is something out of Zakk Wylde’s playbook, ending with some elegantly understated chorus pedal work. Drums on this cut really stand out as well with some great symbol work mixed in really succinctly with the bass pedals. The song is pure black and roll yet also brings the listening to the next level of interest in terms of being able to hear all of the unique little riffs and fills that come at you so quickly.
Lyrically, this is Venom we’re talking about here so nobody is going to be winning any Nobel prizes for literature. But that’s good. There’s also no pretentious post-Graceland Paul Simon self-importance here. There is, however, some true to the spirit thoughts on organized religion, the Judeo-Christian God and men of the cloth. Let’s face it – this is what we expect. The choruses are undoubtedly catchy and there’s going to be a ton of fist-pumping to “inside dein fleisch” at their shows with Goatwhore later this summer.
Look. A second Black Metal this isn’t. But who needs that? This is beyond. Evolved. It’s fresh with classic elements. It’s dark and dingy but its also quite fun. It’s sweaty, pulsing black and roll that’s also going to put a smile on your face.
A word to my fellow academics out there who continue to insist that Venom played fast and loud because they “couldn’t really play their instruments…” Stop. Take a listen to this record, and frankly much of the Venom and Mantas catalogs. There’s much more to these Venom guys. And if you’ve been afraid to gives these blokes a go because you’re worried there aren’t enough technical leads or awkward time structures in Venom’s music, you’re missing out. Yes, Dragonforce this is not. But if you’re looking for heavy music that sounds pissed yet well composed, Ave is where you want to be. Standouts for in addition to the the first two tracks are “Dein Fleisch,” “I Kneel to No God” and soon-to-be anthem “Black and Roll.” If you love Motorhead, Black Label Society, earlier Ozzy, and, of course, Venom… this is a first day purchase.