1984, Music

At War With Satan (1984) by Venom

I don’t know why I skipped Black Metal last year. I may have listened to it once but I honestly don’t remember. If I did listen to it, I assume that I didn’t hear black metal, and read something about how it was more the title and the production values, rather than the music, that gave the genre its name. But if it sounded anything remotely like this, I’m kicking myself for not giving it more time.

This is kind of an insane record, with one track taking up all of side one – ostensibly inspired by “2112” – and six tracks on side two, one of which is basically just a joke, and another of which features a pretty awful vocal. (That is saying something for this band.)

The title track is so gargantuan I’m having a hard time time thinking about what to say about it, beyond how bonkers it is that someone recorded a 20 minute long metal “song” in 1984 that borders, at times, on thrash. The other tracks very in quality. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d recommend the album based solely on the material, I think you might have to really really like the aesthetic.

About that: This is a small band – a trio who use few overdubs (as far as I can tell). As a result the sound should be lean (and it sort of is) but it’s dirty, both due to the distortion on the guitar and bass and because of Cronos’ voice (which is, from a musical standpoint, terrible). The recording itself is also not good. What we have here appears to be the faintest germ of black metal. The music is perhaps not quite loud and grimy enough, and Cronos doesn’t quite growl in the way that the genre demands but, otherwise, it sure does sound further along the spectrum towards that genre than any other record I’ve heard from 1984 or earlier. It’s remarkable.

I haven’t given it higher marks because there is at least one track here that I can’t really get over – it’s kind of awful – and because I’m not sure if anyone beat them to it. Anyway, it’s probably a classic.


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