ALBUM REVIEW: VENOM, "WELCOME TO HELL"

I saw that Razorfist posted on his twitter that Venom released Welcome to Hell 39 years ago. I don’t think there’s a whole lot new I can add to the discussion about the album itself.

Venom basically patterned their approach off of Motörhead, that is a power trio lead by a bass playing lead singer, knocking out short, fast, aggressive, and catchy tunes like a punk band, but with heavy riffs and solos, so it’s still a metal band; except without the bluesy or melodic tendencies of Motörhead, and the whole weapons, castles, evil, and Satan imagery in lieu of the former’s biker image. Conrad “Cronos” Lant even kinda sings like Lemmy, with the hoarse vocals.

And, as a result of darker, more Satanic imagery and lyrics, harsher vocals, and a lo-fi production, Venom helped give birth to thousands of thrash, black, and death metal bands. It is a trip, though, how this so called eeevil and scaaary band, which has songs like “Sons of Satan”, “Welcome to Hell”, “Witching Hour”, “One Thousand Days of Sodom”, and “In League with Satan”, also reserves songs for good ol’ fashioned sleazy sex, drugs, ‘n’ rock ‘n’ roll subject matter in songs like “Live Like an Angel”, “Angel Dust”, “Poison” (about catching v.d.), and “Red Light Fever.” My personal favorite on the album is “Schizoid”, which is just about an ax wielding serial killer.


But, nah, you know all of that. I’m using this supposed review of Welcome to Hell to rant about hipsters.

First, read this smug and shitty excerpt from Henry Rollins’ Get in the Van:

"VENOM took almost an hour to get onstage. They had roadies tuning their guitars and shit. Finally, they hit stage. They were hilarious. It was like seeing SPINAL TAP. The drummer had a guy that held an electric fan next to him and kept him high and dry. The singer/bass player was named Kronos [sic]. He had some great raps. He got the crowd to chant what I thought was 'Black Funky Metal' over and over, which I thought was pretty cool and then I thought that maybe I was wrong about these guys. I found out later that it was 'Black Fucking Metal.' Oh, excuse me. I expected them to go into [SPINAL TAP's] 'Sex Farm Woman' at any second. The guitar player was so bad it was painful. I had a great time… The bass player was hilarious. He would wiggle his tongue and roll his eyes. But he also would fix his hair every fifteen seconds or so."

See what Rollins is doing here? Venom isn’t a “serious” band according to him. Black Flag, who was opening for Venom at this show, are a "serious" band, man! They play serious rock ‘n’ roll for serious people! They sing about serious topics and want snooty critics in tweed jackets who write for the "Village Voice" to takes them seriously! Because rock ‘n’ roll isn’t at all about having fun or putting on a good show; it’s about spreading awareness!

Next up, when I met Ian MacKaye, singer for Minor Threat and Fugazi and head of independent label Dischord records, at a show held at a puppet theater in Ypsilanti, MI, he told me that, in the early 80s, he and his buddies had a copy of the “In League with Satan” 45, but would put it on for "comedic reasons"; because, as serious punk rockers with a message, they couldn’t JUST enjoy In League with Satan. They could only enjoy it as some kind of funny novelty record. 

Also, when I talked to my former friend Dan, who I would describe as a hipster metal head (he likes that godawful Sunn O))) bullshit), he told me there’s no reason to get into Manowar or Mercyful Fate, because he already has his “stupid” and “cheesy” metal band, namely Venom. Because, after all, it’s not about the music; it’s about whether these bands are “stupid” and “cheesy.”

So, there you have it folks. Venom (not to mention Manowar or Mercyful Fate) can’t be loved on their own terms, because they’re just a "stupid novelty" metal act, and in order to like rock ‘n’ roll, especially metal, nerds with glasses in tweed coats have to first approve of it and a accord it "social relevance." 

I suppose I could give into their mental framing and raise the point that Venom actually wrote a “socially conscious” song called “Manitou” about the white man killing the Indians. But then, every British metal band that isn’t Sabbath wrote a song about that. Luckily Venom makes theirs cool by turning it into a violent revenge scalping fantasy. And I could also mention how the Melvins (hipster metal) gave Venom some "legitimacy" by covering “Warhead” and “In League with Satan” with Scott Kelly of Neurosis (hipster metal) on vocals.

But, really, it’s not worth it playing their convoluted and pointless game. Venom rule, and hipsters all need to be sacrificed to the Devil.

Edwin Oslan
Revenge of Riff Raff
3rd January, 2021
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