In the early 1980s, this darkly humorous Newcastle thrash trio belonged nowhere. They combined deadly themes and stories of the netherworld that had nothing in common with the burgeoning poodle gloss of British heavy metal.
Yet their 1982 album Black Metal arguably spawned a genre in its image. Bleak and barely produced, its punk-metal charcoal thrash said as much in its own way about the ’80s as Joy Division (who would, by the way, have loved the dental drill opening to Leave Me In Hell).
The album was packed with despondent, Satanic fantasy (courtesy of vocalist Cronos), but there were no frills at all – just the real pitch black stuff – A few example song titles; Buried Alive, Raise The Dead, Sacrifice, Leave Me In Hell, At War With Satan . . . get the general flavour?
The no-budget production made it sound like they were playing in a dungeon; drummer Abaddon started the title track by chainsawing through a bolted door . . .
Venom were the first to really utilise the whole Satan worship angle for maximum shock effect and, although their playing styling wasn’t technical or virtuoso, their sheer power and intensity sent shockwaves through the metal community and appealed to many punks along the way.
Becoming hugely popular in Germany, Holland and Scandinavia, the trio of Cronos (real name Conrad Lant), Mantas (born Jeff Dunn) and Abaddon (real name Anthony Bray) quickly descended into unintentional, beyond-Spinal Tap comedy – they nearly blew up Cronos in an onstage pyrotechnics mishap – and their relevance dwindled with each subsequent release.
But silly though they may have been, their influence is still being felt today. Along with Black Sabbath and Slayer, Venom is one of the three most important forerunners of black metal and death metal.
Cronos (Conrad Lant)
Mantas (Jeff Dunn)
Abaddon (Anthony Bray)