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3.80 | 12 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Thrash Metal


1. Prime Evil (4:24)
2. Parasite (3:04)
3. Blackened Are the Priests (4:10)
4. Carnivorous (2:08)
5. Skeletal Dance (3:07)
6. Megalomania (5:15)
7. Insane (2:51)
8. Harder Than Ever (3:09)
9. Into the Fire (3:12)
10. Skool Daze (4:19)
11. Live Like an Angel, Die Like a Devil (3:54)

Total Time: 39:36


- Anthony Bray / drums
- Tony Dolan / bass, vocals
- Jeffrey Dunn / guitars
- Al Barnes / guitars

About this release

Under One Flag, October 9th 1989.

Thanks to windhawk, Unitron for the updates


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Venom is one of those bands that's sadly more known for their influence rather than the actual music they created. Ask anybody, and they'll probably say something along the lines of "Oh yeah, Black Metal. What an influential album!" or "Welcome to Hell, maybe the first speed metal or black metal album!". Will anyone ever comment on the actual quality? Probably not, and if they do it probably would sound like this: "Ehh, it's okay". I probably wouldn't argue a whole lot if they had only made their first five albums (Though I do really like their first two). However, nobody seems to remember that the band's kept at it, and got 100 times better.

Enter 1989, and here is what I think is Venom's finest hour. Prime Evil is the first out of a few albums to feature Tony Dolan on vocals rather than frontman Cronos, who had left the band after the failure of 1987's Calm Before the Storm. You may be thinking how Venom would continue with the loss of their iconic frontman, but I honestly prefer Dolan's vocals. He maintains the spit and snarl of Cronos, while adding a bit of melody as well as that extra attitude needed for thrash metal.

You know what this album's got? It's got grooves, it's got hooks, and under Venom's command you will headbang. "Blackened are the Priests" has a simply killer groove made with the syncopation of the groove of the guitar riffs and the walloping of drums. "Parasite" and "Carnivorous" are pure thrashers, with the former being addicting as all hell and the latter having a bit of black metal guitar work for flavor. "Skeletal Dance" really shows off Anthony Bray's massive drum sound, with the bridge sounding absolutely colossal. That blended with the piercing guitar sound and screeching, it's like entering an ancient arena.

Usually a cover wouldn't be considered a main highlight, but Venom knocks it out of the park with their cover of Black Sabbath's classic "Megalomania". Man, I love the original, but Venom just gives it a whole new sound and brings such a fresh high energy to the beloved classic. "Harder Than Ever" brings in a more traditional heavy metal sound, especially with the main riff sounding right out of an early Motley Crue album. This is a should be metal anthem, it is just so fun.

While black metal fans may not be too happy, thrash fans like myself can rejoice for what's a real hidden gem that too few people even know exist. There's only one real weak moment on the album, and that's the ridiculously cheesy and somewhat forgettable "Skool Daze" which sounds out of place, but that doesn't do much damage to what's otherwise a flawless masterpiece. If you like your thrash both melodic and spitting, give Prime Evil a try.
Violent lineup convulsions followed The Calm Before the Storm, which saw Cronos and both guitarists leave and Mantas return, with a new guitarist and bassist/vocalist in tow. The end result, whilst in no sense iconic or even influential, is still a pretty damn entertaining thrash album which goes a long way towards undoing the mistakes of the previous album.

Tony Dolan of Atomkraft proves to be an inspired successor to Cronos on vocals - his style is not quite as bestial as Cronos, but he's still able to lend just as much bile and vitriol to the lyrics, and the musical backing is once again muscular and aggressive enough to match. The album is let down a little by a sense that the band were short on songwriting ideas - School Daze is a blatant retread of Teacher's Pet from Black Metal - though at least the obligatory Black Sabbath cover is decent. (Actually, I think it's a more exciting and interesting runthrough of Megalomania than the Sabs' original.)

On balance, the album is no lost classic, but anyone who enjoyed the band's first three or four albums will probably find plenty to enjoy here; certainly it's a more suitable followup than The Calm Before the Storm was. At the same time, I'd much rather just listen to Welcome to Hell yet again than give this one a spin on the regular.

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