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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Somewhere in Time Tuesday With Metal Mark: Venom - Welcome to Hell

In 1981 the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) was in full swing. Of course this scene would be a huge influence on the whole metal world for years to come even if not every band involved would see great financial success.

Like any scene there were good bad and lousy ones. This trio actually showed traits of both ends of the spectrum, but still managed to knock out one of the most influential albums of the time. Really, these guys could barely play their instruments on this, their debut.

Actually, it would be until almost the end of the decade before Venom sounded like they knew what they were doing. Songs like “Like an Angel” sound they just turned on the record button and just banged and bumped their instruments until someone said “stop.” However, what they did possess was attitude and a willingness to explore. That’s how they managed to knock out tracks like the crushing “Witching Hour,” the blazing “Angel Dust” and the raw, yet brutal title track.

They may have stumbled, clunked and hid behind layers of distortion, but this album and its follow-up Black Metal were huge influences on early thrash bands all over the globe.

I can’t remember whether I heard Welcome to Hell or Black Metal first. However, both albums and the debut in particular made me take notice due to the in-your-face aggressive nature. The fuzzy screeching and haphazard, even sloppy stampede of sound was in direct contrast to bands I was used to like Van Halen and Judas Priest who were so organized and depended on strong production values.

I can only listen to Venom in small doses these days, but that first album is still an album that deserves to be played at least every now and then.

--Metal Mark

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