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VENOM - Storm The Gates

Released December 14/18 (Spinefarm)

Venom are back with their 15th official studio album (not counting the 2017 release by their long-lost brothers in Venom Inc.). The album starts out promising enough, with the opener "Bring Out Your Dead", an historical ditty about the Black Death that is catchy enough to be memorable.

But from there the album devolves into mostly forgettable, mid-paced filler. The songs are all heavy and none are bad, but they lack any sort of hook that would make you want to reach for it repeatedly. Mediocre song writing is the main weakness here.

Cronos' vocals are thick with age, but that is not a surprise given the band is more than 40 years old. His bass work is as spotty as ever, but drummer Danny Needham and guitarist Stuart Dixon are able to bring the instrumental mix up to a professional grade.

Oddly the album gains strength as it nears completion, as the best songs were left to the end instead of put up front to hook the listener. "Immortal", "Storm the Gates", and especially "We the Loud" are all worthy additions to the legendary Venom old-school thrash catalogue. If this 13 song, 50+ minute effort had been 8 songs and 30+ minutes, it would have helped the cause significantly.

Venom have not put out a truly great album since 1989's Prime Evil, and at this point in their career, it is doubtful they will ever achieve that goal again.


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