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(Album Review) VENOM INC. - There's Only Black (Nuclear Blast)

Written by: Jeff Tighe

There's Only Black is the second full length from Venom Inc., the Venom offshoot band of guitarist Jeffrey "Mantas" Dunn and bassist/vocalist Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan. However, given that the two of them also collaborated on three other Venom albums, as well as two Mpire of Evil albums over the last 35 years or so, it can be safely said that they have a solid discography behind them.

This latest effort starts out very strongly, with "How Many Die", a thrash number with an almost staccato riff that is reminiscent of Slayer. The following two songs "Infinitum" and "Come to Me" are also fast thrash oriented blasts that will get the attention of even the hardest of hardcore metal enthusiasts. The title track follows, and although it is a touch slower than the previous songs, it is still a catchy metal number with lyrics that are outright atheistic. Lyrically the Venom and Venom Inc. albums with Dolan are stronger than with the Cronos led Venom simply because they tend to shy away from non-stop Satanic buffoonery.

However, the quality of the back two-thirds of this 12 song, 54 minute effort doesn't quite keep up with the opening salvos. The last 8 songs are good, but the band clearly put the strongest and best written tracks up front.

Dunn's guitar work is as strong as ever, and there are interesting phrasings sprinkled throughout, such as near the end of "Tyrant". In the early 1990s Dolan's snarling, guttural vocals made him the quintessential voice for extreme metal. Dolan's voice is thicker now that he is pushing 60, but there is still more than enough menace left to pull off this kind of music. Drummer Jeramie "War Machine" Kling at a sprightly 40 years old has no problem keeping up with his older band mates whether they are moving at light speed or a more plodding pace.

Songs such as "Don't Feed Me Your Lies", "Man as God" and "Nine" are fast and intense enough to keep them interesting, but the catchy hook isn't really there that is required to make them great songs.

All in all There's Only Black is an entry in the Venom family discography that long time fans should take the time to listen to and decide for themselves where it stacks up in the long history of the band and its spawn.



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