Record Reviews

Album review: Venom Inc “There’s Only Black”

Venom veterans soldier on with fab new thrashy Venom Inc album. Mantas’ excellent guitar riffs and Tony Dolan’s brutal vocals and heavy bass are anchored by Jeramie Kling’s frenetic and unapologetic drumbeats.

The musical partnership of Jeff “Mantas” Dunn and Tony “The Demolition Man” Dolan goes back to the 1980s when they played together in pioneering English heavy metal band Venom. They later continued their partnership in the bands Mantas and M-Pire of Evil. In 2015 they formed Venom Inc to both celebrate the old Venom catalogue and create new music. Venom Inc debuted in 2017 with the very strong album “Avé” and now the follow-up, “There’s Only Black”, is here. What do these gentlemen of metal serve up this time? In short, a terrific album of sinister thrash metal. It builds on the foundation that “Avé” established but they have taken things further this time. The overall soundscape is a mixture of old-school Venom, big doses of Slayer and, of course, Venom Inc. The result is fierce and relentless. While “Avé” had programmed drums, this time American multi-instrumentalist Jeramie “War Machine” Kling (Inhuman Condition, The Absence, Fore, Massacre, Ribspreader, Goregäng, Ex Deo, Dritt Skit, Smoke & Mirrors) is adding his furious drumming to the songs. Kling has been playing live with Venom Inc since 2018 and the global touring has eased him into the band. Now he sounds as if he was born to occupy the drum stool in Venom Inc. The music has some easily recognisable and characteristic parts to it: Mantas’ excellent guitar riffs and Tony’s brutal vocals and heavy bass are anchored by Kling’s frenetic and unapologetic drumbeats. Back in the day, Venom gave name to an entire subgenre with its second album, 1982’s “Black Metal”. And, of course, many of the black metal bands that then emerged were influenced by Venom. But Venom’s sound was more of a thrashy extreme metal than the typical black metal sound they inspired. It was an unholy, stenchy stew of NWOBHM, thrash, speed, death and black metal. This remains the case with Venom Inc today. The album’s twelve tracks are all solid, but I immediately find a few pummelling favourites, such as the relentless “Nine” and “Rampant”. The title track “There’s Only Black” is excellent modern thrash metal. “Burn Liar Burn” is perhaps the musical zenith of the album. This epic song starts with a terrific three-minute instrumental section before the vocals kick in and the song morphs into a fierce thrash metal song, only to swing back again towards the end. The album is well-proper, far beyond expectations. Dolan’s workshop of brutality in England and Mantas’ riff factory in Portugal have worked overtime with these songs and the result is ridiculously good. What great musicians and songwriters they are, not least when they combine their talents. Mantas is on fire throughout the album and Dolan is overflowing with energy. On a track like “Come to Me”, we really get to hear the magic of the Mantas-Dolan partnership. Mantas manages to get his guitar to sound both playful and cheeky as well as sinister in the same Dolan-penned song. There is so much good stuff on this album that I will never tire of listening to it. With the Venom legacy taking up space in the Venom Inc trunk, it can be hard to move on and create something new. That does not seem to be a problem for these lads. Venom Inc shows have been dominated by classic Venom songs from the 1980s and 1990s. But now that they have two great Venom Inc albums under their belts, I think that all the terrific new songs may start creating a headache for the band. This music deserves to be played live. As much as I love the old Venom classics, I’d be quite satisfied with a Venom Inc setlist consisting only of songs from the two Venom Inc albums. Yes, they are that good. Thank you for the music, boys.

Venom Inc’s “There’s Only Black” will be released on 23rd September via Nuclear Blast.