Hard to believe that Cronos has held this incarnation of Venom together for ten years now. Ten years is quite the achievement in anything band related, but I think that this is probably because he calls the shots with the songs, production, and general direction. No power struggle often makes things a bit more stable. Of course, we have original Venom Guitarist Mantas and his incarnation of the band called Venom Inc (Cronos won the rights to the Venom name).
Storm the Gates is the 15th release from Venom. We are a long way from Welcome to Hell and Black Metal, but those two releases, as everyone knows, mean that whenever the band release something, there will always be some level of interest. With that said, have things changed that much? Well, no, they never have with Cronos at the helm.
The things that make Storm the Gates so good are also what some will find is wrong with it. There is no intent here to write anything other than what Cronos knows how to write – Primal, without frills, to the point, noisy, and bone headed metal. Sometimes though, things are a bit clumsy. ‘Over My Dead Body’ for example is just too heavy handed and lyrically laughable. However, there is a section where it goes clean and ambient, and is something that shows Venom can pull out other tricks now and again. ‘Suffering Dictates’ is a real highlight and sounds like the band of old if they could play better and tighter back then. It has a really cool NWOBHM sounding riff that a young Metallica would have creamed themselves over back in 1982. ‘I Dark Lord’ is a direction that I’d like to see further explored, and seems like the song that likely inspired the cool as fuck artwork on the album cover. My favorite track is ‘Immortal’. This banger sounds like prime mid-eighties Thrash Metal complete in the vein of say Vio-lence or Nuclear Assault, love it!
The mix is perfect with the guitar tone suitably scratchy and nasty, and everything as loud as it should be. The drums are very natural sounding, and of course the bass is nice and dirty without being overpowering in true Cronos style.
If Storm the Gates was 10 tracks as opposed to 13, then it would be even better. Sometimes, less really is more. For a few tracks, the quality just isn’t there and they probably should have been left in the rehearsal room, or perhaps some of the better riffs recycled for the next record. That aside, Storm the Gates is one of the better offerings from Venom in quite some time, and should keep the rabid hordes satiated for a short while.