Whether Geordie trio Venom knew they were going to change the world when they recorded their seminal Welcome To Hell debut is up for debate. But the truth is that very few bands have had the seismic and long-lasting impact that Venom had. Follow-up Black Metal cemented their reputation, and the reviews and features on them in the nascent Kerrang! magazine were nothing short of bowel-loosening.
Venom – Live from the Hammersmith Odeon Theatre
Release Date: Out Now
Words: Paul Monkhouse
Here was an outfit that broke out of the meat and potatoes NWOBHM era and put their dark spin on Heavy Metal that combined Motörhead at their most feral with Black Sabbath at their unsettling peak.
Quickly gaining notoriety, this was a world-shattering shift from the relatively cultured and melodic singalongs of the ’70s rockers and the high-decibel terrace anthems of the survivors of the newer wave of hard rock and Metal acts.
The sight of Venom blasting out Too Loud (For The Crowd) in front of a bewildered audience on Channel 4’s Friday teatime television show E.C.T. is burnt into the memory of all who saw it. This strange new beast stood out alongside more expected fare like Girlschool and Warrior.
Whilst most were seemingly uncertain about Venom, a generation of new fans seeking hard and faster thrills welcomed the band with open arms, Metalheads and punks joining together at the sheer visceral power of something so wild.
With one UK headlining tour featuring an appearance at Hammersmith Odeon under their studded belts in 1984, the following year brought a return to the legendary venue, this time with a film crew in tow.
Live from the Hammersmith Odeon is an audio and visual record of the tumultuous night of 8 October 1985. The CD and DVD set provides enough ear-shattering and retina-burning stimulus for fans of the then-burgeoning genre.
This was Heavy Metal at its rawest, the sell-out crowd a mix of the curious and committed, all there to experience something beyond what most had experienced before. This was a new world of noise, and bass player/vocalist Cronos, guitarist Mantas, and drummer Abaddon were the sonic architects of this destruction.
As trios go, they may not have had the class of Cream or the polish and technical wizardry of Rush, but what they lacked in those departments, they made up for in sheer aggression.
Anthems such as Black Metal, Countess Bathory and Welcome To Hell are played here with an almost disturbing glee. The band is more interested in blasting audiences with their own city-block-destroying rock ‘n’ roll than in conjuring up any demons.
More in line with Sabbath than all the church-burning Black Metal outfits that followed, the imagery was always a selling point to get them noticed rather than a way of life, but it certainly added an edge to all they did.
One listen to tracks like Don’t Burn The Witch, Bloodlust, and Witching Hour will make you want to bathe in Holy Water. But taken on a purely musical level, this was bludgeoning stuff that howled in your face whilst splitting your head with an axe.
Despite the very of-its-time filmed intro to the DVD, this full-length peek into their earlier shows is full of all the madness expected and captures the spirit of those days in a heady rush.
Spawning a whole ground-shaking sub-genre that led to world-conquering giants like Slayer being formed, Venom is a cornerstone to all so many hold dear, and this live set is a celebration of all that.
It may not be pretty or particularly clever, but rock ‘n’ roll that changes the world hardly ever is. Venom were leaders of this unholy pack, and Live from the Hammersmith Odeon Theatre gives a glimpse into the bubbling cauldron that they inhabited.
Close the curtains, put the DVD on, grab your liquid refreshment of choice and have the local priest on speed dial.
Live From The Hammersmith Odeon Theatre
1 Too Loud (For The Crowd)
2 Black Metal
4 Countess Bathory
5 Seven Gates Of Hell
6 Bass Solo
7 Buried Alive
8 Don’t Burn The Witch
9 In Nomine Satanas
10 Welcome To The Hell
15 Witching Hour