A Triple Dose of Venom

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Whoever said the '80s are gone? One of the forces of heavy metal from the decade that defined the genre is back on music shelves. Don't be fooled, the material isn't new, but for true Venom fans, the three discs that compose A Triple Dose of Venom provides a pretty solid sampling. The first disc, Calm Before the Storm, is just a re-release of the album that hit stores in 1987. Significantly, it was the first recording for the band without their original drummer, giving birth to a slightly different sound and style. All of the songs hit you hard, sparing nothing in terms of noise. Highlight tracks include "The Chanting of the Priests," the longest on the album, as well as "Metal Punk." That title does a great job of summarizing Venom's sound. While they have the typical heavy metal sound, they very much break out into vocal periods that have traces of large punk influences. The second disc is a live performance at Hammersmith Odeon in 1985. It begins unusually, with a classical music intro that quickly leads into "Too Loud (For the Crowd)," which despite being a live song, screams from the speakers with surprising quality. There is a lot more instrumental experimentation on this disc as compared to the studio album, highlighted by the ninth track, a guitar solo, which is a nice interlude after having been pounded with dark lyrics for much of the album. The final disc is another live performance, this time at the Ritz in New York a year later. The quality of the recording isn't as good, and much of the words are hard to make out. But again, there is a lot of instrumental use, and it features a bass solo for the eighth track. The other notable song is "Welcome to Hell." Not being able to actually see the show and the antics of Venom takes away from the music some, because the atmosphere had to be incredible. However, all in all this collection isn't bad. Because the dates of the songs range over three years, the listener gets a good sample of how the themes of Venom shifted slightly from very dark, satanic ones to those more associated with rock & roll.

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