From the Very Depths

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The 14th studio long-player from the black metal royals, From the Very Depths opens with the wordless, cacophonous "Eruptus," which not-so-subtly charts (sonically) the ascension of some sort of demonic entity from the bowels of the earth, eventually giving way to the explosive title cut, a four-minute blast of thrash/groove malevolence that sounds more or less like the opening salvo of any of the last seven or eight Venom offerings, right down to sole original member Cronos' welcoming the listener to some new (old) version of Hell with his gruff, cinder-charred voice. To say that, outside of the presence of Cronos, the 2015 version of Venom has little to do with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal legends who pioneered black metal in the late '70s and early '80s, is an understatement, but to their credit, 21st century Venom manage to sound like they're at least entertaining themselves. The architecture may feel a bit phoned in, but the 14-track set is delivered with the panache of pros who know that their names will be written in the cement, as evidenced by stand-out cuts like "Rise," "The Death of Rock N Roll," "Stigmata Satanas," and "Long Haired Punks," the latter of which, a ferocious Motörhead-style banger with considerable cojones, is much better than its a little-long-in-the-tooth title would suggest. Gone is the youthful punk-metal fury that helped launch the group into the annals of heavy metal legend, but From the Very Depths does little to tarnish that reputation, as it's the product of a completely different band. It may bear the mark of Venom, but it lacks the heart-stopping toxicity of its inception.

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