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Released to coincide with the New Wave of British Heavy Metal legend's 25th anniversary, MMV lovingly reconstructs Venom's long and twisted road from obscurity to underground legend through four discs packed to the goat horns with outtakes, demos, radio spots, interviews, and good old-fashioned black metal. Compiled by singer/bassist Conrad Lant, better known to fans as Cronos, MMV lays to waste any notion that the band -- and its ever-revolving door of members -- was riding the coattails of contemporaries like Judas Priest, Motörhead, and Black Sabbath. Their influence on the emerging thrash and death metal scenes spawned groups like Slayer and Metallica (the latter is billed as the opening act on a reproduction of an included early-'80s tour poster), but it was their adherence to the dark side that set them apart from imitators. Cronos once described Ozzy Osbourne as a man who would "sing about evil things and dark figures, then spoil it all by going 'Oh God, help me!'" It was a sentiment that would remain virtually unchanged, even throughout the hair metal-obsessed '80s and '90s. Longtime fans will no doubt revel in the newly remastered versions of classic tunes like "In League with Satan," "Black Metal," "Acid Queen," and "Welcome to Hell" -- their early recordings were notoriously muddy -- but it's the extras, including a 60-page booklet plastered with photos and memorabilia from Cronos' personal collection, as well as the myriad of rare and previously unreleased cuts, that make this box so essential.

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