Although they were looked down upon during their first go-round, the mark that Venom left on all things metal has loomed large for quite some time. Without Venom, there's a fair chance that we wouldn't have thrash metal or death metal, while the group's early work served as an obvious blueprint for Metallica (just go back to the manic riffing of Kill 'Em All for the proof). And with their classic early releases only available as pricey imports in the late '90s and early- 21st century, an avalanche of compilations appeared, including 2003's The Seven Gates of Hell: Singles 1980-1985. As the title states, the focus here are Venom's singles, but as longtime fans know, most of the group's strongest material was never issued in single form (namely "Black Metal," "Raise the Dead," "Genocide," etc.). So if you're looking for Venom's best cuts, this isn't the place, as rarities take precedence -- several 12" versions ("Die Hard," "Warhead," and "Nightmare"), as well as tracks from the rare Hell at Hammersmith EP ("Witching Hour" and "Teacher's Pet Medley"). A worthy purchase for longtime fans, but newcomers may be better off sticking with Venom's early work or one of their many 'best -of' sets.
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AllMusic Review by Greg Prato