Review Summary: Venom did something that would undoubtedly shape the genre of thrash metal. Welcome to Hell is a great example of that.
Venom formed in late 1979 and came to the metal scene towards The New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Except, they weren't like anything like the heavy metal bands to come out of England, nor anywhere else around the world. Adopting pseudonyms, satanic lyrics, harsh vocals, their image and evil musical sound was something that had never been so dominant throughout the metal scene before.
Venom failed to achieve any mainstream success, but are highly regarded as a huge influence on the genre of thrash metal and extreme metal, they also coined the phrase 'black metal'. Venom weren't also known for being particulary good musicians, as a matter of fact they extremly poor musicians often playing their instruments in a simple, crude way, also complete with downtuned guitars to give that 'black metal' feel to the album. Also,I might add that the production is somewhat fuzzy, cheap and extremely crude.
'Welcome to Hell' didn't coin the phrase 'black metal' immediately. But however, it does contains the characteristics of black metal and thrash metal that would later proceed 'Welcome to Hell'. Fast guitars, unmelodic and often harsh vocals, basically all the features that we expect from bands that are from a similar genre such as Slayer who came a few years later.
Anyway, general stuff aside and let's review the album.
Upon listening to the album, the first track that will hit your ears will be "Sons of Satan", typical speed/thrash metal song with satanic lyrics etc. Not a stunning track, but a promising start for what's to come next.
"Welcome to Hell" is the track afterwards and is more of a typical trash/black metal song than "Sons of Satan. It contains some great guitar work though, and a great headbanger, especially towards the bridge section. One of my favourites.
"Schizo" comes after "Welcome to Hell". It's nothing special or particulary interesting but does keep you listening. As does "Mayhem with Mercy" (which is a short acoustic instrumental) and quickly follows is "Poison", which seems to be about making loves to the Devil's daughter. Very c reepy. Another great track.
"Live like an Angel, Die Like a Devil" is another killer track with some pretty nice guitar work which for extreme metal, is quite melodic in some senses, coupled with some harsh vocals and quite a fitting solo as well. Soon follows is "Witching Hour" which, again, is another killer track and another intense headbanger as well.
"A Thousand Days in Sodom" is another good track but nothing really that makes you jump from your seat in amazement.
The last three tracks of the album, however are absolutely awesome album closers. Such as "Angel Dust" featuring extremely fast guitar and momentary screeching vocals, also complete with quite a nice solo. "In League With Satan" is just pure evil and " Red Light Fever" is another solid metal track.
Overall, Welcome to Hell is a solid debut release and is something rather different from its predecessors. If you are a fan of any kind of metal, I'd recommend this quite highly, indeed. It does have its negative points, like I mentioned previously with the cheap production etc. But a solid listen, nonetheless.
Fast, easy to listen to and heavy
Quite short in duration
Different from a lot of metal albums
People might grow tired of unrelenting Satanic lyrics for every song
Shoddy and fuzzy production
People might want something that sounds less evil
Welcome to Hell
In League with Satan
Live Like an Angel (Die like a Devil)