by noisymugwump USER (30 Reviews)
July 19th, 2009 | 13 replies

Release Date: 1985 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Venom's fourth album and the last one worth getting. Fans of "Welcome to Hell" and "Black Metal", get this!

It goes without saying that Venom were an incredibly influential band in the development of extreme metal, playing a form of grimy Motorhead-influenced rock n rollish heavy metal crossing over into harsh and gritty thrash/speed metal styles (way ahead of their time) and laying down the groundwork for what would become black metal (even further ahead of their time). Their first three albums are widely regarded as classics and masterpieces, constituting their "holy trinity". "Welcome to Hell" was the grittiest, sleaziest and filthiest by far, while "Black Metal" refined the sound a bit and focused more on Satanic themes, and finally "At War with Satan" was their most epic , conceptual and concise effort. After permanently forging their name in metal history, Venom devolved their style a bit for 1985's "Possessed", retreading the old grimy sound of their first two albums rather than continuing the progression seen on AWWS. For many this album is seen as mediocre and perhaps even a disappointment, but for those who couldn't get enough of Welcome to Hell/Black Metal it's just what the doctor ordered: catchy, heavy, evil and sleazy songs played by none other than metal legends Venom.

Unlike the sharper, cleaned up sound of At War with Satan, this album brings the production right back down to an uncompromising gritty tone. The mixing and production job is actually even more amateur than on their first two efforts in some regards, showing that these guys really wanted to lay on the filth here. The guitar has a fairly sharp tone with heaps of fuzzy trebly distortion. The riffs as usual alternate between Motorhead-ish rock n rollers, head smashing thrash/speeders and some traditional heavy metal chugging and slightly refined more complex and melodic leads (in contrast to their usual ripping noise solos). Mantas is flyin' solo here, so while leads are going on only the bass is plunking behind them rather than a rhythm guitar holding up the backbone. The drums gallop along to the rockin rhythms and pound in the thrashier sections, doing their job adequately but not outstandingly. The recording on the drums is nice and dull and adds a lot to the primitiveness of the sound. Cronos, the frontman of the group and bassist/singer brings perhaps the most to the table. The guitar and bass are held roughly equally in the mix, so the bass lines are always easily distinguishable. In the faster, thrashier parts he's usually just chugging along, but also bringing in his signature chaotic sliding all over the fretboard. In the more rock n roll style riffs and slow/heavy sections this technique adds all kinds of sleaze to the riffs. The bass fills out the rhythm section perfectly, adding a huge, disgusting, filthy presence to the sound. But that's not all for Cronos, as his vocals are equally integral to Venom's sound, and his lyrics are most excellent. His vocal style is a dirty Lemmy-like grunt or yell (these guys obviously loved Motorhead) and when added to thrash/speed/proto-black metal sound seen here it creates the ultimate in early filth. His delivery is often sinister and satirical sounding, showing that the band were at times tongue-in-cheek. His lyrics and songwriting ability are second to none, creating some incredibly catchy choruses and purveying the image of hell-obsessed drug addled maniacal sex fiends (before black metal groups wore corpsepaint and lit candles they did drugs). Also, "Possessed" doesn't completely ignore the epic tendencies of "At War with Satan", as can be seen in the more technical and complex tracks "Wing and a Prayer" and "Mystique".

While "Possessed" doesn't quite pack the punch of its predecessors, it's well worth investigating and is certainly an important piece of Venom's legacy, being the last great or even listenable album they ever made. The influence Venom's early output had on the development of metal is astounding, perhaps singlehandedly setting in motion all the primitive thrash and speed metal (such as Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Teutonic thrashers like Sodom and Destruction, and South American maniacs like Sarcofago) that would inspire the explosion of black and death metal in the late 80s and early 90s. All of Venom's material up to 1985 was untouchable, undeniably influential, classic and truly outstanding. Any fan of gritty extreme metal should be in love with Venom already, so this should be recommended to those who have only heard their earlier material. If you haven't yet heard these guys at all, well I just don't know about you... get this album immediately, or at the very least blast "Welcome to Hell" at high volumes while smashing your skull on a concrete wall and smoking PCP or snorting speed. Aaaarrgghhh!!!

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user ratings (179)

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 19th 2009


Great work again, good sir, but I'm not really interested in any Venom and I just remembered that I have to get that Necrovore demo, right now.

July 19th 2009


I never bothered to listen to anything after At War with Satan, but if this is as good as you say it is I'll look it up. Excellent review.

blast "Welcome to Hell" at high volumes while smashing your skull on a concrete wall and smoking PCP or snorting speed. Aaaarrgghhh!!!

fucking rules

July 19th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

Just look at the cover, you know it's gonna be good. I don't understand why people bash this album at all. Buncha morons.

July 19th 2009


Later Venom never thrilled me, but I this is mildly interesting

July 19th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

This is hardly "later Venom". It's still part of the original 80-86 era with Mantas on guitar, and honestly isn't that different from Black Metal.

July 19th 2009


Never said it was, just said it was more interesting than later Venom though hardly spectacular, though as far as I'm concerned Welcome To Hell and Black Metal are the only vintage Venom albums.

July 21st 2009


I absolutely hate this band. I absolutely love your reviews. You're one of the best metal reviewers on this site dude.

"Welcome to Hell" at high volumes while smashing your skull on a concrete wall and smoking PCP or snorting speed. Aaaarrgghhh!!!

I would do this if I wanted to get myself in the mood to listen to this hahaha.

December 2nd 2012


first 3 songs are good

July 8th 2013


this is good yo why the low avg rating??$#$23

July 8th 2013


I absolutely hate this band.


December 29th 2015


Album Rating: 3.5


August 22nd 2017


Album Rating: 2.0

This album was a disappointing addition to my collection in 1985. The fun was over, what remained was dull songwriting and fake badness & madness. The first two albums were great, the rest were surrogate.

August 23rd 2023


Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

possess deez nutz

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