Review Summary: A significant improvement over the last few releases, but a tiresome listen towards the end.
Venom is one of metal's most influential acts, setting the groundwork for thrash and black metal simultaneously. After their first 3 (and best) albums, Welcome To Hell, Black Metal and At War With Satan, Venom quickly spiraled into mediocrity with Possessed, and faded away from interest. Recently re-appearing in the resurgence of classic metal with Judas Priest and Motorhead, the band has released a series of somewhat mediocre but still extremely blasphemous albums. However, Fallen Angels is a definite step up from previous releases Calm Before The Storm and Hell.
One serious advantage to some of their other albums is the clear but gritty production. It gives the tracks a similar feeling to their grinding power of their first few albums, but with a much thicker feel. In terms of technical skill, the band hasn't really got any better, with fairly simple riffs and drumming as well as their varied solo styles. Opener Hammerhead
demonstrates this simply, with small amounts of double bass and a thick and heavy guitar line, as well a nice section of harmony going on around the middle of the song, before entering a decent solo by guitarist "La Rage". In addition, there is a much less "PURE SATAN WORSHIP" vibe here, and simple acoustic track Lest We Forget
and track after, Valley Of The Kings
display less stereotypical Venom lyrics.
The main strength over the previous albums is better songwriting. Thrashier pieces such as Nemesis and
Pedal To the Metal[/b] may feature average lyrical content but the music itself is much more aggressive than other recent material, and feature much improved riffs and are much more concise than some of their earlier works. While some tracks stretch over 5 minutes or longer (Lap of the Gods
) they tend to have more interesting song structures than most of the bands older work, with acoustic sections and variation between riffs. In addition, none of the songs are too
similar to each other, so it is possible to enjoy particular tracks rather than just the album as a whole.
The most obvious issue with the album is however the issue of it being really quite long considering the not especially varied material featured. This means you'll find that the album drags quite a bit towards the end, which is a shame since some of the better musical moments are found there, especially in the powerful title track. This is a serious issue considering the bands music is mostly straightforward speed metal which can be easily compared to Motorhead at times.
Despite this, it's worth noting particular tracks which are especially impressive, and the album has definite few. The title track in particular successfully manages to squeeze songwriting and atmosphere into a song laden with what is easily the band's heaviest riff. The aforementioned Nemesis
also succeeds with some thrashy riffing and quick tempos. Annunaki Legacy
features one of the albums most memorable solos and features simple but catchy riffing.
Overall this is probably Venom's best work since At War With Satan, although it is possibly one of their least distinctive in terms of setting the band's own style, as it borrows features from Slayer, Motorhead and stoner rock. Despite this, the album is a solid listen, but just be warned: it can be VERY REPETITIVE.
Lap Of The Gods