by Ana Krunic
VANCOUVER – Heavy metal forefathers Venom have taken many forms over the past 37+ years. Their history is enough to make your head spin. Formed around 1980 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, the original lineup (or rather, the trio we all know best) made up of Jeff “Mantas” Dunn, Tony “Abaddon” Bray and Conrad “Cronos” Lant are considered to be one of modern extreme metal’s greatest influences. You don’t have to listen for long to see that their dark imagery and aggressive music paved the way for the insane amount of extreme metal subgenres we hear today.
Following a few lineup changes and a couple of major schisms within the group in the late 90s and early 2000s, Cronos continued under the VENOM moniker with new members to fill the empty spaces left by Mantas, Abaddon and later vocalist/bass player Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, among others.
Things got a little more complicated when Mantas and Demolition Man were playing Germany’s Keep It True Festival in 2015. The group was asked if they would play some classic VENOM songs for the crowd if Abaddon, who happened to be there, joined them onstage. “It all kind of happened by accident. We hadn’t spoken since 1998 at that point, and it was supposed to be a one-off thing,” Mantas explains. “But after the overwhelming response we got from our fans, we decided to forge ahead as VENOM Inc. We received all kinds of tour offers and ended up playing more than 200 shows, it really kicked off.”
They really are some of the most prolifically touring bands out there, with a schedule that would make even a 20-year-old musician reconsider their life choices. This year is no exception as they continue with a European tour this summer before heading off to North America with potential South American tour dates coming as well. “To be completely honest, towards the end of every tour I think, ‘how the hell are we gonna get through this tonight?’ But we really have the best fans and there’s no better motivation.”
With such a large catalogue to choose from, nine studio albums under their belt before the band split off, it’s hard for them to even choose what to include in their sets. “Obviously there’s a few classics we’ll usually play but aside from that it’s a tough call.”
Their first album under the Venom Inc. banner, Avé, comes out on August 11th and promises to bring the same energy from their acclaimed live shows and will call back to true particular brand of British Heavy Metal. “I’ll always be an old-school motherfucker,” he laughs.
But Mantas is not interested in beating a dead horse. “I’m really not interested in rehashing the old shit again [for the new album]. It’s good, old-school metal for the die-hard fans but every album I write is with a different mindset. Demolition Man told me, ‘do what you do, be who you are’ and I think those are pretty wise words to follow.”
“Dein Fleisch” was the first offering off of the new album, followed by the heavy groove of “Avé Satanas” whose accompanying lyric video harkens back to the satanic imagery we’ve always loved to see from VENOM. The music is decidedly not the VENOM of yesteryear, but it’s own sound – VENOM inc. “Welcome to hell all you sons and daughters of Satan!” And welcome a new era of a classic band.
Venom Inc. play the Rickshaw Theater on September 15abaddon, black metal, demolition man, heavy, mantas, NWOBHM, Rickshaw, Venom, venom inc