"Fallen Angels"

By Dr. Abner Mality

It is an absolute fucking DISGRACE that this album has taken almost two years to get a solid release on American shores. Why the delay? Venom are one of the bedrock bands of the entire extreme metal movement and while I doubt they will show up on any Billboard Heatseeker charts, they surely deserve a better American showing than Spinefarm has provided them.

Making it worse is that this is Venom's best album since "At War With Satan". Much of it is in the same style of "Satanic biker metal" that their recent albums have been, but with a much fresher and more energetic sound. It's one of those albums where eveything kind of clicks and provides an extremely enjoyable listen for fans of rough and nasty metal. Cronos and company have always had a knack for coming up with catchy tunes that stick in your head like glue and "Fallen Angels" shows this really well. You listen to this album one time and you remember a hook or vocal line from each song right away. Try that with something from Necrophagist or Carnifex. To give the Devil his due, Mr. Conrad Lant knows how to write fucking heavy songs that you don't forget.

You get 15 stomping cuts on the "Special Edition" of "Fallen Angels" and you can tell in each one the dudes are energized and pushing themselves. There are some nice twists and turns stuck in with the typical ass-kickers that make things interesting. Check out the pure old school rock and roll attack of "Lap of the Gods", where Mr. Rage surprises me with a killer solo the likes of which he hasn't done before. He continues to improve and stretch. Don't miss the oddball bonus cut "Blackened Blues" which can basically be described as filthy doom with bluesy guitar licks and muttering deep vocals from Cronos. There's a nice acoustic bit "Lest We Forget", and some more complex epics in the form of "Valley of The Kings" and the very moody title cut.

But we get a lot of bludgeoning thrash in the mix as well, including two real rippers in the form of "Nemesis" and "Pedal To the Metal". The album opens strangely with the lumbering, almost happy sounding "Hammerhead", where new drummer Dante immediately makes his presence known. And there's a lot more catchy evil metal like the anthemic "Hail Satanas" and defiant "Punk's Not Dead". Make sure you catch the "bonus" track "Annunaki Legacy", which is not only one of Venom's all-time most infectious cuts but which features maybe Cronos' best lyrics to date. Speaking of which, he mixes cheerful "bonehead" lyrics with more thoughtful and rebellious themes such as on "Sin".

A great Venom album, thoroughly recommended to the Legions and those not so blinded by nostalgia that they ignore everything the band has done since 1985.