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Venom: At War with Satan

Album Notes

Includes liner notes by Dave Ling.

All tracks have been digitally remastered.

Though neither of their first two albums had sold in very large quantities (even by heavy metal standards), by 1983 Venom had become simply impossible to ignore. To be sure, their exceedingly Satanic posturing wasn't nearly as shocking as it was cartoonish, and their impenetrable dirge of embryonic black metal was known to clear rooms faster than a fire alarm, but somehow, these qualities only helped fuel the metal community's interest in the band. At the time, even their most promising New Wave of British Heavy Metal contemporaries (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, etc.) were still struggling to break out of the strictest metal circles, but what they had, and what Venom craved above all else, was some measure of respect from the media, most of whom still viewed them as a trio of buffoons. So when it came time to record their third album, At War with Satan, the band took desperate measures to try and validate both their technical ability as musicians and their songwriting capabilities. Their folly gave birth to the album's bloated magnum opus of a title track -- a twenty-minute concept piece/sonic ordeal taking up the album's entire first half and dedicated to the lord of darkness himself (no, not Ozzy, the Devil). Needless to say, Venom were simply not equipped to pull off this feat (heck, can you name the bands besides maybe Rush who did?) and much of "At War with Satan" is decidedly crap; and what memorable moments do crop up, are almost always neutralized by the track's massive, confusing girth. But once they got past this ill-advised anomaly, the band got back to what they did best: furiously compact two and three minute scorchers. Although they'd already squandered most of their inspiration on albums one and two, Venom's dwindling creative reserves still yielded a few very strong cuts here, most notably the blistering "Rip Ride," the vicious "Genocide" and the all-inclusive "Women, Leather and Hell" (what else is there, really?). And when there's simply nothing left to say, Venom say it better than most, closing the album with the immortal relic "Aaaaaaarrghh" (possibly the funniest song ever recorded). 'Nuff said! [As with other Sanctuary/Neat re-issues, the 2002 version of At War with Satan is simply stellar, containing informative liner notes, rare photos and eight bonus tracks. Many of these singles ("Warhead," "Manitou") are actually better than songs that made the album, elevating At War with Satan's overall grade quite a bit from its original configuration.] ~ Eduardo Rivadavia


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