Welsh noisy bastards Venom Prison have had their name popping up with alarming regularity in my life for the past year, so it seemed only sensible to get better acquainted with their music via their debut full length on Prosthetic (which should at least give you a hint as to how noisy they are…)
After a lovely slow sample intro with a guitar straight out of the Corrupted school of mired in sludge, ‘Abysmal Agony’ erupts in your face. It’s a full on mix; part grind, hardcore and death metal. Vocals with enough acid to eat through steel as the track blazes by, hardcore breakdowns and death metal riffing and runs. There’s a real sense of conviction here, something strengthened as we shoot straight into ‘Celestial Patricide’. It’s a good production too; plenty of crunch and a good clarity between the bottom end riffing and the top end shredding which simply adds to the air of class Venom Prison exude. Hell, they can even get a kind of groove on now and then like with the magnificent ‘Perpetrator Emasculation’ whose subject matter and suggestion grace the cover art (which is a fine piece of new art in an old master or Goya-esque style.)
So there we have it. Add a sense of intelligence in the socio-political-philosophical lyrical edge and delivery and potentially you have a nigh on perfect deathgrind package. If you’re waiting for me to drop a huge great ‘but’ in here you’ll be waiting a good while. For a debut in this area Animus is supremely impressive. Besides the feral attack there is real variation in pace and tone – just put the slower, death metal glowering of ‘Immanetiza Eschaton’ next to follow on track ‘The Exquisite Taste Of Selfishness’ with its chunky, chopped rhythm going from stop to rampage in a breath to see what I mean. Then there’s those death metal runs and ‘melodies’ that paint colour and shade onto the grind and even provide that odd glimpse of groove and hook. Plus the album is just about the perfect length to beat you senseless without putting you into a coma. Oh, and it grows on you, too.
Nope the only reservation I have is I have the feeling that seeing them live might be an even better introduction to the band. Not that I’m complaining, you understand; this is the kind of debut that makes reviewing so good. But if you can’t afford this just yet and you’re going to Damnation Festival make sure you mark your dance card for Venom Prison. Along with Employed To Serve and Akercocke they just made themselves essential for me.
Ferocious, sharp, violent and intelligent. Great debut.