Texans aren’t generally known for doing things on a small scale so when it comes to generosity with classic sounding riffs we should be able to expect something big from the Lone Star state. Venomous Maximus bring in said generosity with third long player, “No Warning”. With promises of upping the ante on 2015’s “Firewalker” there’s plenty to look forward to on this latest release.

The 70’s sci-fi film score feel of “I” is an electronic introduction to the journey that is about to unfold and quickly whisks you to another dimension before the chuggy, retro primitivism of “Spellbound”. There’s a kind of modern occult rock accessibility found in bands like Ghost here but this is done with a far more leaden, classic heavy metal sound. Power chords abound on the early tracks with the likes of “Pray For Me” bringing in a chest pounding, Grand Magus vibe that’s guaranteed to get you on your feet quickly. “Return Of The Witch” offers a more sinister, grinding aura and there is a grandiosity about the vocals that’s steeped in the halcyon days of metal. The clean, wide riffs provide the album’s strength based on the genre’s early sounds behind lyrics steeped in occult imagery. Gregg Higgins’ vocals really are a key element in the band’s identity with his rich, smooth delivery that’s part story teller, part King Diamond sermonising that pleads and condemns in equal measure. They’ve taken a Black Sabbath influence in the album structure by punctuating the meaty tracks with medieval, folk tinged acoustic instrumentals. These are pretty, melancholy turns that compliment mighty tracks like “No Warning” which is an unashamed old school head banger. The hooks are irresistible on closing track “Sea Of Sleep”. Imagine Dio fronted Sabbath mixed with the crunch of “Sad Wings Of Destiny” era Judas Priest and you get an idea of the scope Venomous Maximus are capable of. The effects drenched bass introduces dark tones that build until they explode into the stratosphere in a celebration of sublime heavy metal. The four minutes of silence before the hidden closing instrumental is a little disappointing only because the track’s first half was so strong.

All too often these days, bands keep the flame held high for the early masters of the genre but fall short in providing a taste of their own interpretation and inspiration. Venomous Maximus do not suffer from this. “No Warning” has a crackling, sparking excitement about it that will no doubt gather attention and is well worth a listen.

(8/10 Johnny Zed)