Storm The Gates
Review by Felix on April 29, 2019.
V.E.N.O. f**king M.!
Cronos is back once again. I am skeptical after the last EP and especially in view of the fact that all its three examples of mediocrity have found a place on Storm the Gates. Thus, a 95 + X % rating would be ridiculous, even for someone like me who once was a Venom fanboy and now has become a Venom fan-grandfather. Cronos will never again release a new At War with Satan, but a more than solid full-length should be possible. Maybe the droning, more or less rumbling sound of the album does not meet the greatest expectations, yet it embodies the typical flair of the noisy British legend pretty well. Needless to say, that Venom do not concentrate on technical tricks and so the production must be considered as suitable for this group - even though it would be a shame for any other formation due to its lack of sharpness and precision. But let the truth be told without any kind of cynicism. Storm the Gates (by the way, nice artwork) has an acceptable production in objective terms, no more, no less.
13 songs seem to be an omen for creativity, but honestly speaking, in the case of Venom, this would be a daring thesis. The pounding, mid-paced compositions of Storm the Gates sound antiquated. Cronos seems to have fallen out of time and the disappointing EP does not remain an isolated case. The album lacks energy and spontaneity. I miss outstanding pieces which would be able to challenge the highlights of the band's back catalogue. Generally speaking, the here presented tunes enlarge the catalogue of the trio, but they do not enrich it. It is truly bitter, but the majority of the songs raise the question of Venom's right of existence in 2018. I hate to say it, but 36 years after the groundbreaking Black Metal and 34 years after the visionary At War with Satan, this new work does not deserve a comparable attribute, even though I am not speaking about a complete flop. Nevertheless, it is remarkable that the entire work has almost nothing in common with black metal. Even the comparatively diabolic atmosphere of its predecessor, remember "Smoke", "Evil Law" or the title track of "From the Very Depths" is missing.
Some good riffs have been created and they are responsible for the fact that the album does not drown in the big sea of meaninglessness. If one accepts that Venom are seemingly no longer able to convey a diabolic aura, one can enjoy some tracks and have fun. "Over My Dead Body" marks the most vigorous song, it is almost an explosive eruption in the context of this album. (But its lyrics prove evidence that the band has lost the orientation. Cronos moans about omnipresent propaganda and I really don't see a link to the "Satanic" topics that made this band once great. I am sure that Satan tears will extinguish the fires of hell as soon as he listens to this work.) "Notorious", "I, Dark Lord" or the dense and robust "Immortal" score with strong choruses and fine guitar work. The voice of unbreakable gnome at the microphone also can be mentioned as a plus point, because he still has a certain charisma which fits the musical approach. Nevertheless, there is not an ounce of originality or creative insanity. It is rather an album for obedient civil servants. Teachers, employees at the cadastral office and the part-time workers of the urban library will enjoy the fact that Storm the Gates somehow reflects their personalities. No unnecessary stress, please.
Venom's once gargantuan reputation is the main reason why the band is still alive, even though it is laudable that they still try to forge new strong albums. From the Very Depths was an excellent result, at least from my point of view. But here we have to face a work that holds no components in order to blow the listener away. Too many run-of-the-mill pieces mirror exactly the feature that all artists, but especially Venom, always intended to avoid since the beginning of time. They are ordinary. The closing title track is the final disappointment. I always thought a title track should be something special, but here we have just another piece of more or less structured noise. The once polarizing pioneers deliver songs which are too good to hate them and too bad to love them. I will walk the way of Venom with them until the bitter end, come hell or high water. But it seems as if the end is coming nearer and nearer.
Rating: 6.8 out of 10256