Mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in March 2017.
Starting in 1979, the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was a singular movement sweeping through England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and even remote place like the Channel Islands (with Pete Haworth’s Legend being the main protagonists on Jersey) and Gibraltar (do yourself a favour and check out Oracle). Originally formed in the late 1970s, Venom from Newcastle upon Tyne were also classified as NWOBHM. A fact Cronos (bass, vocals), Abaddon (drums) and Mantas (guitar) always strongly denied. Actually, Venom did not like to be classified whatsoever, whether people called them NWOBHM, Speed Metal, Thrash Metal or anything else. That’s why they invented a whole new subgenre with their second album »Black Metal« in 1982.
Main man Cronos, however, got into music way before the NWOBHM, even way before punk, as he describes in an exclusive interview: “I have always liked music and I have always been interested in bands, where I grew up in Kensington, in the borough of Chelsea in London. Guys from the Stones and from The Who used to live in our neighbourhood back then. We had a little black and white TV in the living room and we saw those bands on the telly. And my mum used to say: ‘Wasn’t that the guy we saw yesterday getting cigarettes from the shop?’ Mick Jagger and Roger Daltrey, people like that. So I have always seen music. I have always been around music. You know, I lived next to those guys. The first show I went to I sneaked in for free because I was very, very young. I moved up to the Newcastle area when I was about ten years old. London was so huge and the North East was tiny. A complete culture shock for me. I felt really strange. People just seemed to be not very much into music up north. It was all about work, digging coal and shit. When punk arrived up north, it was more accepted because it was pure working class music. I was eleven or twelve when punk happened. The Pistols, The Damned, The Clash, and the fucking Exploited, that was great, punk happened everywhere all at the same time. Everybody was walking around with safety pins and those crazy hairstyles. It was an explosion. I got the Pistols album on the day it was released. It was still rock music, people tend to forget, they still played chords, it was punk rock, not just noise. The Clash were awesome, the Damned were amazing. For fuck’s sake. The ones going more commercial, like The Jam, they were still pretty cool for the time. They weren’t considered as punk, but they were a punk band. More clean, but still cool though. The Stranglers were good until they did this ‘Golden Brown’ shit. Everybody went straight off them, it was fuckin’ insane.”
Cronos started his career in music working as a studio engineer for local North East bands: “Nothing ever happened with all those local bands, they just came and went. The first ever official recording as an engineer I did was for a band called The Blood. I produced one of their albums.”
As mentioned earlier, Cronos never was a big fan of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal in the first place. And there was a reason for that: “Those guys were only copying other bands. When I used to work in the studio, bands would come in and say: ‘I wanna sound like Tony Iommi.’ Or: ‘I wanna sing like Rob Halford.’ I always wondered: ‘When did this start?’ Wanting to sound like somebody else. Instead of just being yourself. You know, I grew up with Jethro Tull, I grew up with T. Rex but I never wanted to sound like them. Even folk bands today don’t sound like Jethro Tull. There is only one Jethro Tull. You know, Ian Anderson is a one-off. There was definitely some punk influence in early Venom, you could say that, but not that much of the NWOBHM shit.”
So single-handedly Venom invented Speed Metal, Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Black Metal – call it whatever you want. Cronos explains: “When Venom wrote songs, it was about changing the chords and changing the speed. The rule book for music had been thrown out of the window. You should start from scratch with music, you should not copy somebody else. Even today, if you dissect some band’s music, you could always say: ‘Well, there is a Black Sabbath riff or there is a Deep Purple riff or there is a fuckin’ Led Zeppelin riff’. You know, because there is only fuckin’ twelve notes. There is only so far you can go. But it’s all about how it comes across. Venom were just determined to create a new kind of noise, a new kind of sound. We deliberately wouldn’t want to sound like anybody else. I would have rather made only one album and people say: ‘That’s shit.’ And then I’d gonna go and get a regular day job. I would rather have done this one totally unique album and then disappear forever than sounding like some other band.”
Fortunately, Venom did record more than one album. But this was not down to the support they got from their home country: “People in England did not care about Venom at all. It was the interest from Europe that kept us alive. Our first continental gig was in Poperinge in Belgium. We got a call from a promoter and he said he could put on a Venom gig in a big sports hall. And we thought that was cool. When we arrived, there were kids from Holland, there were kids from Germany and we thought ‘fuckin’ hell, that’s great’, you know. They were coming all the way just to see us. And this never changed. People always travel to see Venom. And that’s really cool.”
The first Venom live gigs were always kind of a mystique. Before putting on the Poperinge show, Venom had already played back home in England: “Yeah, we used to rehearse in a church hall. We also did one live gig there, one single live gig. That was in Newcastle, where all the motorbike shops are. All the motorbike freaks came and it was great. And then we played a Methodist Church five miles away from the city, in a place called Wallsend. We blew that place away as well. I got a photo from that gig. The one and only photo ever from those early gigs. A couple of hundred people had turned up, nothing huge but surely good enough. I haven’t got a clue which songs we played though. It was a difficult time for us because people didn’t get Venom. They didn’t understand us. We were just happy to do what we did.”
It took a long time for Venom from those early gigs in church halls up in the North East of England to reach the biggest stages of the country. But in the end they did. When Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon finally arrived at the Hammersmith Odeon in London on their “Seven Dates Of Hell Tour” on June 1st 1984, even England had caught up with Venom. Just shortly over a year later Venom once again entered the stage of the legendary Hammersmith Odeon Theatre. What you hold in your hands is the entire performance of their October 8th 1985 appearance: »Live From The Hammersmith Odeon Theatre«. Mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at the Temple Of Disharmony in March 2017.
So join the legions and enter the very depth of hell!