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Wednesday 25 October 2023

Reviews: Venom, White Tundra, War Curse, Dead Addiction (Reviews By Paul Hutchings, Rich Piva, Zak Skane & Kira Hughes)

Venom – Live From The Hammersmith Odeon Theatre 1985 (Dissonance Records) [Paul Hutchings]

Regardless of your view, seminal is a word that is synonymous with Newcastle’s Venom. Their early works combined punk and heavy metal in a way not seen before. They were ropey as hell live, but such was their impact that it didn’t really matter. Their first three albums, Welcome To Hell, Black Metal and At War With Satan contain all the music that influenced millions of bands, and still retain a fondness in those of us who were thrilled by their complete shake-up of the establishment at a time when metal was in many respects bloated and overdone.

It’s their first show at Hammersmith on June 1st, 1984, that will sit longest in the memories of most Venom fans. I know that my best friend, who is a couple of years older than me, went to that show, much to my disgust, as I couldn’t make it due to school. This recording isn’t taken from that show, but their third appearance at Hammersmith Odeon on 8th October 1985, as part of the World Possession tour. Now, given that the band in this guise played few shows at all, it’s still incredible to think that they managed to sellout three nights at the veritable old venue.

With their fourth album Possessed rather unimpressive, it’s not surprising that the set here is drawn predominantly from those first three records. Only Too Loud (For The Crowd) and Satanchist feature from Possessed. If you discount the godawful bass solo and equally challenging guitar solo, then there’s not much different to the shows that took place 15 months earlier and again in January 2015.

The production isn’t brilliant but, in many ways, you probably wouldn’t want it to be. The rawness of Buried Alive, Countess Bathory, and Black Metal was a huge part of the band’s appeal. The Seven Gates Of Hell still sends shivers down the spine, whilst the intro to Don’t Burn The Witch is a mighty riff. The fact that the bass solo is the second longest track on the album speaks volumes though. It’s Venom’s instant impact through short, blasting tracks that worked. There is one long track though, the eight minutes of the mighty Warhead.

Whilst Possessed wasn’t a great album, Too Loud (For The Crowd) stands out as the perfect opener. Blistering thrash-tinged metal which explodes the band onto the stage. They are certainly more cohesive than that first show, with some small signs of progression, mainly in the guitar work of Mantas rather than the continually loose bass playing of Cronos. But as I said, this isn’t about musicianship but about the overall shock waves that the band were continuing to case, even though by here their influence was starting to fade, Songs like In Nomine Satanus, Welcome To Hell and Warhead still hold the attention over 40 years later.

It's raw, frantic, and at times feral. There is a DVD to accompany this release, and that’s where the difference between the first and third show is likely to be seen. I’m not convinced that the crowd noise is genuine, but regardless, this release brings together the greatest tracks that Venom ever wrote. And for 60 minutes, I was 15 again. And that is a great feeling. 8/10

White Tundra - White Tundra (All Good Clean Records) [Rich Piva]

Norwegian heavy stoner rock is what the trio White Tundra brings to the party, and they are not messing around with their brand of metal on their self-titled new album. This seems to be their first full length after some EPs and singles and for the most part I am digging what I am hearing. But there are a ton of bands playing this style today. Does White Tundra stand above the current crop of heavy stoner bands? Let’s find out.

Overall, I feel White Tundra is a solid yet unspectacular heavy stoner metal effort. The opener, Erwachen…, is a chunky instrumental that is a bit too long but leads to the best track on White Tundra, …Of The Earth, with a nice riff, a gravelly, echoey vocal style, and overall cool guitar work that makes this song pretty killer. Find You is a more straight-ahead stoner jam leveraging those vocal styles and more crunchy riffs and an absolute killer solo. Addicted is more of the same, which is mostly a good thing, but you know at this point into the album what you are getting on all the eight tracks. I hear a heavier STP vibe peaking out on this one. 

Space Wars slows the album down a bit, but I don’t love how the vocals mesh when the pace slows down and the placement of this track in the middle of the record makes the whole album drag a bit with it’s six-minute plus runtime, but that guitar work shines through again. Third Floor is a nice three-minute ripper that shows the band when they are at their best; short bursts of heavy rock. A short instrumental interlude leads us to the closer, Byting, that at eight minutes is a bit long, but once again brings the nice riffs and guitar work but could have been shorter by at least two to three minutes, but I do love the epic scream at the end.

There is nothing that I dislike about White Tundra’s debut full length. It is a solid first record that shows lots of promise. The record is a bit uneven, however. I don’t love the vocals and it drags a bit at times, but there are some good songs and killer guitar work on White Tundra that is worth your time. I am looking forward to hearing what we get from the band next but for now this is a solid, yet imperfect debut from a band with a ton of possibilities. 7/10

War Curse – Confession (Metal Blade Records/Blacklight Media Records) [Zak Skane]

Like any classic thrash album we are greeted with clean guitars that composed of the Dream Theater-esque exotic virtuoso like chord choices before the melodic lead guitars are summoned to levitate us the same level that this band is going to unleash it’s thrashy goodness. Once the thrash driven assault commences we are greeted with pounding down beats, big four honouring down picked riffs, topped with Dave Mustaine styled snarling vocals. 

The precisely delivered Fortress Of Agony brings in some razor sharp riffage, eastern spiced melodic leads and punishing breakdowns. Confession comes with some cinematic strings before the gates are opened with some tribal sounding drums, followed by thunderous galloping Testament style riffs, cymbal polishing drum fills and catchy religious themed lyrics. Miracle Broker brings in some Dave Ellison styled clanky bass tones, followed by pick digging slow paced riffy grooves and eastern spiced solos. 

To close the first half of the album Power Of The Powerless brings in punchy down beats and some classic riffs. Highlights from the second album is the edge crushing The Convoy which brings Metallica styled guitar riffs and tribal beat styled grooves combined with Disturbed David Draiman styled vocal melodies. Return To Dust contains some punishing breakdowns and the closing track Illusion Of Choice ends the album with riffs that quickly change time signatures with switchblade accuracy, fist pumping choruses and stomping rhythms till it grinds to a classic 90’s fade out.

From the open track The Nothing (That Is Me) to the faded out closer Illusion Of Choice the band have provided us religious servings of fist pumping beats, thunderous down picked riffs and soaring vocals. This album will get thrashers and groovers coming together in harmony. From the tempo side of things, this album does definitely lean more to the speed of groove metal then what it’s been pigeon holed in but it still has the strength to break necks. For fans of Testament, Metallica and Megadeth. 7/10

Dead Addiction – Of Vice And Men (Self Released) [Kira Hughes]

Of Vice And Men is the latest album from Dead Addiction holding 11 solid tracks with a Hard Rock sound using classic music elements that’ll take you back a few decades.

Kicking it off with Welcome To The Sector immediately grabbing your attention with police sirens and police radio chatter then ending with a voice snippet leading into the upcoming track. Live At The Crime Scene continues the start of the album ever so smoothly with a fade-in from the album's intro, this track is where the vocals make an impressive appearance transporting you back to the 80’s. Frozen Dream starts with classic rock guitar riffs that immediately get your head banging with the smooth rock groove. The song is incredibly catchy with gorgeous harmonies and to make this song even better the energetic guitar solo blows you away. 

Blood Money has a drum-heavy stomping start continuing with a punchy guitar riff, it’s quite an impactful opening that is then held throughout the track, overall giving me Skid Row vibes! The pace picks up for the following track Chaos, making this song title quite fitting for a speedy tune! White Line shouts out to the album title Of Vice And Men within the chorus, which is awesome and lyrically captivating. The guitar solos throughout this track Sick City are rip, roaring and raunchy this reminds me of the band Poison. 

Every 80’s inspired album has to include a smooth ballad and this being the track Not Alone, an empowering and passionate song giving the album a soft touch. Dead Addiction is covering all the bases on this album! Warning Shot shouts Metallica with the heavy floor tom sections accompanied by harsh guitar riffs, low tones of bass and not forgetting the added depth in the vocals. The penultimate song Unsung Justice truly shows off his vocal range with the use of falsetto whilst the song carries a nice chugging riff. 

The finale track Tip Of The Blade rounds it out with a strong statement, as the track starts with smooth guitar picking, opening up for the vocals to come in with a powerful sense of purpose. As the chorus kicks in, the track starts to sore finalising the story. Of Vice And Men is a storytelling album that includes different samples from radio clips to police intercom chatter, that adds impact to the tracks and the narrative told throughout them. 8/10

1 comment:

  1. Outstanding comments.well done dead addiction.