From the very depths of Hell comes MPIRE OF EVIL. A new band by Jeff Mantas, Antton and Demolition Man, three former VENOM veterans. A mix of new songs and coverversions that influenced the bandmembers' musical direction. Experience guitarriffs that only Mantas, the pioneer of the entire 80s Black/Thrash Metal movement, can deliver.
Metal Archives [85%]:
For all of the Venom fans that have been ardent, loyal legions for all of these years (and for some of us, it’s been four decades) we’re usually stoked to hear any new fire from the bellies of its various members over the years. I’m not sure what this current incarnation of Venom is like these days, but vocalist Cronos being the only original member speaks volumes. That said three of the NWOBHM’s favorite hellspawns have forged out and into the M-Pire of Evil. The unit consists of original Venom guitarist Jeff Dunn (Mantas), one-time Venom drummer Antton Lant and the Prime Evil voice himself, Tony ‘Demolition Man’ Dolan fronting this axis of evil. What they’ve unleashed is the Creatures of the Black EP that consists of four covers of some of the band’s influences over the years and two new tracks that simply slay.
The cover of Judas Priest’s “Exciter” is interesting and provides a much different look at the classic track. It’s usually an odd choice to begin any recording with a cover song, but it sets the stage nicely for the powerful display that eventually comes from the two original tracks on this effort. I must also say that Dolan’s vocals are as gruff, volatile and intimidating as anything he’s ever done, and his performance here is nothing short of awesome. He’s got the Lemmy-thing going really nicely, all the while retaining his own style. These guys don’t seem to get older; they just grow more angry and loud as the years pass. Mantas of course brings the older Venom sound to the table in his style of play, which has obviously gotten much better since the Welcome to Hell and Black Metal years. With all of the infancy and low-fi resonance of those early albums, his guitars are part-and-parcel with the black metal sound of today. The horrible slithering he brings to the brilliant title track and covers of “Motorhead” and AC/DC’s “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be” are spot-on tributes in a deeper, darker vein, but it’s the two new tracks that tie Antton Lant’s drumming and the other terrible two together. While the covers are themselves fine renditions retold in the most respectful way, the true treasure here is the two new tracks that are a welcome addition to the long and varying history that is Venom. The stripped-down and brutal tone of “God of Thunder” is truly exciting because the same disheveled sadism is evident in the new track “Reptile”, which settles under the blanket of old thrash and a touch of technical death. Lant’s drumming in this song is not over-the-top, but the perfect complement to the music in its designated role as he pounds his way up and over the thick bass work. Production-wise the EP is crisp and lush with each instrument subtly battering your ears within the heavy plume of smoke surrounding it.
As the former glories are still heralded and championed by both fans and musicians alike, it’s great to see a release like Creatures of the Black come up from the ashes and take hold of the eternal flame. This is going to be a great addition to the metal fan’s collection, no matter what era you’re from simply because it sets the scene for what’s ahead.
If this is indicative of what’s to come I’m waiting impatiently for a new chapter, and so far M-Pire of Evil delivers the goods, all puns intended.