This is by no means Venom's complete history.Just some facts.Few is known about Venom unfortunately.
Wind swept Newcastle,England 1979 was a bleak landscape and there dwelled one Conrad Lant,known as Cronos,singing and handling bass duties;one Jeff Dunn,known as Mantas,playing guitar,and one Tony Bray ,known as Abaddon on drums.
They were unsettled with the metal scene.The hardest bands around were Motorhead and Judaspriest but something more was needed.Who would take metal to its next (il)logical stage of development?They always say if noone is providing what you want get on with it yourself.This then,is precisely what the unholy alliance of Lant/Dunn/Bray proposed to do.
Actually Venom started as a 5 member band called Oberon .Abaddon and Mantas met at a JudasPriest gig and decided to make a band.The whole idea was Mantas':he worked as a roadie in concerts and also he was into motorcycles where he had the nickname Venom .Cronos went to Venom as a guitarist. However when Mantas wrote Live Like An Angel,Die Like A Devil he asked Cronos to sing it.Everyone liked it then.At the same time Abaddon had arranged to play to a club but there was noone to play bass since the bass player had quit to wed.So Cronos thought he should try playing the bass since he saw that playing the basic notes wasn't that hard.Everyone liked it and the band remained that way.
Venom Metal Band
Venom's debut was terrifying:First of all the cover of the album.Up until then the only band that mentioned Satan was Black Sabbath.Venom thought that Sabbath were too "light" though.So they released this shocking,for the time, cover...To the music now things got even worse...Venom were certainly the heaviest band on the planet.Many people thought it was just noise and not music.The production was not good in their first album but it is a minor detail in Venom's music.What counted most was the atmosphere.
Welcome To Hell was a tremendous success,it was one of the Top 10 albums of 1981.When others were releasing "mild" songs ,Venom released Welcome To Hell and spread havoc.Noone could believe his ears.Everything seemed just so heavy,evil,trully black.
And that's how they came up next year with one of the best metal albums ever: Black Metal. I can't say anything about this album,and the first one of course.They are metal masterpieces ,every metal fan must have them.Super classic songs,performed millions of times by newer bands,they set a totally new pace in metal music.The music itself was exactly what the title said:black metal.Blackness,darkness,evilness,hatred...Their music had it all.Everything contributed to this from Abaddon's fast and passionate drums(aka 125 Intercity),Mantas' riffs and Cronos' bass and angry vocals.
At that time Venom were at the top of the world along with another important NWOBHM band: Iron Maiden .In 1984 they released At War With Satan .This album had something unique:a 21 minute song!The first side of the album was taken over by "At War With Satan". No other metal tracks were so long in duration at that time.Even today it remains the biggest thrash metal song.
Venom started touring... They are well known about their gigs.As Mantas said in a concert once:"If you wanna hear Venom,go home and listen to your fuckin'LP's cos tonight you are gonna get one and a half hours of pure fuckin'mayhem..."
And this reflects the truth...When Venom hit the stage they literally exploded in your face with dozens of bombs going off before they had even played the first note.To get an idea of how a Venom concert is here is what a Security Guard from The Paramount Theatre said:"I thought i'd seen it all in 'Nam.But this band scare me more than anything i've experienced before.I'll not go on that stage for anything.The whole audience can invade but i'm staying put."
1986 came with many good bands with good albums such as Slayer with Reign In Blood and Metallica with Master Of Puppets.Venom released Possessed in 1986.However it was difficult for the band to face the competition of the previous two bands. These two bands were the best in the metal scene at that time.Possessed however wasn't as succesful as the previous albums,and that's a shame to my opinion as all of its songs are awesome.Venom realised what had gone wrong with Possessed and decided to rectify all.So they recorded a new album called Deadline that featured 10 Possessed type songs,but it was never released.At that time Mantas left and decided to follow a solo carrier and at then everyone thought that this would be the end of Venom.
Here begins the complexed part:Abaddon and Cronos didn't want to ruin Venom,so they found an American and a local guitarist, Mike Hickey and Jimmy Clare,and did Calm Before The Storm in 1987.It was a good album and Mantas wrote some of the songs.It sounded strange however:the songs didn't sound very "Venom".Of course you knew it whose it was when you listened to it,but it bore little resemblance to the older albums.But the worst part is that after that Cronos left with the two guitarists leaving Abaddon on his own.Cronos followed a "solo" carrier releasing albums under the name "Cronos".Abaddon however made clear that he wanted to keep the name Venom.
So in 1989,Mantas returned and along with Al Barnes on guitar and Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan from Atomkraft on vocals and bass guitar.At that time the band was also reffered to (unofficially of course) as Venom MKII .They recorded Prime Evil in 1989,a very good album,but to my opinion Dolan wasn't as good as Cronos,his typical wild angry(classic Venom) voice was gone.In fact Cronos said that he listened to "Harder Than Ever" once and he thought that Dolan was saying in the riff "I ain't Cronos,I ain't Cronos".And i think this is the truth.Maybe Dolan was a good singer but he wasn't the appropriate for Venom.After the release of Prime Evil they started doing some small warm up gigs in small clubs under the name Sons Of Satan (the first track on Welcome To Hell). The band recorded two other albums Temples Of Ice and Waste Lands plus an EP Tear Your Soul Apart
The band didn't release any other albums until in 1996 Cronos came back to Venom,something that made their fans and the Legions extremely happy.
Venom metal Band
What happened actually was that everyone felt it was time for a reunion,and in contrary to what many people think,Dolan was probably the biggest Venom fan ever.Something that proves this is the fact that he left the group cause he thought that this way the band would return to its old glorious days.Dolan is happy that Venom are reunited in the original format and they have such a huge success.This proves that he is the biggest Venom fan,and that he trully cares about the band.
The band performed some concerts like Dynamo'96 and then started touring in sevral countries including Greece,and next year they released their new album Cast In Stone. 1999 dawns a very promising and exciting year for the band as they will release their new album on Easter,and also this year is Venom's 20th anniversary.