THE ONLY OFFICIAL WEBSITE OF VENOM - THE ORIGINAL INVENTORS AND FOUNDERS OF BLACK METAL

THE COMPLETE  HISTORY  OF  VENOM

This Venom Biography is made up from various press reviews from many journalists from
around the world, plus sections of album sleeve notes etc, it also includes sections of interviews from former and
current members of the band, and contains opinions and observations that intend to describe not only the facts, but also the
moods and effects of this incredible band, which makes for an incredible read about the history of the mighty Venom.

Venom, the band credited as the original inventor and founder of Black Metal, the creator of Thrash, Speed, Death and Power Metal, the deadliest force ever to hit the music scene, the original sinner playing the Devil's music at its highest intensity, the ultimate Rock n' Roll metal punk band in the universe, Venom, hell fucking yeah!!!!!!!.

It all started way back in the 70's in the north of England, a young Heavy Metal / Punk Rocker called Conrad Lant [aka: Cronos] started working in a recording studio [Impulse Studios] as the assistant engineer after leaving school, he had been interested in music from an early age and had played in a few different bands throughout his school days, with the idea of creating a band that was heavier and more over the top than anything anyone had ever seen or heard before, more Satanic than Black Sabbath, louder than
Motörhead, with a pyrotechnic show to rival Kiss, and with even more leather and studs than Judas Priest, the ultimate ingredients for the Ultimate Metal Band.

Venom
detonated the whole black metal explosion with one stroke by releasing an album with that title in 1982. The story of Venom's leader and singer / bassist: 'Cronos', is one of the most amazing in the history of music, seemingly rising from impossible conditions, he moulded and steered the band to become one of the main cornerstones of the modern metal sound. Think about it, how many bands have actually inspired and named a whole area of music, almost single-handedly?

How many bands are there that can truly say they have no rivals?  No competition? There has never been or ever will be such a unique band as Venom.  Cronos totally rewrote the rule book and laid waste to the disbelievers who said it could never be done, but Venom take no prisoners, and Cronos rode his mighty ship of Black Metal sailing through the thunderstorms and turbulent high seas of the music industry, with the Legions of followers at the oars, an unstoppable force for decades to come.

Venom aren’t a band prepared to compromise. Cronos holds firm the principles of never surrender, even if at times this might have cost them significant rewards. For instance, they always boasted that their stage show was so massive they’d never play a UK date until they could be satisfied on being booked into a venue that could house every last pyro and effect. That’s why they made their debut at the legendary Hammersmith Odeon in London on June 1, 1984. Go on, name one other UK band whose first ever live performance was at such a prestigious venue. Easy, isn’t it? No, There is no other.

I wanted to shove two fingers up at the music industry" recalls Cronos. "I was told by every other musician I spoke to... there was a certain way of doing things in this industry. You had to pay your dues, right? You had to get in a van and do all the shit hole clubs. Then, and only then, could you consider moving up to bigger venues. That was the way it worked – and there was no other way. Oh yeah? I said ‘Bollocks!!!, then booked the Hammersmith Odeon in London and sold it out. Our first proper British gig – well, apart from a couple in local church halls in the very early days, but I consider them warm up shows for what was to come. Now what did the know-it-alls have to say? Zilch!"

I've always broke the rules, taking risks, that's the way I roll. I started out as a tape operator / assistant engineer in a small recording Studio in Newcastle, [Impulse Studios] which was owned by some local folk musicians [Lindisfarne]. I had to work with many different types of bands and solo artists who came to lay down their songs, and you'd get the bands that said they wanted to sound like Judas Priest or Saxon, or even bloody Shirley Bassey or Frank Sinatra. They wanted this song to be like one band, and another to be like this other happening act of the day. And there was me, in the corner, saying, ‘Hey I’ve got a band too!’, and being ignored. All these local musicians were convinced they were the ones most likely to succeed. But there was no originality there. It’s typical of the inner city mentality. It’s club land, where everyone knows the words to ‘We Are The World’. Where’s the originality? You think back to all those NWOHM bands at the time: They all sounded like someone else, with boring riffs and predictable lyrics. We didn’t want to be part of that, even if it meant people didn't like what we were doing at first, coz it was different".

“From the
very start when I decided to become a musician instead of an actor, I wanted to be different, larger than life, to stand apart and bring something new to the music scene. 
I had been in a couple of bands while I was at school, one band was named: 'Album Graecum' which I had read in the school library meant Petrified Dog Shit, we were a cross punk and rock music outfit. I played Guitar and tried writing some songs with the singer, but it was difficult to get the rest of the band interested in new material, so in rehearsals we ended up playing songs by the Pistols, the Clash, T/Rex, Bowie, UFO and of course, Judas Priest, AC/DC and Motorhead, but all along I kept writing my own ideas". 

But the young Cronos was always on the look out for other musicians to work with, and after a while he formed another group called 'Dwarfstar', a lot more rock / metal than punk and with the first signs of Satanic influences, writing song titles such as 'Sons of Satan', 'Bloodlust' and 'Welcome To Hell'".  I designed the bands logos and started incorporating pentagrams and dark satanic imagery into my art".


"Working at the studio was long hours and a lot of the days were booked by Folk Artistes and Session musicians, recording cover songs for the local clubs, although I was focused on learning how the studio equipment worked through the day, and writing song ideas at night.  I started taking over recording duties quite quick really, learning how to operate the studio equipment came to me quite naturally, so when the in house engineer was off sick one day, as they didn't want to cancel the booked session, I said 'hey I'll do it'. The session went great and they released their recording as an EP on vinyl. The studio building became a bit of a hang out place for the local ageing club singers, and that's when I made friends with was a singer in a band called 'Geordie' called 'Brian Johnson', who is now the singer with the band AC/DC".

"I'd been playing live shows for a number of years at this point, starting out at a community centre where we played a few times a week.  We had a mate with two boxes with 6 coloured bulbs and a strobe light.  We used a recording of a witch describing an orgy as our intro tape, which I got from a Bowie bootleg".

So who are Venom? Where do they come from? And how did they become so influential without achieving the enormous commerciality that was surely their birthright. Ah, now here lies a soap opera. So, come with me, back to 1979, when the world was very different. When mobile phones and the Internet were figments of fevered comic book superheroes. And when the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal was starting to make its presence felt.

"About 6 months or more after I started working at Impulse Studios in Wallsend", recalls Cronos; "I met a girl in a burger bar and she invited me round her house one evening, she was there with another girl and her boyfriend, he told me he was a guitarist, [Jeff Dunn] and I got talking to him about music etc and that I was looking for other musicians for a new band idea, he said he was working with some other musicians but wasn't happy with all of them, so he invited me to check out what he was doing at a rehearsal.  When I first saw his band they called themselves Guillotine and were a sort of Judas Priest tribute / cover band. The guitarist even had long blond hair and looked the spitting image of KK Downing. He may deny it now, but he knows it’s true. They sounded like shit and were all over the place. Little did they know but as I was working as A&R for Neat Records I had already heard most of the new bands in the area, so believe me when I say these guys sucked big time, with the drums being the worst, totally out of time and just plain sloppy.  I thought if I had any chance of working with these people then the fist thing I need to do is knock the cover band attitude out of them.  The thing was, the drummer and singer worked in a steel factory and the guitarist was a petrol pump attendant, so they knew nothing about recording studios or concert halls etc, or anything to do with recording or playing live etc etc, but even though they were terrible musicians, there was something about them that I liked, plus it seemed to me like I had a plain slate with these gus, so I could influence the direction they were headed.  They didn't take themselves too seriously and seemed to be having fun and enjoyed playing, so I thought what the hell, what better place to start.

“I decided to go to more rehearsals taking my guitar, and started getting up and playing with them, this is how the band formed into a five-piece, I was playing rhythm guitar.  The guy they had previously had short curly hair and just didn't look the part, so I took over on rhythm guitar with Jeff on lead.

"The drummer and I were talking about the band name one day and both agreed it was shit, we had a roady at the time who also drove the van, and he suggested the band name 'Venom', I know the guitarist wasn't too keen on the name at first, but with pressure from the other members he succumbed to influence and that was it, we were now called VENOM".
(there are variations on this part of the story, but this is the way the band themselves recall it).

“We decided on using stage names very early on. I thought it would be lame to be singing about Satan and demons and all the dark forces, and to have basic normal names. I felt it wasn't right, we needed names to fit the personalities, something more formidable and demonic. That was always my problem with Ozzy. He’d sing about dark figures then spoilt it all by going, Oh God, help me!’ Duh, Wrong! That was stopping one step short of where I wanted to take this band. We were prepared to go beyond the Hammer Horror of Black Sabbath”.

For the record,
the name Cronos comes from Greek mythology and was one of the first gods, the original Titans, the generation that preceded Zeus and the Olympian gods. He was the son of Uranus and Gaia. "I wanted to come up with a stage name that had some meaning or connection to myself, and as my birth sign is Capricorn, and my planet is Saturn, then the god of Saturn is Cronos.  For the other band members, they didn't really put much thought into it, they just took their names from the Satanic bible, from the infernal names. it seems they just took the first names they thought sounded cool without giving it much thought".

“I switched from rhythm guitar when our bassist left one week before one of our gigs, we couldn’t play a gig without a bass player and we didn’t have time to teach a new one the songs, so I agreed to switch,” says Cronos with that trademark hyper-speed verbal delivery that matches the velocity of the music.

“We had a singer at the time, Clive Archer, he had the idea of calling himself Jesus Christ as his stage name [?] which wasn't really in tune with the rest of our names, but hey it was his choice.  One cool thing he did though was he used to put tons of wet lime powder on his face and let it dry, then he'd move his face and let it crack, it was the birth of corpse paint, although a lot more gruesome. 
Archer didn’t exactly endear himself to the rest of the band when he chose an inappropriate stage name and hated the Satanic element. That in itself was enough to get him fired, but not until we got a chance to go in the studio one more time.

"Getting into the studio to record was quite a challenge for me, I used to pester the managing director about bringing my band 'DwarfStar' into the studio when I first got the job, although without any joy, then when I formed Venom I tried again, although without any recordings for the MD to hear, he wasn't going to entertain my ideas at all.  So one day at our Church Hall rehearsals I set up an old crappy cassette player and recorded our rehearsal, it was terrible, the hall was way to  big and the recording really booming, a right racket, but anyway I played it to everyone at the studio and they hated it,
and not surprising as the big church hall reverb didn’t do justice to our sound, and we sounded terrible, [yeah :)] but soon after I was able to convince the engineer (Mickey Sweeney) to work for free if I'd stay back every night in the studio and help him with other sessions, he agreed, so I now just had to try to convince the studio boss (Dave Wood) to give me a few hours for free also, again agreeing to do all sorts of extra work around the studio, this is when we recorded the 3 track demo, at last we had a good-ish quality recording our ourselves to play to the world, and I made as many copies as I could to mail out to all sort of labels and magazines, and one mag in particular was 'Sounds Magazine', and we were astonished that Geoff Barton decided to put all 3 tracks in his play list, and for a few weeks running, he claimed he loved them so much he didn't want 3 different artists like the other journalists put in their play lists, he just put all 3 of our song from the demo".

Neat Records decided at this time that as there were so many [skint] bands around that all needed to record, that he would put an affordable deal together called the '
£50 Demos’, this was 4 hours in the studio to record as many live songs as possible straight to 2 track master, no fancy 16 or 24 track recording with a mix later, oh no, just set up the equipment, get a basic sound on everything, then go for it, about as live as you can get in a studio.  But £50 was still way to much for us in those days, I remember I only got about £20 a week wages.  So again I promised to work impossibly long hours in the studio to pay for the session, and eventually after much grovelling, I was finally given the go ahead to bring the band in to the studio to record the ‘£50 Demos’

   So on the 10th October 1980 we entered the studio, we recorded 6 tracks in the 4 hours we were given.
Sons Of Satan, In League With Satan, Angel Dust, Live Like An Angel, Schizo and the band song Venom.  When it was time to record Live Like An Angel
Jeff asked me if I'd have a go singing it, I said "Hell Yeah", although at the end of the session we had a band meeting and the guitarist and drummer said that they preferred my vocal style to Clive’s.  I must say he was very big about the whole situation even though he had in reality just been sacked, he said we could keep his PA for me to sing through, and his parting words were something like; ‘I fucking love this band, I really hope you guys make it”.

So with these demos and the fact that the old singer was out meant Neat Records finally agreed to take a chance and let Venom record a single.  “Geoff Barton (then of ‘Sounds’ magazine, a strong supporter of Venom in their early years) ended a review of the (self-titled) White Spirit album by saying; “in closing can I just politely suggest that Neat Records should release a single by the virulent Venom, and soon”. That seemed to help our cause a little bit, as Neat were surprised that a classic rock fan like Geoff would like the band. [Neat thought we had bribed him?] Anyway, this was when the band first shocked an unsuspecting public with the single ‘In League With Satan’, [c/w: Live Like An Angel ~ Die Like A Devil] a seven inch EP that was so savage it made Iron Maiden sound like grannies with dyspepsia.

“I had to really work hard in the studio to get us enough time to cut that single. We were asked by Neat to work with a guy called Steve Thompson as pop producer – and we hated him with a vengeance. He didn’t get what we were about at all, he was just some old 'know-it-all' fat guy who hung out in the building doing sessions for crap club singers [never been's and never will be's] and the like, he knew nothing about rock or metal or anything really, we were gonna tie him up and lock him a flight case, but we knew he had no sense of humor and wouldn't find it funny and he'd cry like a baby. The original mix of the single was awful; it sounded nothing like us. So I did something that nearly got me fired from the studio as well as blowing the chance of getting the single released. When nobody was book to record one day, I put the 16 track master tape back on the machine and completely re-mixed it, just went for it without permission. I then swapped the newly mixed tape that I'd done with the other tape the other guy had mixed. So it was my mix that got pressed up into the singles, and it was only when the label was playing the first batch of discs that arrived at the office that the producer said, ‘Hang on, that’s not my mix’. I just came clean straight away and admitted, ‘No, it’s not, it’s mine!  Honestly, I nearly lost my job over that… the label people were livid. But I stand by what I did. The single sounded raw, hard and very much the way it should have been. I’ve still got the original tape at home – it’s nothing like us, I should probably just destroy it so it never gets out.”

That same year, 1981, the band’s debut album, Welcome To Hell was unleashed - the audio equivalent of rubbing a tab of salt into a gaping wound.  Actually, what a lot of people don’t realise is that the album was really no more than a collection of demos! It wasn’t a true album, which is why there’s such a huge difference in sound quality between 'Welcome To Hell' and the next album, 'Black Metal'.”

In a strange way, the very demo quality of the record probably did much to boost Venom’s growing popularity as the uncrowned kings of the rapidly expanding metal underground.

“Neat Records were very surprised at how well the single was selling and asked me if we had any more songs, “loads” I said, so Neat asked if we would record everything we had so they could hear all our tracks. We went back into the studio and recorded what we thought were a bunch of demos. Then, Neat Records said, ‘You know, we could stick a cover on these and put them out as an album’. We thought, ‘Great idea. We’ll go back in and re-record the songs properly with more care and attention etc, and then turn the songs into a proper record’. Er, that wasn’t the way Neat saw it at all. They literally meant that they wanted to release our demos, warts n' all, as the first album!”

Despite a lack of production values, the album did give Venom a strong foothold for the band on the metal scene. The fearsome trio were no longer just another band for the masses – they had substance and real potential. Their roar was ferocious, unnerving and utterly vitriolic.

“Funnily enough, because of the first album’s very basic style, we got a reputation for not being able to play our instruments at all. Of course, we used to play up to that like crazy. We’d do 50 interviews in a day, and at first we’d be sayings things like, ‘Nah, we can’t play a note. We’re shite, really’. Then we’d take completely the opposite approach and tell the journalists, ‘Of course we can play. We’re all classically trained virtuosos. I can play Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony easily. I’m a genius’. It was all a laugh. Something to break the monotony of having to answer the same questions all day".

“But there were loads of people who thought that Venom were incapable of actually playing a decent note. Now look, I would be the first to admit that we had a drummer who wasn’t exactly a good time-keeper, but then so do Metallica. Come on, everyone knows that about Lars Ulrich. But does it matter? Did it hold them back? No. You work with what you’ve got, and that’s the way it is.”

The stories of their shows they played [destroyed] in old church halls as the band were forming were becoming well known, then a chance opportunity to make a show in Belgium arose and they set off to play a sports hall in a town called Popperinge.  "We wanted to get away from the UK" said Cronos, "It was important for us to see how we were accepted away from the constraints of the people who judged us without even seeing or hearing us, we knew we'd have to get out into the world to see if we really had a chance at this or not".

The show was a great success, and so the band set their sights on going even further, but the turn of events that eventually saw Venom heading off to the USA couldn't have been dreamt up....

A small time importer from New York called Johnny Z ordered a few boxes of Venom's first album from Neat Records to sell on his record stall in a shopping mal. Venom decided to sign some of the albums but got carried away and started defacing the albums, eventually smashing and tearing them into pieces. Not wanting to show Neat the damage they just packed everything into the boxes, and so Neat sent them to the US. But instead of complaints Johnny ordered more?  As time went by he asked Neat if Venom would be interested in coming to the US for a few shows.....

"I remember when Neat told us of this guy in the US who wanted to organize some shows" said Cronos, "The first thing we talked about was how we could get our show [pyros etc] to the US, and who we could get to open for us.  A friend of mine was a bootlegger and used to import loads of rare Kiss bootlegs etc and he had shown me a shitty quality video of a new band from San Francisco where the guitarist was wearing a Venom tee shirt
". [Metallica]

The first US shows were great for Venom, they had asked Johnny Z to get Metallica to open for them. "It was great to see that both Europe and the US were very into what we were doing" explained Cronos, "the UK didn't really give a shit about our metal, but we figured that was always the case with people always wanting bands from somewhere else, rather than appreciating your own bands, but we had a blast in the States, we started planning our return before we even left.
Not all of the band liked the foreign shows though, our guitarsit really hated the US for some reason of his own, it was like something spooked him, he nicknamed himself 'Anti Septic' and even decided to stay in a hotel room on his own to get away from everyone, a bit sad really".


A year later, having now established themselves as pariahs of the metal world
, yet conversely building a strong fan base among those who worshipped hardcore metal, Venom returned with arguably their most important album… Black Metal

“We knew that together we had an original sound, the unholy din that came at you when we kicked into a track was truly tremendous, trying to get this mayhem down onto tape in a studio was another matter, I tried my best with all of the skills I had learned as a studio engineer, I just went for the heaviest sound I could get, I mean there was no way I was ever going to make Venom sound like Lynyrd Skynyrd now was there? It was pure mayhem from start to finish".

“The Venom sound came about more through time constraints than anything else. We only spent three days on Welcome To Hell, and about 7 days at the Studios for Black Metal, this is all the time that Neat would allow us in the studio actually. I always had more to do with the production than anyone else, and that was because I had studio experience. I was there from dawn to dusk, from the first equipment being brought into the building, to the final tapes being taken out. I would work alongside the studio engineer for the recordings but preferred to mix without anyone else there. The studio equipment was old and we didn’t have anything like SSL, (programmable desks)”.

For Cronos this period was a somewhat frustrating time, being in a band gaining momentum, yet also forced to work with others on the label.

“The period of time leading up to the Black Metal era was quite infuriating for me. Why? Because, as I said before, I was in the studio as an engineer with bands like White Spirit, Fist and Raven etc, they all thought they were the dog’s bollocks, but I found it odd that most of them were just trying to be like bands that already existed, and not many of them had much of their own originality. I actually got most of them signed as the label didn't have a clue about this type of music. I started working as A&R for Neat, and I'd go to the clubs around the north east and check out all the local up and coming Rock / Metal bands, I'd then advise Neat which bands I thought were possibly worth a single for the label.  I'd also sit in on all the sessions so I could check out their potential, or not.  A lot of these bands were just local wannabe Rock Stars. They were getting their first taste of attention to test their merit, and unfortunately for some of them, it went to their heads, and this is when all the rivalry started..... some of them thought they could treat people with disrespect, they all started stabbing each other in the backs and it went way beyond a joke".

"The bullshit even came in Venom's direction with certain bands getting us banned from certain rehearsal rooms in the area, so I'd have to book the studios under different band names to get some rehearsal time, until we finally ended up rehearsing in a church, it was the only place left who'd hire to us".

"I used to think, 'oh yeah that's the thanks I get for helping you fuckers get a record out', but I don't really give a shit anymore, they had their chance to make a career in music, but they blew it, now where are they? Their biggest enemy was with themselves, bigoted attitudes and self defeating principles, they were happy slogging up and down the country hitting the clubs for fifty quid a night, but I was thinking on an international scale, even though I probably didn't know it at the time.”

"I always thought the music and the songs were the main reason to be in a band, there had to be an energy that existed within the songs like nothing else, a new direction. I've been writing music and lyrics since I was very young, and the order in which songs are recorded doesn't really matter, I could be writing songs for a new album and think 'oh yeah' I've got that idea I came up with 5 years ago that I'll have a go at".

Not all
of the songs for what was to become one of the definitive metal albums of all time were brand new either, with the compositional ink barely dry on the proverbial pages. ‘Buried Alive’ and ‘Raise The Dead’, for instance, had dried mud on their boots.  “There’s a tape of Clive Archer singing ‘Raise The Dead’,” laughs Cronos. “And we had ‘Buried Alive’ written for the first album, but didn’t feel we were capable of doing it justice at the time when we recorded the first album demos.”

‘Buried Alive’ saw Cronos, with his studio experience, taking a real perfectionist’s attitude.

“I didn’t want BBC-type effects for the intro, with cabbages being cut up to sound like earth shoveled onto a coffin – I wanted the real thing. So, we brought in a cardboard box and loads of mud, put microphones into the box and used spades to throw the mud into the box. And Keith Nichol, our engineer (given a co-production credit on the record) was brilliant about it. We called him Woody Woodpecker, because he was about three foot tall and had red hair, but he’d go the extra mile to get us what we wanted.”

One other song on Black Metal had a bit of history to it, as the bassist explains.

“One day in the studio, the drummer was very late for the session, the guitarist and I were jamming through some new riffs and I started to work the words out. One of our roadies came in the room and jumped behind the kit, we started to mess around with the ideas and the song ‘Countess Bathory’ was born.  The drummer later came in and we played the new song for him, he then got behind the kit and tried to make up a new drum pattern, but the one the roady had played worked best, he was furious that we ganged up on him and made him play the roadies beats, he wanted to put his own stamp on the track but none of his beats were working, he hated the song for ages".

"Mention of the old drummer brings up an itch that Cronos is willing to scratch. “His role, or lack of it, in the songwriting process caused a lot of arguments in the band later on. You see, he never wrote anything, despite getting credits. It was always down to me and sometimes the guitarist to write the songs. I would either just introduce a new song to everyone or sometimes I'd go to the guitarists house and share our ideas, he would show me his new songs and any spare riffs he had composed that he wanted me to put lyrics to, and I would teach him the riffs for my songs, but the drummer was never there and never wrote any songs".

The album ends with something highly unusual – a song that’s a taster for things to come, namely a sneak preview of the title track for what was to be the band’s third album, At War With Satan, eventually released in 1984.

The At War With Satan album idea started off as a story I wrote while I was still at school.  It was going to be a Satanic Bible type idea that I wanted to have published as a novel,” explains Cronos. “It was about the battle between Heaven and Hell. I had the whole idea mapped out. And then it turned into this concept album. I suppose it was our equivalent of ‘Rush’s ‘2112’, although theirs was more about oppression. Anyway, I thought it would be cool to do a teaser at the end of the Black Metal record, just to warn the fans what was to come. And we did do the concept album. In fact, we devoted the whole of the first side of our At War With Satan album to the title song, which was unheard of back then for a band like us! And, if there’s some real trivia freaks reading, get this: when I originally mastered the tracks in the studio and put together the AWWS Intro track that ends Black Metal with the full song ‘At War With Satan’, it came to 21 minutes and 12 seconds 2112 on the audio data file, cool eh!”

Black Metal was released later in 1982, to a massive acclaim from the metal underground, and even the mainstream started to take some notice. For Cronos, there was a sense of vindication, although critical acceptance never bothered him. The man’s dream was coming true, even it was a nightmare for others.

By time the Black Metal album hit the shops, Venom were planning their next Live event!  The stories of their shows they played [destroyed] in old church halls as the band were forming were well known, then a chance opportunity to make a show in Belgium arose and they set off.

Explains Cronos I was always frustrated that Black Sabbath never took things a stage further. They might sing about Satan, but still asked God to help them! You know, people go to watch Dracula movies, but none of them want to be the vampire. In Venom I wanted to be the devil, to be the vampires!  What’s more, this young metal punk from Newcastle tilted the metal world off its axis.

Although Cronos maintained, “I always had a vision. Most bands starting out were playing pubs. That was never for me. We did a video for the songs ‘Witching Hour’ and ‘Bloodlust’ (from Welcome To Hell) to show promoters what sort of stage show we wanted – and they’d all say, ‘But if you do that then you’ll be skint’. Did we care? Did we fuck! All these other artists would spend any money they got from gigs on beer. We spent it on bigger and better pyros – and who had the last laugh?

But we should leave the last word on Black Metal to a man who understands the legacy of the album better than most – Slayer’s Kerry King:

I know the guys won’t mind me saying that they were the best band in the world with the worst musicians. I still listen to Black Metal and it’s still awesome. I see Cronos occasionally, and he’s like Superman. He might be dressed casually, but you just know that underneath he’s got on the spikes and studs!

But how to follow a masterpiece? As hinted at above, it was with a conceptual piece, At War With Satan.

“That’s a title you can take two ways. On the one hand, you could say it’s about going to war with Satan, in other words being on his side. On the other hand, you could take it as suggesting a war against Satan. Depends on the way you wanna take it. The album actually ends with the angels being cast down into hell, and planning to fight their way out. They’d become the outcasts. It’s all down to your point of view".

In a 2004 interview, Cronos explained; "I deliberately kept people guessing, I didn't even explain the meaning of the song to the other band members, they haven't got a clue.  I think one should read the story and make one's own mind up how you envisage the meaning.  I actually started writing the story when I was a teenager, we had a history lesson at school and had to talk about the bible and what we thought certain sections meant etc.  I decided to write a story on the war between heaven and hell, and writing from the perspective of a continuation of the end of the bible, so my At War With Satan story starts where the bible ends, as a continuation".

"The music was a fantastic challenge, although it was a very difficult song to teach the drummer and guitarist.  I started showing them sections while we were rehearsing the songs for the Black Metal album, and this is how we were able to record the into section for the end of the album.  Recording the actual album was and we had to record it in sections which I edited together after I'd mixed the track".


“Loads of people were amazed that a band like us decided to do a concept album, but to me it was no big deal. So what? It’s just a collection of songs and sounds. Like any other record. The difference with this was that every song linked into what went before. Maybe it was because of the very idea that a musician like myself would even think about writing a story, then turn it into a ‘concept’ album, that’s only for REAL bands who can play their instruments, not the likes of Venom, ha.”

In truth, At War With Satan
was a glorious failure in some peoples minds, the sweeping strokes of the concept setting up the music in a manner that demands a huge production, one that sadly the band were unable to deliver, because of budgetary constraints. Now, if Jim Steinman, or Bob Ezrin had been on the case…ah, but such was the lot of Venom in the early 1980s, constantly learning to experiment and to be creative within the limited confines of their independent status. "And that's exactly where I disagree", snaps Cronos "I feel that in actuality, Venom’s music was actually enhanced by not having an enormous budget, to think of that album with an Americanised production would have killed it, the raw sound was what made it real for me, real musicians playing real music".

“I always favoured individuality. For me, it was the theatrics of Alice Cooper or Kiss, and the music of Jethro Tull, Black Sabbath and Bowie that was important. Sure, I loved Judas Priest and Motörhead, but madcap individuality really made a mark on me. I was fucking determined that Venom would always do what we considered to be right at the time. No giving in to pressure from outsiders. There were – still are – too many who think that the way forward is to be part of the pack. Yeah, you might get a little bit of success, but can you look at yourself in the mirror, knowing that you’ve always done what’s right, rather than something that just earns easy money, whoever said 'I did it my way'?.

“I know that Venom never played anybody’s game. We were always true to just one thing: VENOM. Whether we succeeded or failed, it was on our own terms. I can’t stress that enough, because it’s the creed that defines us.  I always tell whoever is in the band, look, Venom is more important than any one member of the band, no matter how cool you think you are, bollocks, its only really Venom that matters, and whoever is in the band needs to compliment Venom, and not the other way around.

As I write these word for the new Venom box set I think about the time, and it was around this time – 1983 – that I first met Venom. Having championed their cause in various magazines for a couple of years, I finally came face to metaphorical cowl with them at a photo shoot in North London. Cronos immediately made an impression. He seemed to be the only one who fitted the media analysis of the Venom psyche, although he was obviously the ideas man, the one who had the big picture, the vision to steer this band into the right direction. He had little time for any contemporaries whom he dismissed with an almost imperious wave of his hand, and espoused the Venom determination to remain unbowed and untethered by trends.

By contrast, the guitarist was quietly spoken and seemed almost uncomfortable with the music scene, speaking about everyone who was involved in the industry as 'liggers'. He started refusing to do interviews and would only come out of his hotel room to go to the show and then straight back afterwards, he'd say 'I don't want to know anything, just point me to the stage'. Maybe it was the first stirrings on an unrest that would see him quit the band within a couple of years, but he wasn’t the rock demon we’d all expected – and anticipated.   Meanwhile, the drummer who started out looking like Animal from the muppet show with the words 'fucking cunt' plastered across his kick drum skins, ended up looking like he should have joined Deep Purple, the road crew used to call him David Cover-version.  While he may not have been the greatest drummer in the world, he so clearly understood what it took to smash his drum kit.  It was a strange trio to say the least. A band who were like no others around. And all held together by the singers aura of invincibility.

Strange to tell that the next twist in the story is one that amazed everyone – and took us all by surprise. The band decided to record a single called ‘Warhead’. Nothing weird there, except that it got airplay on the Radio One Breakfast Show!
 
Cronos recalls: “We didn’t do the single with that in mind at all. But Tommy Vance picked up on the song and loved it so much he started to give us a lot of airplay.” The upshot was that Mike Reid, at the time doing the aforementioned Breakfast Show, decided to play a snippet from the song each day for a week, building up to airing the whole track, much to the shock of many used to smoother fare with their bacon and eggs.

“It wasn’t a gimmick, because that was never something
I wanted, or expected. All I did was record what I felt was a true metal song, something that stomped, had energy and growled in the usual manner of a Venom metal song. The fact that others picked up on it was a bonus.  You know, a lot of supposed metal or hard rock bands record singles that are designed for radio airplay. That’s an abomination to me. So, I went in completely the opposite way, and it seemed to hit the right note with someone".

“There were also those who objected to the song’s title, because they thought we were advocating war as being something cool. Fuck ’em! That wasn’t in our minds at all. To us, this was entertainment, and about as serious as violent horror movies. You don’t take them to task do you? Well, you shouldn’t. But it’s typical of some sections of our society who think they’re intelligent, and yet are easily fooled into making idiots of themselves by missing the whole point of something like ‘Warhead’. It was a fucking song, not a statement. Did anyone think we walked around with nuclear warheads under our arms? Oh sure!”

With the success of the record being played on the main radio station in the UK, it ensured that, Venom were synonymous with metal in the minds of the mainstream British public, those who remained oblivious to the charms of Iron Maiden or Motörhead. But things were starting to get a little fraught in the Venom camp, with
the guitarist starting to lose the plot.

In 1985 with the imminent release of their fourth album 'Possessed', the band decided to organise a headline tour of America, [*note: this is the tour that saw Slayer supporting them] although a week or so before the tour started the guitarist contacted the label to say he had an illness and couldn't do the tour, so they scoured Newcastle searching for a replacement as the tour was to important to cancel. This was when they came across Dave Irwin from the band Fist, although as time was short he didn't feel he could learn the full set, so they also hired Les Cheetham from the band Avenger to learn the second half the live set. The two new guys played just over half the tour before the guitarist flew out to join the last few shows. The US press reported that they thought the shows with the two new guys worked better.

It was reported at the show in Los Angeles that the journalist was amused to notice that the assorted members of Slayer were at the front of the stage headbanging furiously when Venom roared into their set. To Slayer and a whole generation of young American metalheads, the Newcastle nutters were genuine heroes – they provided a way forward, the sound for a new generation.

“I don’t think I realised how much we meant to Americans, until this tour,” Cronos said at the time. “But we seem to have become the godfathers of an extreme sound, one that has a lot of American input right now. Crazy isn’t it? We’re bigger in the US and Europe than we are at home.”

For all their impetus and momentum in America, Venom clearly lacked the financial wherewithal to make the move to the next level. And, if that American tour proved one thing it was that the road ahead was gonna be tough, although Cronos was completely understanding of this fact; "I knew when we started to realize we could make a career out of Venom that the day would come when we had to make a decision, when we'd have to meet the devil at the crossroads, and that was to either sell out to the majors or keep our integrity and stick to our guns. I'd seen other Neat bands 'sign the deal' and then disappear after one album, and this is coz the majors will make you change, to make you commercial, to alter what your about to increase 'sales', but this will change what your about and destroy everything you've made.  I could only ever work with a major if they let me keep full artistic control, because I'm not gonna let anyone destroy Venom, maybe one day they will realize this, but for now they think they know it all, but I disagree".

I've interviewed many musicians over the years, and always find it interesting the way Cronos refers to Venom as 'we', when in fact he is talking about his own ideas. I've spoke to other journalists about this, and it seems as if he unconsciously thinks of Venom as a separate entity, like something he is part of rather than something he created. No matter which members are in the band or which line up he's talking about, he will say 'we did this or we wanted that etc'. "I've always preferred the idea of being in a band" says Cronos, "I really enjoy working with other musicians and creating music with other band members.  Even when I create most of the music I'll still share the credit with the musicians I'm working with so its a band effort.  I've been corrected a few times by journalists over the years when they say 'you mean you created this or you made that', but old habits die hard, and I still say 'we' when I speak of Venom".

"I know it can annoy my close friends when I speak about the ideas that 'we' had
for Venom in the early days, when my friends know I had these ideas before I met the original members.  They were playing in a cover band with no vision of any direction they wanted to go in.  I introduced them to writing original songs and booked the studio I worked in so we could make some demos.  I'm not sure if those guys would have even been able to get a deal if I hadn't motivated everyone into getting their shit together. Neat most certainly would never have offered them a deal, and the only other label in the area 'Guardian Studios' were only working with the bands they knew on a very small scale".

By the end of the US tour, Cronos was getting more and more frustrated with the way the guitarist was distancing himself from the rest of the band, so he started looking for a new guitarist. He was getting tired of his attitude and was clearly distracted at times. He seemed to lack the ambition and focus, and as the band were recording their latest album, Possessed, his contribution was almost at a standstill.

“He’d lost touch with reality and was acting like a diva with bullshit demands", said the singer. "His input wasn’t really what was needed and he didn’t have any passion.  We also made a big mistake by hiring a swanky Stately Home to work on the album. We were used to old church halls and basements, where we’d work up the songs in the past. Now, we were in the wrong environment for the music we wanted to make. When we arrived the guitarist thought he could just lie around and do fuck all thinking he was lord of the manor, but we were there to make an album so it was wrong for the spirit of Venom. He had no new song ideas at all, I've no idea how he thought the album was gonna be created, maybe he was hoping I'd do everything, and it's bloody lucky I did have a shit load of ideas.  The only song we'd all worked on was the title track, I'd came up with this during the writing of the first album, although the riff was originally the riff for Manitou, although I swapped lyrics as it worked better the other way around.”

It’s no surprise that Possessed got something of a muted response from critics and fans alike when it was released in 1985, but on reflection the album is actually better than seemed to be the case at the time.

“I like the songs on Possessed,” agrees Cronos. “What let it down was the production and the bands aggressive input, or lack of it, we should have rehearsed the songs before going into the studio, the way we did the other albums, the songs are good songs, but I just had to record the album by showing them each song, then once they had a grasp of the tune we'd record it, then I put all the singing on later, so the songs don't really get a chance to settle and find their true speed etc. I do think the songs on that album are good, yeah they could have been recorded better, and the album got a bad press from people at the time, and it deserves better.”

After we released the double live album [Eine Kleine Nacht Musik] We started work on the 5th studio album that I was gonna call Deadline, but all the ideas from the guitarist were just wrong, not Venom at all. They were terrible guitar pieces he ended up using on his solo stuff – and not at all right for Venom.”
And so, the guitarist was asked to leave, he'd become visibly depressed, and his selfish and costly demands were causing friction between the members, so it was decided he had to go.  And so where did this leave the band? Simple, doing what Motörhead had recently done, namely replacing one guitarist with two others.

The two men in question were American Mike Hickey and Englishman Jim Clare. It was a case of the band taking advantage of their changed circumstances to expand their sound.  Now a four-piece, Venom found that they could try different things musically. As Motörhead discovered when they brought in Wurzel and Phil Campbell, potentially there’s a new dimension to the approach.

“Having two guitarists in the line-up did take us in a different direction. It was an exciting time because it gave us a real shot in the arm, a shot of enthusiasm from the new guys. Mind you, it had a down side for me personally. With two guitars there, I was suddenly faced with my bass lines being a little swamped, and that did not please me at all!”

The new look Venom released just one album, 1987’s Calm Before The Storm. Now, this was a period when the whole thrash movement was at its height, and the genre was starting to fragment. Some bands were becoming more sophisticated, while others were delving into altogether more extreme areas of music. It was an easy time for Venom, because they were unique and ground breakers, so a controversial new direction was perfect to keep the fans guessing as to what the band will do next.

Determined to stick firmly to their own path, they certainly opened up their sound somewhat with Calm…,
and probably enough to attract a new audience. However, they were sufficiently removed from the roots of the band to please some diehards, as even those who would only be satisfied with a repetition of the Black Metal formula, they saw that Cronos was again taking a chance and pushing the boundaries of what makes a band great, for such is the price of success and reputation.

While the sound of the album still had a brutal edge, nonetheless the dark imagery of the past had given way to a more sophisticated approach. And it worked extremely. As so many other bands have found in the past when changes do occur to the delicate mechanism that is a rock or metal band – especially one as important as Venom had been – it’s as if a chain reaction has been set in motion; the restive spirit suddenly takes over, and with it comes a succession of changes, and as the rot that had set into the late guitarist spread to the drummer, the singer knew his replacement was only a matter of time. Venom toured in Japan and South America, but Cronos and the two guitarists were getting frustrated by the drummers lack of commitment, and he stated cancelling rehearsals and refusing to get together to plan bands future. 

Cronos had the American guitarist living at his house at the time, and it was becoming too much for both of them to just sit around all day bored, then a
t the end of 1988 Cronos said he'd had enough, and asked the guitarist to go home to the States and find a new drummer, which he did.  So the front man – who had become the figurehead of Venom over the years, decided it was time to move on, he declared he was forming a new band with the two guitarists, intent on starting a new career, by forming a new band with a new direction called…Cronos.

“That name wasn’t my intention. I never really saw the new project as being something of a solo band, I prefer the concept of ‘The Band’ rather than a one person deal, but I could have looked like a solo artiste to the outside world, because it had my name on it. I had a whole list of band names drawn up, including Ghost or Transatlantic. In the end, though, I was persuaded – against my better judgement – to go for Cronos as the name of the new project.”

"I moved over to America and we began to work the band, write new songs and tour. I thought it was important to start in the US as if it wasn't going to work, then I'd find out quick over there as they have no time for losers, plus the States was one of the first countries to really 'get' Venom back in the day".

Wherever contact was made with the underground metal scene, Venom were the guv’nors. To those who worshipped an ever increasing desire to go beyond the bounds of normality in metal, Venom represented the apogee. They were the band who’d inspired so many to pick up guitars and try their luck. On the East Coast, the West Coast, in Texas…wherever you may have roamed, the spectre of Venom loomed. You spoke to young bands just beginning, and within a few minutes you just knew they’d be mentioning the hallowed name of ‘Venom’ in hushed tones. It was astonishing to think of the bands impact. The secret of Venom lies locked partially in serendipity, partly in belief, yet largely in a mythology that’s built on the solid foundations of ideas created by Cronos.

It was Cronos who always had the attitude and psychology to stand apart, determined to bring the sort of success to the band that nobody ever felt was possible, and it was he who had the vision to motivate the band into the studio and march the band forward, without him they would have never made the step forward. Cronos would have undoubtedly followed his instincts and bust his way onto the metal scene regardless of if he'd met the others or not, he was already working with other musicians before Venom so it was only a matter of time, and considering he also created the artwork that helped establish the image of the band, I guess Venom or a version of was always going to be, it was his destiny, and obvious now as he is the only original member still going strong and creating venomous metal after over 30 years in the business, the others just didn't have the staying power.

Maybe, to some extent, he was fuelled by a hatred of the way in which he was ignored by his local peers. Perhaps there was a certain one-faceted fanaticism which drove him on, maybe he had the unique vision of fusing rock with punk to create a totally unique sound to call his own, or maybe he's on of the last of the true originals, the larger than life front men like Ozzy or Lemmy or Elvis [?], but whatever it was, Cronos knew there was a way forward – and he was ready to take it.

Cronos, therefore, had the vision
, and every successful band needs that one person who has the will, guts and sheer stubbornness to stand against the odds.  Some believe that, with bigger budgets, better production values and more market savvy Venom would have achieved so much more. But that is to completely miss the point. What made them so important was that they were so much of the street. Their music had much in common with the punks of a few years earlier, and rock musicians of today. They inspired so many to start their own bands, because they seemed within reach.  Moreover, they dared to make bold, brash statements that were shocking yet also true. They dismissed so many of their contemporaries for differing reasons, and time has proven them to be correct. While many who were hailed as future heroes in the early 1980s disappeared, the Venom legend has gone from strength to strength, their achievements multiplied in the telling.

At the start of the 1990s, a new sub-genre of black metal began to spread in Scandinavia. At first all the y
oung bands in Norway were hailing Venom as their godfathers, and their inspiration.

By 1994 Cronos had released 3 albums and been hard at work with his band throughout, content to release his albums and play all manner of sized venues worldwide. Cronos had recruited new drummer Mark Wharton of Cathedral and they went into the studio to lay down the demos for the new album, during this session, and at the request of Mark who was a massive Venom fan, they recorded some of the old Venom classics. Neat Records immediately asked if they could use the tracks on a compilation album, it was the Cronos album entitled Venom. This not only featured new material with a classic Venom approach. But also re-visits such old Venom favourites as ‘1000 Days In Sodom’, ‘7 Gates Of Hell’ and ‘At war With Satan’. It was a project that re-ignited the bassist/vocalist’s love for Venom.

“It was my third album under the Cronos band name (following on from 1990’s Dancing In The Fire and Rock ’N’ Roll Disease three years later), and playing those old Venom songs again with Mark on drums was fucking brilliant. He gave them a new twist, and had a real passion for them".

“Doing this album did get me thinking about getting the classic Venom line-up back again. But by that point, there hadn't been a Venom for more than 5 years or so, the band had already split up again after a disastrous attempt to make things work with a different singer. So, I had a good think about it, and I discussed the pros and cons with a couple of lawyer friends of mine in London who were great at offering practical advice.  I thought I might be able to re-capture the past magic again and continue where we left off in 1986, I knew there was no messy problem with having to get rid of anyone as they'd all went their separate ways. so I finally decided to make contact, just to see if we could do the right thing, who knows? it could be great fun.”

Cronos made contact with his old band mates, and eventually the re-union got off the ground. But not without teething problems. "I stated from the start that if anyone didn't taker this 100% serious I was going to end the project, I wasn't in the game of making a joke of this. I wanted to show the world what a mature original Venom could produce, although I think the other two had actually undergone lobotomies rather than maturing into better musicians".

“I had to drag them forward a bit. the guitarist [Jeff] had cut his hair off, so the old lifestyle wasn’t something which appealed to him. [by 'old lifestyle' I mean the long studio hours and touring etc, not the partying, as he never partied anyway] And as expected, the old arguments soon resurfaced. But for a short time, we got it back together, and we were able to headline the Dynamo Festival.” (with 89,000 fans).

The revived trio released one album, 1997’s Cast In Stone, but were soon submerged by problems that seemed to overshadow any rapport they might have. Even during the recording of the album there were issues which the engineer mentioned in an interview. "I decided to set up a click track to help keep the drums in time, although during the recording of one of the tracks the kit kept speeding up, and so they had to start over time and time again. When one of the frustrated band members asked what the problem was, the drummer said that the 'click was moving', :) yeah Classic".

These any many other issues followed, until not long after the album launch, there was a standoff between Cronos and the drummer that eventually led to the latter leaving.

“We had problems,” admits Cronos. “We really weren’t getting on. Then one day, the drummer sent me a letter to tell me 'your services are no longer required', ha, the cheeky twat obviously forgot who he was fuckin with, and thus sealed his fate,  my response was, ‘You can’t kick the Devil out of hell, I’m firing you!’. We had this crazy situation where both of us felt we could kick the other out of the band.”

Ultimately, it was Cronos who came out on top, with
the drummer quitting to pursue a job on a building site, leaving the frontman and the guitarist to move forward.
 Cronos hired a nu-metal drummer who hadn't been doing much with any other bands, so he jumped at the chance pf playing for Venom.  The trio flew to Germany to record the 'Resurrection' album, then played some shows in Germany and Holland.  But of course, this is Venom, so nothing stays stable for very long.

In February 2002, Cronos had a climbing accident while out mountaineering with his old mates from the Marines in Wales, this meant he couldn’t play bass, sing or anything as he was wearing a neck brace etc, and the Doctors had estimated a year or two of recovery, Cronos told the guitarist to get on with whatever he could and make the most of this time, he knew he'd been talking about making another solo album, so the guitarist decided to start his own band – then after he recorded his album a press statement was released declaring that he wasn’t going to return to Venom, and as he'd invested a lot of time in his new band he wanted to pursue his new direction, leaving Cronos to carry on with the name Venom.

"I figured he wouldn't return to Venom anyway" stated Cronos, "I could smell it in the air starting from the last gigs we did in around 1997.  The show offers were drying up and the labels weren't exactly fighting over themselves for us, so once the drummer pulled a fast one and jumped ship during the recording of Resurrection, I knew it was only a matter of time before the guitarist found an excuse to run like fuck from the sinking ship.  The thing is, they have no staying power, no vision of the future and no balls, they don't have the ideas I have for Venom, and they certainly don't want to put the hard work into it, I reckon they'd still be playing Judas Priest cover songs in an old damp rehearsal room if I hadn't motivated them.  I could make a prediction now and say I'll bet that once I get Venom up and running and start recording and playing live, I wouldn't be surprised if they got in touch begging to reform the original band again, basically trying to jump on the band wagon of my hard work. Bollocks, I will never work with those cowards ever again, fact".

Once Cronos got the 'all clear' from his Doctors, he
started to mastermind the return of Venom, but this time it was all or nothing, as his time away from the band had given him a better perspective of what Venom was all about, and what was needed to make Venom great again.

Cronos decided to contact
the American guitarist who played on the 'Calm Before The Storm' album, and asked if he'd be up for helping him reform the group Venom. 
Both the guitarist and the drummer off the 'Resurrection' album agreed to help Cronos re-establish the band, although Cronos knew they wouldn't be in the band for the long haul, Cronos needed to keep his eyes peeled for other permanent members. 

They started work on
a new Venom album, [Metal Black] which Cronos described as 21st Century Black Metal. The album came out in March 2006 on the Sanctuary Group Music label followed by the Single / EP of Antechrist c/w Metal Black.

It’s been a long, strange, and somewhat twisted trip for Cronos. Full of amazing stories and astounding tales, plus he remains philosophical about the decision to again work with the original members, even though it didn't work out second time around, as one thing is now definitely for sure, there will never be an original members line up reunion ever again.

That's a fact that Cronos made very clear in a recent interview: "The itch has been scratched, there's no reason to ever repeat a dead idea, it didn't work with the 'second coming', and so in my opinion it will never work, so we can hammer the nails into that coffin well and truly shut.  I agreed to reform the band out of curiosity really, I wanted to see if we could re-capture the drive and passion I thought we had when we started, but now I know it will never be and we can't turn back the clock. We are very different people with different ideas of what the band is about, so now its over, I don't see the point of trying again, as it will now always just be arguments, frustration and lies, not to mention I really don't like who they've become as people, and I will never trust anything they say ever again, too many lies were told and too much bad happened during the reformation".

The most important thing for me though is the actual integrity of the band.... I work hard to create an extreme music the fans can be proud of, although it annoys me that the others are complacent about the professionalism of what we create, both in the studio and live.  I refuse play with musicians who are sloppy and don't care about being the best they can be, I don't see playing Black Metal as a chore, quite the reverse, its a joy and a challenge, so to me I cannot tolerate laziness and lousy musicians, it's unacceptable.  So my quest continues, the reason I wanted to be in a band since I was a kid in the 1960's, and that is to find other musicians who have a similar drive and understanding as I do to play extreme metal, musicians who want to be the best they can be, and to make awesome albums and play killer shows, and until I find these people, I will continue to replace the members of Venom until that goal is reached, and with no compromises"
.

“What am I most proud of achieving with Venom?” asks Cronos rhetorically. “Standing apart from all the sheep in the music industry.  You look at the music business, and most bands want to copy other artists’ success, they are scared to do something original and make something new in case other people don't like it, and we know that most people don't like change, they are happiest in their comfort zones, any new idea or different is usually shunned at first until people can put it in a box with a label, so most musicians out there would rather copy a style that's already established. But did I ever do that? NO chance! I might have made mistakes, yeah but all of the ideas were all mine, and I made it from my own incentive and not because I was trying to be a clone of someone else".

With Venom there is always some controversy, and there are two crucial areas that need to be broached, namely the controversy that arose with Metallica, and also just how did they come up with the name ‘Black Metal’?  Let’s start with the whole Metallica scenario…

In February 1984, Metallica came over to Europe for the first time. They toured as support to Venom. But any suggestion that the two bands would bond was soon dispelled. Even during the tour, Venom had a certain dismissive attitude to the young Bay Area upstarts.  Metallica had never made any secret of the fact that Venom were a significant influence on them – in their early days, they regularly wore Venom T-shirts, and have always had the utmost respect for Venom’s importance:

Black metal, speed metal, death metal - Venom started it all!” says Lars Ulrich. "As for that ‘Black Metal’ tag… It was Venom’s own determination to be different that led to them coming up with the term ‘black metal’… as well as a ton of other titles in an attempt to describe their music which they felt was like nothing else around at that time."".

“You see, back then everyone with long hair was called ‘heavy metal’,” explains Cronos. “So, we were lumped in with bands like Journey and Foreigner – we were all ‘heavy metal’. There were none of these genres like thrash, death and speed metal as we have now. We didn’t want anything to do with those bands at all. In fact, we slagged almost everyone off during interviews."

“We were interviewed by a magazine one day, and the journalist just said, ‘OK, if you’re not heavy metal, what are you?’. So I just said, ‘We’re black metal’.
I never thought for a moment that the thing would stick and grow into something so massive, even though what’s known as ‘black metal’ these days has no connection with what we did nearly 25 years ago.”

“I think the term ‘black metal’ was just one of a number we threw out to that journalist at the time. We started off calling ourselves ‘long haired punks’, and then ‘power metal’, ‘death metal’, ‘thrash metal’. But the ‘black metal’ thing struck some sort of chord. What finally convinced me that we didn’t want anything to do with ‘heavy metal’ was when Eddie Van Halen did that single ‘Beat It’ with Michael Jackson – it got in the metal charts, for fuck’s sake! We decided then that Venom was no longer ‘heavy metal’. Let bands like Raven be called that – we had to stand apart. We didn’t want to call ourselves New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, because that was a mouthful, so we invented our own genre
".

“And guess what? The song ‘Black Metal’ itself is actually about playing live, it’s about a Satanic band (Venom) playing live! With power amps set to explode, in Hell!"

Venom
are a band who still sell enormous quantities of T-shirts that bear the album covers and logos which are the artwork of Cronos, the man who invented the emblems for the band and created that look to go with their unholy sound, and even today a massive amount of people still want to wear those classic designs, and Venom albums continue to inspire more young bands even today.


“One thing I was delighted about was that a small label recently put out a Venom tribute record,” says Cronos. “What I loved about it was that the bands all did something unique and different with our songs – they weren’t trying to copy what we’d done. They understood the spirit of Venom. If you’re going to do a cover, then make damn sure you inject your own vibe on the song. Otherwise, what’s the point?

“If we’ve taught people anything then that would be, Don’t try to sound like or be like Venom if you record a cover of one of our songs, be yourself, record the song the way you would had YOU wrote it, use what we did as an inspiration if you want, but be true to yourself.”

Venom career like many other great bands who have survived many generations has been a series of ups and downs, and the mark of a great band is learning how to go with the flow and survive the down times.  Cronos has always had a very strong vision for Venom and has always been able to see through the thick of the troubles and keep his focus on the important issues, his ability to learn from past mistakes and take on new challenges head on has given Venom that rock solid foundation that the band has needed to survive a tough cut throat industry.  He has spoke about the many bands he worked with during his time at Impulse Studios and he must have learned a lot about the many issues the bands have faced which have either destroyed their careers or made them stronger, and Cronos's story is certainly all about making him and Venom stronger. 

Cronos stated: "Yeah I've had to make some hard decisions and big sacrifices, but you have to be brave and selfless to achieve greatness, nothing comes easy, but with regards to the people who wish to be part of Venom, from band members to crew etc, its a simple case of; 'if their not part of the solution then they are part of the problem', so they definitely have to go.  Decisions concerning other musicians who you've worked with for years are always tough, but the way I see it is Venom is bigger than any one member, and there's a responsibility to the fans that the musicians have to take into consideration.  I'm not going to tolerate any musician giving any less that 110% to the music and the fans, I won't have any sympathy for any musician who doesn't treat this band with complete integrity and respect, this is the greatest job in the world, and there needs to be a level of trust and understanding, because there are a lot of people who genuinely put a lot of hard work into making this band great, so anyone showing disrespect to the big picture is history". 

"I have no problem at all saying goodbye to any musician who isn't putting his all into the band, and if I feel they have lost their direction, or their idea of what Venom is all about is in conflict with my ideas, then there's no room for compromise.  There will always be people who would say that a band is not the same without the original members, [doh you don't say?] but those days are long gone and its the bands who move on who survive, not the bands who become parodies of themselves.  The fans are a lot more savvy with the music industry nowadays and they can see right through a scam, they aren't gonna pay good money to go see a bunch of old has-beens giving a less than great performance on stage, I've spoke to fans who were disgusted with the bands live performances during the 90's, and to see the ever increasing popularity of Venom now that I've replaced those members with new people who are busting a nut to get it right, so I know I'm on the right path".

Nowadays people really want to see a great band playing a great live set and making a great album, when your paying good money for a concert ticket or an album, the last thing you want is to feel ripped off, so watching some old drummer fucking up the tracks or the guitarist making a million mufuckin mistakes, then its time to let them go as it just ain't funny.  I will only have the best for Venom, the focus is always on Venom being the greatest of the great in every aspect, and that means whoever fits the part as a hardcore fully motivated metalhead, someone who is willing to put the hard work into this band, as ambassadors for Black Metal, even if its only for a year or two as has been the case with certain past members, who joined the band with enthusiasm, then realised being in Venom is hard work, and they start to lose their stamina to keep going, [wimps] well then its time to leave their shrivelled corpses by the roadside and drive off without them, simple as that really, as Venom's Legions deserve only the best of the best at all times".

"At the end of the day I want people to say that Venom were a great band with great musicians, and although its taking me a long time to achieve this, I believe the right people are out there, I just need to find them.  We tried the reunion band with the original members in the mid 90's and it didn't work, it was a disaster and there were too many issues, and I came to realise that apart from the fact that I don't consider them to be good enough musicians for Venom's music, I also don't like or trust them as people, and therefore have no wish to ever work with them again.  Even if this band ends and I'm sweeping the bloody streets, I will never play in a band with the original members no matter what, its a case of been thee, done that, didn't work, why bother.  So I will get the right people to create the greatest line up, who play amazing shows and make killer albums if its the last thing I do, its my mission and I'm not ready to quit any time soon, yes Venom will be everything I wanted it to be and the Legions will be proud to support this amazing band".

In 2004 Cronos announced that it was now time for Venom to try to visit all of the countries that had not yet seen a live Venom show.  Many fans who had met Cronos have told him that many fans in their countries may never get to see Venom Live, as they cannot afford to travel to the likes of Europe, and as it is Venom's music not their stage show that is THE most important, then Venom should at least think about travelling to such countries to play Live for their die hard fans. 

Since then Venom have now been contacted by many Promoters from all around the globe inquiring about bringing Venom to their shores.    Venom were always determined in the early days of their career that a real Venom show had to have all of the pyrotechnics etc etc, or it wasn't a real Venom show... but over the last 10 years or so as Cronos has been going to see other bands he is friendly with, like Slayer and Sklipknot etc, who would also use pyrotechnics as part of their shows, but there would be times when they would play without their full productions, and this is because of a whole host of reasons, like either the venue or the state won't allow pyros, or license can't be obtained etc etc, so it seems crazy to deny the fans of these places a chance to see your band play live just because of a bloody firework. 

So Cronos has now announced that if any territory wants to see a live Venom show, and accepts the fact that they would be unable to bring their full production, then Venom would play a show for them, as at the end of the day, Venom are really about the music, it is Venom's music that has carried them through the last 30 + years, and it's the music on their albums that sells in the music stores, as you certainly don't get fireworks with a CD. [Hmmm now there's an idea?]

In March 2006, Venom released a new album in called Metal Black, and Cronos stated that this is Venom for the 21st century, with a sound and intensity of the 80's Venom, this was an obvious title said Cronos "we put the new line-up together and rehearsed a whole load of the early songs for about three months before I starting to write the album, so the songs emerged in that style, the style of Black Metal, the original name for the album was to be 'Maleficarvm' which is the name of one of the tracks, but people said they couldn't pronounce it (?) so we went for the next option, the controversial one, the name that is already starting fights, people are going nuts fighting over this, although it makes perfect sense to me, Venom play Black Metal which means our Metal is Black, seems fucking obvious to me really, it's the 'same difference', ha, there's another to scratch your heads over?".

Venom increased their Live appearances in 2006 after the launch of the album, starting with a UK Tour in March, Venom received a great response from their Legions, the band hadn't appeared live on their own soil for almost 20 years and weren't sure of what reaction they'd get, but they received a great response from the audiences which also had a lot of fans from Europe who'd travelled to the UK to add their support. The band were also invited to the BBC to record a session at Maida Vale Studios, it had been the Tommy Vance Friday Rock Show which first saw Venom at the BBC in 1985.  The album sales were going very well so the label released the track 'Antechrist' as a single.  The band then headed for the summer Festivals with four main appearances across Europe.  They were bombarded with interview requests from the world press, so Cronos flew to Germany for a week so he could deal with all of the European press in one go, there wouldn't be time to do all of the interviews during the time they had set aside for touring.  Venom loaded up the pyrotechnics and started in Italy by headlining the 'Gods Of Metal Festival', long time friend Phil Anselmo (Pantera / Down) made a guest appearance on stage and joined in with the song Die Hard, the next stop was in Sweden where they headlined the sold out 'Sweden Rock Festival', Venom were so pleased to have finally played in front of their Swedish Legions, as this was one of the territories the band had never been.  Finland came next and Venom headlined the sold out 'Tuska Rock Festival', it had been around 21 years since Venom had last headlined a Finish Festival and the Legions were out in force, then last but certainly not least came Germany on the 21st of July, Venom headlined the 'Earthshaker Festival', the band nearly didn't get to play when an hour or so before they were due to hit the stage the skies went black and the biggest thunderstorm erupted, forcing the police to move the entire audience to a safe place, luckily the event was next to a huge indoor horse show venue that the massive crowd could fit in. Venom eventually hit the stage an hour or so late but all fired up ready for a great show for the German Legions.

Sanctuary also released the 1997 '
Cast In Stone' album in June to the delight of Venom's fans, the album had been almost impossible to get hold of for a number of years, Cronos re mastered the recordings and added some extra bonus material from the 'Venom 96' Limited Edition mini album.  Sanctuary also released the 2 CD 'Cronos Anthology' later the same year which compiled all of the Cronos recordings from the original Neat Records releases, again mastered by Cronos, he included live bonus tracks recordings of the Cronos band playing songs from the Venom 'Calm Before The Storm' album.

In September Venom started their long awaited
American Tour.  The band had already completed a successful tour of the UK earlier in the year and had taken Europe by storm with their appearances at four major sell out festivals, so their assault on America had everyone waiting with baited breath. 

When Venom's management were in discussions with the agents in the US for the tour, they explained that no announcements should be made until
Cronos had dealt with some serious personal family matters he had to attend to, so he couldn't commit to any dates until he had sorted out his affairs. [the details of which are private and not for public knowledge], although somehow the information was leaked which had people guessing about the dates.

The next problem with this was that some of the promoters thought if they went ahead and advertised some dates that the band would have to turn up, wrong!  There were also some bands being told they had the opening support slots even though no bands had been approved by Venom or their management. 

The mess that followed nearly had Venom refusing to tour the US at all, but in the end the band decided to select 10 dates, firstly; so they could finally play for their US Legions who had waited so long for the band to go back to the States, but also to hopefully teach future promoters and agents an important lesson, and that is "no one tells Venom what to do", period.


By August the band were able to go to the US Embassy to get their work permits, they announced their tour dates and contacted a young up and coming new band called;
Goatwhore to support them. they kicked off the tour in Arizona on the west coast to an ecstatic crowd, the band continued with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Cleveland, Chicago, New York, Springfield and Philadelphia.  The American Legions came out in force and the tour was a great success.

The 2006 'Sweden Rock Festival' DVD was released in September featuring a live track (Black Metal) from Venom, the band agreed to let it out without any dubs so you get the real feel of a live show, complete with out of tune guitarist. (hey nice one mike??? not!)  The DVD also featured some of the other artists who played at the festival such as Alice Cooper, Ted Nugent, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Doro, and many others.  Def Leppard also played at the festival but don't feature on the DVD.

January 2007,
Venom announced their new guitarist RAGE, a hardcore Metal guitarist from the very depths of Newcastle, he had stood in for the bands previous American guitarist who had to commute back and forth states, leaving Cronos without a guitarist to rehearse with during many months of the year, but the band wasted no time in getting down to work with the new blood, they began writing the new demos for their next album and planning their next live shows.

Journalists who have followed Venom's career throughout the years for both their jobs and as fans have varying degrees of acceptance over the various past members of the band, and one journalist recently wrote: "I for one was never really convinced with the American guy being back in the band, he worked better in the Cronos band for my liking but never in Venom, I always wondered whether Cronos got him in just to help get the ball rolling after his climbing accident, same with the drummer really, nepotism isn't always a good thing.  I think they are ok as musicians don't get me wrong, but I've interviewed Venom many times, even the ill fated 90's line-up, and there's something not right about an interview when the only person with any answers is the singer? The others looked nervous with that 'please don't ask me any questions' look on their faces, but hey, correct me if I'm wrong, it's just my opinion".

Cronos was back in the Townhouse mastering room with the 'Resurrection' album re-release to make sure it stood up to the sharp production quality.  Sanctuary released the album in April with additional sleeve notes and unseen photos and artwork.   Sanctuary Records Group also announcement that Venom's "Black Metal" album is the biggest selling album on the entire Castle Music label.  The album was released by Castle in 2002 after Sanctuary took control of the entire Neat Records back catalogue, in fact they bought the label. The Neat label were doomed when they lost the likes of Venom, the only band on the label making any money, and as they were unable to continue to release any bands worth talking about, they were forced to declare bankruptcy.

By April of 2007
Venom had spent the first part of the year working on the new demos and rehearsing with their new guitarist, they decided to organise some shows get the new blood up on stage in front of the Legions, this would surely prove he was the man for the job.  Venom then embarked on a 7 Date Tour of Scandinavia at the end of May playing in Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway, this long awaited tour helped forge the new band and prepare them for the upcoming album recording.

The internet plays an important part in many peoples lives in these days, and Venom's Legions have embraced this medium with great enthusiasm, the website 'youtube' receives a fresh batch of mobile phone camera videos from the Venom tour, the quality of the 'phone cams' is poor but there an appeal to this new format, there's something about the videos that give you a sense of the show from the audiences point of view, we get used to seeing highly polished top production videos of bands concerts, but to see the back of someone's head getting in the way of the unsteady unprofessional shaking camera work is fantastic. Cronos has commented that he has seen the videos and thinks they capture something you couldn't get with a 10 camera shoot, the sound quality is terrible as the tiny microphones can't handle the volume created by the mega pa systems, but the videos have an honesty about them, they are usually distorted and break up in sections, but it's the nearest thing to 'Reality TV' your gonna get.

By the end of the year Venom's label 'Sanctuary Group' merge with 'Universal Music', adding more weight to the Venom back catalogue distribution, as well as increased online availability. 
Venom's 'Black Metal' album is revealed as the top selling album out of all the Castle Music catalogues releases. 'Black Metal' was released by Castle in 2002 who then went on to release the rest of the Venom back catalogue.

Venom announce that the new album is finally completed, the Universal Music 'Noise' Label release the new album entitled: HELL in May 2008.  HELL is a fierce collection of intense black metal in true Venom style. The positive reviews speak of an increased intensity in the music, the new guitarist Rages through the riffs while Cronos
snarls and spits every word, slamming his bass lines down in a fury of blackest metal. The metal-press have a very positive response to Rage in Venom. and mention how he brings a sense of the old and new to the band, exactly what Cronos had stated after their first shows together. Rage is possibly the first guitarist to join the band since the original line up who doesn't feel trapped by the styles of other players.  He isn't trying to emanate any other musicians, he's just trying o be the greatest guitarist in Venom, and doing a great job so far :)

A select number of special summer festival shows begin
with Venom headlining day one of the 'Hellfest' three day festival in France, this is Venom's first show in France in 23 years.  Other bands on the bill include: Slayer, Motorhead, Dimmu Borgir & Testament, to name a few.  The concert goes down a storm, and Metallian Magazine release their yearly DVD of the festival called "Hellfest 2008" complete with a track from Venom = 'Welcome To Hell" [fest].

Venom also headline the 'Rock Em All Festival' in Athens, Greece.  The band have been eager to return to Greece since their last show in 1997, and Cronos is amazed at their ever increasing younger fans who cram the front of the stage chanting along with all the Venom classics, "most of these kids weren't even born when the 'Welcome To Hell' or 'Black Metal' albums were released", exclaims Cronos to a Greek magazine, "it just shows that what the fans really want is a great band of musicians playing a great live set, none of these kids give a fuck about the original line-up or any of that, they know all the words to the songs from the latest albums we've released as well as the early material, they are all enthusiastic as hell about metal and eat, drink and sleep this stuff, fucking hell yeah, isn't that a fucking fantastic thing".

Universal Music release 2 limited edition Venom albums for the Japanese market by the end of the year, with "Welcome To Hell" and "Black Metal" being released by the label in special cardboard sleeves as part of their NWOBHM The Hall Of Fame Collection.  Then by early 2009 Cronos starts work on a special edition release of the Black Metal album to coincide with 30th anniversary of the formation of Venom.  The album is released in late August worldwide with a DVD of the "7th Date Of Hell" show, the legendary video of the concert the band played at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1984.  The video has only ever been released on VHS so for the DVD the footage has been digitally re-mastered.

Danté is officially named as the new drummer in Venom after weeks of auditions, the band spend the next few months locked in the studio rehearsing the new line-up. "I believe everything happens for a reason" comments Cronos, "when one door shuts another opens, and the timing was right for this change as we've gained a fresh new perspective, Danté brings exactly that adding an even higher level of intensity to the sound of the band, his knowledge of rock and metal drumming is exactly where the original Venom drummer's influences came from.   We've started writing the new songs for the next album, although were mainly concentrating on rehearsing the tracks for the live set, I want to get this line up ready to get out on the road, I believe that if we get out live then Dante will truly get the feel of what Venom is really a;; about before we record an album.  It is also important for the Legions to see the band live so they can see and hear how amazing this change is, I'm truly amazed at how well this line up has gelled in the short time we've been together, its as if we've been playing for years, seriously, I'm sure he's telepathic [laughs].  Were also having a great time together and firing new ideas back and forth, I'd be prepared to go out on a limb and say this line up is the closest to the original members since the band started, I mean we have the same goals and attitude, and most importantly are all in this for the right reason... the music.  I'm in talks with the management now to start negotiating our live shows as I can't wait to get out there, I just know that were gonna be awesome live, and were ready to go as soon as possible which will definitely be before the end of the year".

Venom get set for their "South American Dates Of Hell Tour 2009".
This tour has been in the planning for many years, and it has now finally came together thanks to the efforts of the bands Management who contacted the South American Promoters, they have been organising many tours up and down the country, the whole of South America is opening up for bands to tour and the timing is now right for a Venom tour.

The tour started in early December 2009 in Mexico, then moved onto Colombia, Chile, Argentina and then Brazil. Venom last toured in Brazil in 1987 and Cronos said at the time that the Brazilian fans were one of the most hardcore metal audiences he'd ever played for, so the band were eager to play for the other Latin American countries, and they we not disappointed, they were all just as hardcore as Brazil, in fact the audiences were so loud at times that it was hard to hear the band over the sheer volume of the crowds chants.  In Argentina the crowd stopped the show for several minutes while they chanted a modified football song for Venom, leaving the band stood on stage in sheer disbelief, unable to continue until the crowd had finished singing, "an amazing experience and a fantastic honour" said Cronos, "the sheer volume and passion of those fans sent shivers down my spine, they were so happy to see Venom and had waited so long, that emotions were high, as the temperature rose and the fans sang along with every word, it was such a satisfying feeling to know how much these people appreciate what we do, I can't wait to return to this incredible country".

During a radio station interview in Brazil, Dante and Rage spoke about their time on the Latin tour and their thoughts on Venom's Latin Legions; "It is truly mind blowing touring in South America" said Dante, "I've played in this part of the world over the past few years with other bands, but I haven't experienced anything like a Venom crowd, I have never heard such loud audiences in all my life, the Legions here can sing louder than the bloody PA system, and these guys are so dedicated to Metal, the rest of the world should take note. This is my first tour with Venom and I'm hooked, apart from really enjoying the shows with Cronos and Rage, I really feel that what we are doing is something special, I've never been as fired up about playing as I have with this band, and I can't wait to start recording the new album".  Rage continued; "Our schedules have been very busy with all long flights between countries and no sleep, [ha] but we were lucky enough to still have a few meet-n-greets with the Legions, and they are the best, the most honest people with a true love for all things Metal.  I'm honoured to meet the fans and really appreciate that they have accepted me and Dante into the band, they speak from the heart and tell us of their joy to finally see Venom live in their country, the feeling is mutual, I can't wait to return to South America and play live for these very special people again".

By the start of 2010 Venom decided to officially recognise one of their many fan sites "The Venom Collector" as an official fan site. (
www.venomcollector.com ) Not only is this the longest running fan site, but the administrator 'Martin Bjorklund' has been a fan of Venom for longer than anyone.  His website has the most varied knowledge of Venom than any other, and a unique unbiased attitude to the band.

Martin was promoted to 'Legions Representative' and now works closely with the fans, helping to inform them about upcoming releases and concerts etc, plus he also handles all the mail, sending autographed photos of the band and other Venom paraphernalia to any fan who contacts him with requests.

Cronos commented: "There are unfortunately one or two so called 'old' fans who try to dictate to other fans about what it is to be a Legion, which is a bigoted and pathetic attitude. We jokingly call them the Black Metal police.  They have the arrogance to criticise other younger fans who haven't collected as many Venom albums as they have, which is totally obnoxious, I mean who do they think they are?  I would consider someone who has only one album as much of a fan as someone who has collected many.  To think you will get more respect from Venom for buying a bootleg is nonsense, for me the more dedicated fan is one who doesn't buy bootlegs and respects the official releases authorised by the band.  It is not a competition to see who can collect the most Venom stuff.  The saddest part is that most of the information on their websites is pure nonsense and lies, they spread bullshit instead of facts, which completely rubbishes their websites doing no good at all.  Our label were going to close them down, but after checking their web stats they saw that that they sadly only have two or three visitors per year, so they really aren't worth the time or effort".

As the year kicks off the bands management announced the first of their concerts for 2010.  Other virgin territories are now on the cards to witness the mighty Venom live for the very first time, starting with  Bulgaria in May then followed by Poland and Russia.

Other festival headline shows were confirmed for the Czech Republic, Sweden, Finland and Norway, plus a surprise show in Germany at the 'With Full Force Festival XVII', where the band played a very special concert for the Legions. This show was recorded for a DVD release and the band are now working on featuring footage from some of the others shows they played this year also, and maybe even some footage from their South American tour.

The band headed straight back into the studio on their return from their last show in Ukraine, headlining the 'Global East Festival' to continue work on their next album, which the band excitedly stated is "sounding killer and feeling great".

"The band are really fired up for the recording of the new album" revealed Cronos, "we've been concentrating most of our energy into the live shows since we first announced the current line up wit Rage and Dante, and the band have formed an amazing bond while touring live and are now so incredibly tight, it makes everything feel and sound so much heavier.  So now we are gonna put the same energy into the new album, it does however mean we won't be playing live as much in the coming year as its been difficult to keep jumping from touring to studio work, and I want everyone's concentration 100% on the new songs.

Venom took a break from recording in April 2011 to headline the 'SWR Barroselas Metalfest XIV' in Portugal, which is another territory the band had never played live.  The show was amazing, but after that the band headed straight back to the studio to continue recording.

 "We've got a lot of fantastic ideas for this next release", revealed Cronos in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, "we've all contributed to the writing of the songs as a group over several months, I prefer to let the songs mature so they find their true speed and feel etc, that way you get the best results.  We've been playing the songs in a live environment so we can add, subtract, tweak and change the songs to achieve their full potential, and I've noticed other bands opting for this method lately also, even Dave Grohl [singer of the Foo Fighters] has recorded his new album in his basement to get a real raw feel with a back to basics approach, and this is because everyone is getting very bored with samples and triggers etc, it's old hat now, were hearing the same old shit being poured out year after year from many bands who are all sounding the same, whereas what people really want is the true sound of a band, the individuality, the originality, like how a band sounds live, so the best way to do this is to put microphones on a real drum kit and record the real drum sound, duh? sounds obvious doesn't it, just throw away the samples and let's hear the real instruments.  This is the way we recorded the first albums, set up the equipment and play like a live show, all together in the same room, and without a doubt the album not only sounds a thousand times better, but it means the feel and intensity is raw and ferocious, I much prefer this by far.  I have always said there are no throw away songs on my albums, and that's because I always write more tracks than are needed so I can then choose the best ones for the album, and this album is no exception, all of the songs are being composed by all of the band members, so everyone feels part of the end result".

The new album entitled "Fallen Angels" is released in November 2011 with a staggering 15 songs on the album. The release receives incredible reviews from the media who hail the album as a return to form, with the magazine Metal Hammer streaming one of the tracks from their online website and Terrorizer featuring a track on the magazine cd release. Venom's Legions are also pleased to see a large number of the new songs feature in the upcoming shows live set.

Plans for a promo video of one of the songs from the new album came to an  abrupt halt, with the strange disappearance of the video's director.  Rumours started that he'd been taken to hospital with a suspected heart attack, and then he'd been sectioned in an asylum, although he then vanished, with close friends and family not knowing where?  He was also rumoured to be involved with some other bands albums and videos, although they have also had no news of his whereabouts. Who knows? Maybe he decided to walk to Cairo instead of taking the train, or maybe he flew over the cuckoo's nest.

Venom quickly backed up the new albums release with a Live show in Bucharest / Romania by headlining the 'Rock In Concert Festival' on 12 November, then headed off to Lichtenfels in Germany to headline the 'Christmas Metal Fest' at the Stadthalle on 26 November.  The band were eager to play live again after recording the new album, and to play the new album songs live for their Legions.

2012 starts with a bang as the band hit the ground running, they appear live on the cruise ship festival 70,000 Ton Of Metal, which sailed from Miami to the Cayman Isles and back and saw Venom playing two live sets on the journey.  The first set, on the way to the Caymans took place in the ships theatre, and saw the band laying down the law with a classic Venom set, then in a totally unprecedented move, the bands second live set saw them playing on the open pool deck, complete with 100mph winds, and in a more casual approach, the band dressed in black leather trousers and shirts, and unleashed their alternative set featuring some never before played live tracks, [as well as others which haven't been in a live set in over 20 years] such as: 'Teachers Pet' and 'Heavens on Fire' to name a few.

Check out the Venom You Tube website for lots of live footage from various shows, plus some fan shot videos from the cruise.
< http://www.youtube.com/venom >

Disaster struck in April as their planned South American invasion is cancelled at the eleventh hour, this was due to the promoter breaching the contract and failing to obtain work visas for the band and crew, the entire organisation was a complete mess and was also reported on Brazilian news channels. This not only affected Venom but many many other bands who were also forced to cancel their shows. A truly sad time for Latin Metal Music Fans.

In a message to the fans Cronos announced; "We don't want people to think we will never return to South America just because of this disaster, we just hope the promoters can learn from their mistakes and do a better job next time. We are in talks with our management and label about our future plans for touring in South America, and we hope to be able to work out new touring plans soon.

In July Venom unleash their new live set list entitled: 'Black Angles', [with songs mainly from the Black Metal & Fallen Angels albums] playing at the 'Getaway Festival' in Sweden and headlining the 'Bang Your Head Festival' in Germany, the band then headed off to Canada in September to headline the 'Noctis V Festival' in Calgary, a special show for both Venom and their fans as this is Venom's first Canadian show in 27 years, as their last appearance was during their 'Possession Tour' in 1985 with Slayer supporting.

The band headed back to the UK and hit the studio to continue writing for their next album; "we started coming up with new song ideas for the next album as soon as we'd finished the last album" explained Rage, "its a continual process really, there's no start or finish, we just  come up with new ideas all the time, its the way we work together. We want to keep the same approach as the last album, with all three members writing and rehearsing the songs in a live environment, and we want to keep the same raw and powerful dynamics, although expect a few surprises as usual".

The label [UMG / Spinefarm Records] have set a release date of 2014.

Early 2013 and the management announce news of upcoming concerts for the year, starting with a headline show in the USA in May at the 'Maryland Deathfest XI' in Baltimore, which will be the bands first show in the America since their 'Commandments Tour' in 2006.  The band then returned to Finland to headline the 'Hammer Open Air Festival' in July, and then in August the Legions were treated t an explosive headline show at Germany's 'Party.San Metal Open Air Festival', featuring a one-off 'old-school' live set of old classics, plus a show at the 'Leyendas del Rock Festival VIII' near Alicante in Spain. Then there's a headline show at 'Masters @ Rock Festival' in Belgium on 31 August.

The 20th Relentless Kerrang! Awards 2013 was held on 13 June. Cronos was presented with the Icon Award for Venom.  Other award winners at the event were Kerry King of Slayer, Phil Anselmo of Pantera / Down, Brian May & Roger Taylor of Queen, and many others.

Venom continue work on their new album throughout the early months of 2014, planning a release schedule for either the fall of 2014 or the start of 2015 - to be confirmed.   The management announce the start of the bands live shows, with Venom appearing at the 9th edition of the 'Amnesia Rockfest' near Montreal, Canada's largest Metal festival which attracted a massive 200,000 people this year, hell f'kin yeah !!!.  As the Venom show was going so well, Cronos decided to try out a normally unthinkable idea, and that was to ask the crowd to join in with a new song they had ever heard before. [what?] Cronos explained to the crowd that he wanted to record the Legions so he could include them on the new album.  Cronos told us; "I must admit, I had every faith in the Legions, they never let me down.  I basically explained that we would play a new song, and I told them which parts I wanted them to join in, its is only one word 'RISE', and if they could shout loud enough I'd include them on the new album.  It couldn't have gone any better, they hit every cue and were the loudest I've heard a crowd in many years.  So now its back to the studio to upload the recordings to the new album mix".

Venom then set off around Europe playing an explosive headline show at the 'Brutal Assault Festival' in the Czech Republic on 6th August, and then onto the 'Faust Extreme Festival V' in Pisa Italy on the 9th August, and then an exciting headline appearance at a brand new French festival event called 'Fall Of Summer Festival', which is near Paris and takes place on 5th September 2014.

The German Metal Hammer Awards 2014 was held in Berlin on Friday 12 September. Cronos was presented with the Legend Award.

Venom's Management have been in talks with various agents and promoters in South America over the last couple of years, as Venom are determined to return for their Latin Legions. Crucial lessons were learned from the disastrous 2012 shows which also affected other bands, but now Venom are so glad to announce they will be playing a number of exclusive shows before the end of 2014, starting with:

Colombia on 12 October 2014 @ Manizales Grita Rock Festival, then onto Mexico on 25 October 2014 @ the Hell & Heaven Festival.  Check out the 'Concerts Page' for exact dates and details.

2015 starts with the fantastic news of the release of Venom's new album: 'From The Very Depths', which is released on January 26th.  The label send out promotional copies to the worlds media who mostly rave about the albums heavy raw sound, and classic track titles such as: 'Long Haired Punks' and 'The Death Of Rock n' Roll'. The label decide to release 3 songs on video online, to further excite the Legions, starting with a lyric video of: 'Long Haired Punks, then 'Grinding Teeth', and followed by 'Smoke'.

"The Show Must Go On"

To coincide with the release of the new album, the band return to the
'70,000 Tons Of Metal' 2015 cruise festival, ready to play a world premiere concert of their entire new album.

Although disaster struck as the band landed at Miami International Airport, only one day before the cruise set sail. They were informed that British Airways & American Airlines had not put the bands guitars and equipment on the plane. Venom's management went into overdrive, contacting the airlines to make sure the bands equipment was put on the next flight so everything arrived at the cruise port in time, and even though promises and guarantees were made.... sheer bloody incompetence and ignorance by the airlines led to the ship sailing the following day without any of the bands gear.

As the news of Venom's situation spread around the ship, many bands offered whatever equipment was needed.  The generosity of the musicians on the cruise was amazing, the show must go on, and its a great sign when everyone rally's to help like that, and Venom can't thank everyone enough for being so genuine and generous, hell yeah.

Dante comments: "It's truly amazing to see how much respect other musicians have for Venom, they were so genuine in their generosity. We walked on board the ship thinking 'what the hell are we going to do without our gear' and then as the word spread about our predicament, just about every musician on the cruise started approaching us saying: 'if Venom need any equipment, take ours, you guys can use whatever gear you need'. Wow, absolutely fantastic".  Venom eventually decided to use the instruments offered by the band: Arch Enemy.

Now Venom were able to play their shows as planned, which included a Venom first, playing every song from their new album: 'From The Very Depths', [in the same running order track by track]. They also played a second set of classic songs from their extensive back catalogue, plus each member took part individually in: 'The Jeff Water's Jam', where various musicians from a range of bands on the cruise, got together to form a series of mega-groups, playing a selection of classic metal tracks live onstage.  Most of the musicians had never even met before, although they proceeded to go onstage and play together [all unrehearsed] for the first time to the delight of the packed auditorium.  All of the sets were greatly received and an amazing unique experience was had by all.

~ Footage of the Jam Sessions can be seen on You Tube ~

As a special event for the fans on the cruise, Venom decided to hold a free lottery during a meet n' greet session, so some lucky fans could win a free promotional copy of the new Venom album.  The cruise started on 22 January, although the Venom album was officially released worldwide on the last day of the cruise, the 26 January 2015.  So the band asked the label to make a limited number of promos for the cruise.

The 2015 concerts continue on 22 May with a headline show with full stage show at: 'Rockhard' festival in Germany. Then a show in Holland at the 'Fortarock' festival on 6 June, a show Venom are eager to play considering its been almost 15 years since their last Dutch show.  Next it's off to Norway to destroy the: 'Tons Of Rock' festival on 19 June. The fans are able to select the songs for this concert making a bespoke set list via the festival website.  The following day Venom will be in France for a show at: 'Hellfest' on 20 June.  Venom last played at Hellfest in 2008.

As a special event for the Legions, Venom gave their fans the opportunity to choose Venom's Live Set List for the show at the: 'Tons Of Rock' festival. In partnership with Metal Hammer magazine, the fans voted via the website for the songs they wished to hear from a list of 28 Venom tracks.  The response was absolutely amazing with a selection of both old and new songs, the show was truly fantastic.

On 25 July Venom appeared at: 'Rockfest Barcelona' in Spain.  The band are very eager to return to Spain after their amazing show at 'Leyendas del Rock' in 2013 where they played their first ever Spanish show.  On 8 August Venom played at the: 'Vagos Open Air' festival in Portugal, the Portuguese Legions are always hardcore and came out in force to support Venom.  The mayhem then ensued as a cancelled flight meant the band and crew had a crazy journey to Belgium, and even with a 14 hour delay, the Venom crew and festival staff managed to make sure Venom hit the stage on time at the: 'Alcatraz Festival' on 9 August with some great new pyrotechnic effects and monstrous flame jets. On 15 August Venom went on to headline their second show in Germany this year, and again play with their stage show and pyrotechnics at this years: 'Summer Breeze' festival, a great anniversary show for Rage being his 50th show with Venom, hell yeah.

2015 is a special year for Venom for another reason, because the line up Cronos, Rage and Dante is now  officially the longest running line up of Venom ever, making this the Epic Venom. Journalists and fans have already been referring to them as the new classic line up, something unheard of before with other bands.

In a recent interview with the band, they were asked what is the secret of this line ups success and how have they managed to keep it together for so long when other line ups failed, and their replies were:

Cronos: "Anyone who has followed Venom through the years will know that I have never stopped looking for the right musicians for Venom, and at times I thought I'd never find the right people, but I really hope this is now the final line up so we can concentrate on progressing. I know great things can come from hard work, so I've dedicated a lot of time and effort into making every move count, writing killers songs and playing fantastic shows is my main aim, I've learnt a lot from past issues and won't make the same mistakes again, this line up are here to stay and I believe were just getting started, we concentrate on where this band is going in the future, and its all the way, foot down, Pedal to the Metal".

Rage: "the support of Venom's Legions is a big factor in making this band great, and we so we concentrate on the business of making great music, I mean who wouldn't want to be in a great band like Venom? We have so many ideas in the pipeline, and have many more years ahead, we've made this a way of life and not just a job, its the greatest venture I've ever been involved with, horns up".

Dante: "we gel so well as a band and also as people, so the music feels so natural to us. There's a natural enthusiasm when were in the studio or on stage, and we don't let petty squabbles get in the way of our mission to make Venom great.  We rehearse every week because we enjoy it, simple as that, we sometimes just jam, playing whatever comes to us with no real agenda, its great fun and really relaxing when you can let the music flow in its own direction and vibe, and we often get new ideas for new songs, which I believe is the most important thing is writing great songs.  Plus we want to make sure the people who follow this band, 'The Legions', will be proud to be a fan, and we will never lose perspective of that fact, its the fans who keep band going with their support, and the Legions are the greatest support any band could wish for".

In the autumn Venom played their only 2015 American date at the 'Fun Fun Fun' festival in Texas. This was the events 10th year and the Venom show was truly amazing. Texas was one of the few remaining states that Venom had never performed live, so the Metal Texas Legions were anticipating nothing short of greatness, and by the killer reviews that soon followed, everyone was more than satisfied with the incredible performance by the Black Metal Godz.  The wait was worth it, but now they want more.

Venom are set to headline the 'Festival del Diablo' in Bogotá Colombia on 28 November, and the Latin Legions are delighted as this will be the only South American show in 2015.

Then to end the year on a high, Venom also headlined the 'Black Xmas' festival in Sweden.

2016 is already shaping up to be another great year for Venom, with work already started in the studio on their next album, the amazing news was announced at the end of January that Venom's latest album 'From The Very Depths' has won "Album Of The Year" and the band are to receive an award.  The mighty Legions voted for their favourite album on the 'Aebyss Portal' [ www.facebook.com/TheAebyssPortal/ ] throughout the year for each month of 2015, and Venom beat all other bands such as Iron Maiden and Slayer etc.
[ links and photos etc on this coming soon ]

New show announcements are already underway;  A return to the the USA in May and another headline show at the 'Maryland Deathfest' in Baltimore.  The Promoter is a hardcore music fan who wants everyone at the festival to have a great time and also get value for money.  Venom last headlined this festival in 2013 although there were a few issues with bands running late, and as Baltimore has a strict curfew rule the power was cut during the Venom song 'Warhead', before the end of the bands set.  The festival had worried as the fans were getting a bit angry, but they were respectful to understand there was nothing that could be done.  So the promoter has asked Venom to return again in 2016, which the band are always pleased to accept, playing again for their Stateside Legions in what could be their only US Show for 2016.

May 2016 was quite special for Venom in another way, as the new X-Men Apocalypse movie featured the sound track of their classic song; 'Countess Bathory', indeed :)

Venom's management announced other European festivals, such as a Spanish show at 'Primavera Sound Festival' on 4 June 2016, which is one of the biggest festivals in Europe with an estimated 200 thousand strong audience.

A new territory was also announced as Venom headed for a show in Lithuania [The Baltic States], where they headlined the 'Kilkim Zaibu' festival in Varniai on 25 June 2016. The band unleashed a firestorm of effects with their full pyro show, as they promised to go in all guns blazing with a truly explosive show, the festival crafted a huge Wicker Man for the event which they set alight as Venom entered the stage, a truly magical event..

The summer brought the fantastic news of a highly anticipated UK show for Venom, at the 'Bloodstock Open Air' festival on 12 August 2016, which is 10 years since Venom's last UK show. The band entered the stage as the setting sun positioned itself directly onto the mid stage, blinding the band members throughout their set, but never the less, Venom delivered an amazing show to a welcoming crowd, followed by an hour long meet n' greet session of endless Legions, all wanting to greet the band and lay down their souls.

Venom's
popularity in Spain continues to grow with their second show of the year, at the 'Leyendas del Rock Festival' near Alicante on 13 August 2016. This is Venom's second appearance at this event, and with all of their pyro licenses in place, Venom were able to light up the night skies with a truly fantastic show for the Spanish Legions.

Venom head back into the studio to continue writing / recording the new songs for their next album, although the band have now suggested releasing a 3 track EP early next year, [spring 2017] ahead of the new album release.  So keep an eye on the news page for more information.

News of Venom's next concerts for 2017 have already began to surface, with Sweden Rock Festival announcing that Venom will be headlining the main Sweden Stage on: Saturday 10 June 2017.

.................... more updates to follow soon .....................


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See Venom's Concerts Page for Updates & Info >

Lay Down Your Souls !

 

Hell fucking Yeah !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!