Venom: From the Very Depths

Black metal pioneers' latest trip to hell is a bit of a slog

Credit: Fin Costello

Black metal godfathers Venom left their glory days behind in the late 1980s, but founder Cronos' "never say die" attitude has lasted well into the 21st century. The band's 14th studio album shows them clinging to relevancy with grim resolve, and occasionally hitting the mark. It's a lukewarm return to hell, saddled with a bloated run time and plagued by missteps like the dismal chug of "Smoke" and "Mephistopheles." Venom fares much better when they ditch the nu-grooves and look backwards. When they launch back into thrashy, snotty speed metal on tongue-in-cheek romps like "Long Haired Punks" and "The Death of Rock'n'Roll," the past, momentarily, feels alive — and so does Venom's future.