Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Venom - Resurrection
(Music For Nations)

While Abaddon is off making like Tom Warrior and Apollyon Sun, Cronos and Mantas have persevered with the goodly Venom name. Always smarter than their recorded spoo, Venom have calculatingly placed, moreso than fallen into, a thrash presentation that soils the sound to the point where Mantas' trans-elegant (!) riffs sound like so much debris forlorn out back of the steel mill. Resurrection lets the man shine more prominently, the band making their cleanest, most note-dense album yet, even Cronos backing off the affectations until he sounds like a dedicated and reverent thrash vocalist who has heard a touch too much Venom. In other words, what we have here is a dark, entertaining, punk-dirty, firmly retro-fitting frash album, but something closer to a Destruction/Testament hybrid (or in general terms which also fit, a German/Bay Area hybrid) than the hapless and droll tomdroolery of Venom's golden shower pisstake years. Many who have wanted this should now rejoice. But can you go back and go forward at once? Can you be old school today and go back to a whole different classroom? Can we now go to recess? Anyway, enough wordplay, 'cos this is pretty good, Mantas being the key component, finding a riff-mad balance that has his playing complicated power chord sets, trickier than Motorhead but not so widdly as Coroner, captured with a powerful, dangerously electric guitar sound that brings just the right sense of alcohol to the perplexed proceedings.
Rating 8

Raise Hell - Not Dead Yet
(Nuclear Blast)

Loosening their nooses and letting the joculars hamhock forth in sexy swivels and beer swigs, Raise Hell have made a record that begs the retorical: "you've got to be joking." Once you realize that they aren't joking but perhaps are snickering at the question, your desire to party with them and their new ways suddenly feels to inhibition. It's a formula tapped and then slurped out the bottom of the barrel by Witchery, and now the newly tanked version of The Crown, and it is a formula highly welcome within metal's increasingly self-serious ranks. The grooves are smashed, the vocals loaded but sneering and leering, and the riffs are dirty metal magic like old Coroner or Kreator, each disembodied, leave-me-alone, teenage element meeting the other guy and then getting in the car for a hell-ride around the newly sodded football field. A mess inside and outside the car by night's end, maybe even a few regrets, but a couple years down the line into the safety of adult life, a fond memory in the making. Old school pre-school from the second stupider class past '99's too-cool new school.
Rating 8.5

Hard Reviews Page 3