Welcome Back: Venom

Venom might never have enjoyed the commercial success of their NWOBHM peers Iron Maiden and Def Leppard, but the influence of their early albums upon Metallica, Slayer and the entire black metal community is incalculable. With a 14th studio album (From The Very Depths) imminent and a rapidly filling calendar of live dates ahead, vocalist/bassist Cronos is bullish in his belief that his band’s best days are yet to come…

What was the gameplan going into From The Very Depths?

To make the best Venom album possible. I’m a musician: I want to challenge myself, I want to be scared, I want to feel alive, and you only get that from pushing forward. And this is the first time since the earliest days that I’ve managed to find bandmates who have the right mindset. A lot of people have joined this band for the wrong reasons, and it’s been fucking frustrating: some people thought joining Venom would make them famous overnight and get them a mansion in LA. They soon learned differently.

Like the Ramones, Venom must sell a lot of T-shirts. But it’s clearly important to you to still be a band, not just a brand.

Of course. It’s one thing having classic artwork and classic T-shirt designs, but the bands I admire are the ones who write fucking good songs and are a fucking good live act, and that’s what I’m striving for. I don’t want to be a parody of myself, just playing sets from 1984, not giving a monkey’s shit. The guys in the band now, [drummer] Dante and [guitarist] La Rage, have a healthy respect for the past, but they also want to put their own stamp on this.

The music industry is obsessed with nostalgia. Do you still get offers asking you to reunite the ‘classic’ line-up of the band?

Less and less. Which I’m happy about. We tried to re-form in 1995 and made an OK album and played some terrible gigs, so that’s the end of that. We’re different people now: the guitarist was wanting to play industrial guitar riffs, and the drummer wanted to do some techno, Marilyn Manson shit, and that’s not Venom. Occasionally I’ll hear people say: “I’ve been a fan since 1981 and this isn’t the real Venom.” And it’s like: mate, get real, you stopped being a Venom fan in 1985.

You’ve been picking up some Icon and Legend awards in recent years. Does it feel like Venom are finally getting some validation?

Well, I take more pleasure in hearing someone like Dave Grohl or Phil Anselmo tell me that Venom were an inspiration, but it’s nice to collect those awards. I used to think these ceremonies were just for industry wankers to lick each other’s balls.

So the plan now is for the band to premiere the new album on the next 70,000 Tons Of Metal cruise?

Yeah. We’ve never played a new album in its entirety so I think it’s going to be pretty special. We’ll do our usual ‘30 Years Of Venom’ set too, but we’re proud that the new album can stand alone. I want fans to put down their phones and their cameras and keep the experience as a one-off experience. The internet is great at sharing music, but let’s live in the moment for once.

From The Very Depths is out now via Spinefarm Records.

Paul Brannigan
Contributing Editor, Louder

A music writer since 1993, formerly Editor of Kerrang! and Planet Rock magazine (RIP), Paul Brannigan is a Contributing Editor to Louder. Having previously written books on Lemmy, Dave Grohl (the Sunday Times best-seller This Is A Call) and Metallica (Birth School Metallica Death, co-authored with Ian Winwood), his Eddie Van Halen biography (Eruption in the UK, Unchained in the US) emerged in 2021. He has written for Rolling Stone, Mojo and Q, hung out with Fugazi at Dischord House, flown on Ozzy Osbourne's private jet, played Angus Young's Gibson SG, and interviewed everyone from Aerosmith and Beastie Boys to Young Gods and ZZ Top. Born in the North of Ireland, Brannigan lives in North London and supports The Arsenal.