Venom Prison talk cathartic new single Pain Of Oizys: "We don’t want to be put in a box as just a death metal band"

Venom Prison 2021
(Image credit: Andy Ford)

UK rising stars Venom Prison have unveiled their most stylistically adventurous song to date with Pain Of Oizys, the second single taken from their upcoming third full-length album Erebos

Dispensing with the visceral death metal brutality that has been the band's bread-and-butter to date, Pain Of Oizys incorporates a sense of ambience and emotional gravitas not a million miles removed from the atmospherics of post-hardcore. Indicative of the enormous stylistic shifts the band have promised for album #3 (with 2020's Primeval being a re-recording of the band's first demo and EP, albeit with two additional tracks that hinted towards their sonic development). 

Fans of Venom Prison's sheer forceful power needn't worry too much however; the track still boasts a white-hot fury in its breakout moments, transposing minimalism and piano keys against triumphant, crashing passages that suggest a shift towards melodic death metal territory.  

Hammer caught up with vocalist Larissa Stupar to dive into the meaning behind the track and what it represents for the future of the UK's most exciting (formerly?) death metal group.

"Pain of Oizys is about coming to terms with both my depression and my PTSD, learning to live with it as part of who I am instead of letting it drag me down to the darkest places," vocalist Larissa Stupar explains. "It's about respecting that I want to live with it, instead of not wanting to live at all. It's about catharsis; about feeling empowered in who you are instead of looking to find yourself as somebody different. If you can stay strong, you can survive anything.”

Watch the video below

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Even with the hints of melody on Slayer Of Holofernes, this new song is a huge stylistic departure for Venom Prison. What does it represent for you and the direction you're taking?

"For us, it’s a chance to be reborn in so many ways. The fact we were able to get the album produced in a way that you can hear everything so clearly, it was a massive step forward for us. It’s a way of us saying ‘we’re capable of these things’ and we’re proud people can see that now, with a lot of it being born from the chaos of the state of the world.”

What inspired the shift?

“We’ve never wanted every record to sound the same. It's important for us to show our progress as a band and we thought this was the best way to showcase that, especially because we can get creative in so many different ways. Ben [Thomas, guitar] went to music school and can play a variety of instruments, so we wanted to show a bit of what he could do more than we had in the past. We don’t want to be put in a box as just a death metal band.”

Are there any reservations about having a song so stylistically different in terms of how fans might react?

“None! We’re proud that it's come out the way it has, showing there is a different side to us beyond just being heavy and brutal, which is full emotion and beauty.”

Musically it conjures up this image of an ocean, or some massive body of water where you’re floating just above the surface – is that the effect you were going for?

“It's funny you say that! When Ben and Ash [Gray, guitars] were listening back to what they had written, they put on videos of ships going through huge storms. That’s how they felt about the song’s mood and when I recorded my vocals I did the same thing. You can kind of hear it in the song – especially with the line ‘I find peace in the roughest sea’. Pain Of Oizys means so much to all of us though – it's personal to me, to Ben, to Ash and it's been so amazing writing it together." 

Were there any challenges in focusing on clean vocals after almost exclusively screaming for so many years?

"Well, I don’t really see myself as someone who is a strong singer, especially when it comes to clean vocals. I used to be in choirs when I was a kid, but beyond that I’ve not done much clean singing. It was out of my comfort zone – pretty far from it, to be honest! But to me being able to connect those lyrics with the way I was singing and feeling was really important and at one point I felt like I needed to break down and cry, so the guys stopped recording and came in to give me a hug. The next take we stared all over again and it felt so accomplishing to slowly familiarise myself with something I’m not comfortable with.”

What is the title in reference to? 

“Oizys is a Greek mythological figure, the goddess of pain, sorrow and misery. The title was very fitting – the whole album is based around Greek mythology and the ways it reflects today’s society. We’ve always tried to have some kind of story running through our records and using religion or mythology tends to be an amazing way to do it – especially working with something that has been around for such a long time and has meant something to people thousands of years ago.”

What’s the story with the music video?

“The video was made by Thomas Coe-Brooker again and he wanted to portray the story we’ve just discussed as it fits into the album. He wanted the impact of the sea, so went out and filmed it with his wife. On our end, we wanted to show that sometimes despair can lead to something powerful and this is what you can see in the video: your inner-demons leading you somewhere, but instead of finding misery you find empowerment.”

Erebos is due February 4 via Century Media

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.