Hailed as an act who do 21st-century death metal better than pretty much every new band out there by this very magazine, Venom Prison have captured the hearts and minds of many fans of extreme music since first bursting onto the scene in 2015. Led by the increasingly iconic Larissa Stupar, last year’s Samsara saw the Anglo-Russian quintet deftly side-stepping those difficult second-album jitters by delivering an opus that not only lived up to the considerable hype but gave a gleeful sonic two-fingered salute to the doubters too.
Primeval now sees the trailblazers return to their roots and features re-recordings of early EPs, Defy The Tyrant and The Primal Chaos, plus two newly minted cuts. While polishing up previous past glories has often been a risky move for some acts and could be viewed as a step back, for Venom Prison it’s another stride forward. The material has been sharpened up considerably after spending the guts of half a decade shedding blood, sweat and tears on the road and these bulldozing 2020 versions could level Mount Olympus itself.
Babylon The Whore in particular really benefits from the re-recording treatment and sounds even more bludgeoning. Larissa’s voice is monstrous on this righteous slab of sound and fury as she roars lines like ‘I am vengeance for countless rapes and murders’. Defy The Tyrant is another standout and this early track, which set the blueprint for their hardcore-spiced brand of politicised death metal, sounds just as fresh and vital now as it did in 2015.
Saving the best ’til last, bullish new cuts Defiant To The Will Of God and Slayer Of Holofernes – both of which are emboldened by some clean vocals – reaffirm that while Venom Prison’s past is exhilarating, their future looks like it will be even more exciting.