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Review: Venom - At War with Satan
At War with Satan

Label: Neat Records
Year released: 1984
Duration: 39:37
Tracks: 7
Genre: Speed Metal


Review online: April 7, 2021
Reviewed by: Luxi Lahtinen
Readers' Rating
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Rated 4.6/5 (92%) (15 Votes)

You know, I remember back when critics loathed Venom's first two albums, claiming that they were incompetent, noisy, and proved the band was entirely incapable of writing real songs or even playing their instruments. Seems the band took that to heart and responded with a defiant middle finger, because they went ahead and made their third album, At War with Satan, which proved that they were, in fact, a real band, and a damn great one at that.

Clearly wanting to waste no time at all, Venom just comes crashing out of the gate with the massive 20-minute title track. Rather than being 20 minutes of punky bashing like some might have expected, "At War with Satan" is a genuine epic with a startling amount of layers and depth, certainly enough to have all their critics choking on their own blood. This song is like a journey through hell itself, and it remains one of Venom's greatest and most diabolical works, certainly worthy of getting the album all by itself.

Thankfully, there are six more songs to follow it, and they're much closer to what you'd normally expect from Venom: punky, NWOBHM-laden Speed Metal that was played rawer and nastier than most of their contemporaries, as is to be expected from the band that laid the groundwork for Black Metal. These songs aren't much different from what you'd hear on their previous two albums, but that just makes room for songs like "Stand Up (and Be Counted)" and the silly album closer "Aaaaaaarrghh" to give us more of what we loved about the band to serve as a palette cleanser for the preceding ambitious epic.

Despite not being as influential as earlier releases, At War with Satan stands as an important album in Venom's history, as it shows the band pushing themselves to be more than a fun, evil band while still giving themselves room to be just that. Frankly, I think Cronos puts it best when he proclaims, "We are the black metal gods... V. E. N. O. Fucking M." I can't argue with that, and neither can you. Classic.

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