In the world of extreme metal, it is no longer good enough to simply go faster or harder than everyone else. We have (to steal a phrase) been there, done that and bought the t-shirt. To be truly distinguished requires a level of focus, innovation and forensic aural blood-letting.
Venom Prison have this by the bucketload. Now basing themselves out of South Wales, Animus (Prosthetic Records) is the full-length début album from a band that could end up soundtracking the apocalypse, should the apocalypse require a soundtrack. This is a horrible, nasty, dirty, claustrophobic record that gives no quarter and takes absolutely no prisoners.
Against a backdrop of hyper drumming and razor-sharp riffing, Animus is not just a corrosive racket of a record (it is, of course, this), it is the sound of bilious and often righteous anger at a whole host of topics from impending doom, through chaos, war and all the compass points in between. At one level this is straight-forward death metal with tinges of metalcore and grindcore thrown in for good measure, but don’t take this as an indication that these are just another death metal band making up the numbers. On the contrary, talent abounds.Given the band’s heritage in such underground causes such as Brutality Will Prevail, Wolf Down and Desolated , you might have a level of decent expectation. However, Animus delivers much more.
As a collective exercise in aural punishment it is arrestingly violent and fairly, if not comprehensively, remorseless. If extreme metal is your thing, then this is absolutely right up your strasse. Whilst all of the band members make a telling and resonant contribution to the album’s success, it would be disingenuous not to mention the extraordinary and terrifying vocals of Larissa Stupefar who could curdle Satan’s blood; her performance sets this record apart from the also rans and never-will-bes of what can be an often crowded marketplace.
With Animus, Venom Prison have been able to fashion a vicious and often startling album that showcases their influences and talents and isn’t afraid to take risks. Not everything works perfectly: some of the ingredients they have thrown in can jar and need a level of refining to be truly transformative but they deserve credit and applause for having the nerve and chutzpah for trying these things in the first place. When things do work though, Animus reveals itself to be a quite startling and riveting début record.