2015 proved to be a productive year for the Russian/Welsh act, Venom Prison when they released not one, but two EPs. Their ambition has continued to grow since then by deftly demonstrating the cunning and extreme of their Modern Death Metal sound. This budding band made noticeable waves in the scene when they released their second full-length, Samsara (Prosthetic Records) last year. Vocalist Larissa Stupar presented this rare rage that she and the whole band developed into a massive, contagious fury. Now, these guys are ready to exhibit how much they’ve grown in the last five years. Primeval (Prosthetic Records) is a compilation of their first two Eps re-recorded and reinvigorated.
Something is stirring on the fetid island of Great Britain at the moment as rearing their ugly heads is a new breed worshipping the deathly hallows. One of the emerging hydra-heads are South Wales outfit Venom Prison, a band who made their mark on Temples Festival earlier in 2015 and have followed it up in some style, with their début EP The Primal Chaos (Soaked In Torment).
A noisy, aggressive fucker combining death metal (old and new) with elements of hardcore, with a powerful live feel that keeps the fists flailing while sluicing a “proper” death metal feel over the riffs that have origins in over 25 years of the sickest end of metal, from Scream Bloody Gore (Combat) to more contemporary death metal acts.
“Our intentions whilst writing this EP was to really push forward on a Death Metal vibe” begins guitarist Ash Gray. “It took a lot of binning songs that were written to get to the point the EP is at. It’s a new band, so finding our feet with our sound is very important to us at the moment, but I think we are heading in the right direction.”
Mixing modern death metal without the clickiness and sterility too many contemporary bands inflict on nauseated ears, and with a natural hardcore feel to it but without heading into breakdown overload territory, The Primal Chaos has a great feeling of balance to it. Gray is happy to acknowledge the main ingredients in the Venom Prison melting pot, pointing out “We aren’t interested in triggered drums that sound like machine guns. Don’t get me wrong, you can’t fault a rank slam band with hilarious snare and kick but that’s not what Venom Prison is about.
“Getting the balance for our songs is something that takes time. We didn’t fancy writing blast, beatdown, blast, beatdown, we wanted to make it a bit more legit and something that has character.” In the ultimate death metal vs hardcore streetfight, who wins out…? Glen Benton or Jamey Jasta? “I want to say Glen Benton, as Deicide and what he did in Vital Remains was sick but I’ve been into and going to hardcore shows for years, and Hatebreed got me into a lot of shit. I’m going with Jasta.”
“Venom Prison basically started with me and Larissa wanting to do a Death Metal band which is something different for both of us” continues Gray, quick to dismiss a past that includes his being in Brutality Will Prevail, a fact that, while an interesting footnote, is something he gives short shrift to. “(The) background to this band, I really think is irrelevant. Venom Prison is something that we wanted to start all over again and build up as a band, straight back to square one.”
After mentioning the bands break-out performance at Temples Festival, for a group that seemed quiet and polite, the onstage reality was a fervent blast of aggression and violence. So… where does that rage come from!? What happens when you enter the Venom Prison? “Everything that makes you mad, (you) just let it out when you play.”
And speaking of breakout, this calendar year has seen Venom Prison rise from unknowns to a band creating a buzz of anticipation around their next steps. “2015 has been pretty good to us” agrees Gray. “Shout out to John and Kaine from Soaked In Torment Records for wanting to put the seven-inch out and being a great help to the band.” So, what is next to escape the Venom Prison…?
“It’s time for an LP, which I can say is being worked on right now.”
WORDS BY STEVE TOVEY
Sat backstage at Temples Festival in May 2015 were five quiet, unassuming, polite young people, looking for all the world like competition winners nervously waiting in chairs to be shuffled through to meet Taylor Swift having been told to be on best behaviour by their Ma. Fast forward an hour and those five, quiet, unassuming, polite young people had transmogrified into a flailing, seething ten legged beast, spewing forth carnage and devastation. Not Tiamat, no, something far more deadly than that; they had become Venom Prison.
And so, with a buzz that began as a whisper now as incessant as a swarm of wasps inches from your eardrum, the cult of Venom Prison is set to enhance and further itself once more with the release of their debut EP, The Primal Chaos (Soaked In Torment); four tracks, twelve minutes that kick you in the groin and then taser you in the gut until defecation occurs.
The tasering occurs from the lashings of modern death metal wrought with hardcore sensibilities and feel, welded into a substantial spear of chugging attack, while the groinal devastation comes from a thick production that, unlike most present-day death metal sounds, allows room to breathe and spits a raw, live sound, a welcome change to the clinical, dry, overproduced and emotionless offal cuts that so many of today fart out; The Primal Chaos has just the right amount of sloppy to feel like the thump of a ten-ton hammer.
Larissa’s vocals are more scream than guttural, but that suits the urgency expounded by the South Wales quintet, and adds to the overall feel of a contemporary death metal meets metallic hardcore band dousing their offspring in the lighter fluid of the old school 90’s underground before tossing a flaming rag at it and watching the primal chaos burn.