When we spoke to Cronos, leader of legendary NWOBHM trio Venom, he asserted his excitement at coming to Texas for the first time. On the very loud evidence of the band’s closing night headlining gig at Fun Fun Fun Fest, that was no puff of brimstone.
Beginning about five minutes late, the proto-black metal thrashers came out blasting with “Rise,” the closing anthem off latest LP From the Very Depths. Other tunes from Depths impressed equally, especially new standard “Long Haired Punks” and a blinding rip called “Grinding Teeth.”
All well and good, especially with an eager crowd ready to shout the chorus on the first number, but Venom knew what its fans wanted and handed it over with a devilish grin. The slash-and-burn “Die Hard,” from 1982 trailblazer Black Metal, and brutally forceful early single “Bloodlust” pumped up legions who’d waited over three decades to hear them live.
The midtempo sludge punk of “Buried Alive” and lighter-waving horror metal of “Countess Bathory” flew the old-school flag high, while the title ditty of debut Welcome to Hell frenzied the freaks further. The doom-mongering “Warhead” crushed, and set-closing statement of purpose “Black Metal” fostered call-and-response community the equal to any gospel show. Venom even earned that rarest of festival beasts: an encore.
First-album destroyers “In League With Satan” and “Witching Hour” underscored Venom’s rightful place in heavy metal history. “We will return!” proclaimed Cronos at the end, and given the Fun Fun Fun Festers’ response to this historic set, it can’t come soon enough.
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