Venom Prison-Erebos album. FFO: Incredible, Intelligent but Acidic and Cathartic Death Metal/Metallic Hardcore.


Venom Prison-Erebos album. FFO: Incredible, Intelligent but Acidic and Cathartic Death Metal/Metallic Hardcore.

This is a band that truly has and is evolving with each release. Now, this is not in a turning mainstream or jumping on a trend that is so hot right now style. This band drips aggression, vitriol and fierceness that frankly rips layers off any competition. Erebos is their third full-length release and whilst there is no massive overall stylistic change, each of their albums slightly hints at the greatness of the next release. But the twists and turns of this barbaric release floored me as a fan who has loved each of their releases. Each track has components of change that lift them above their contemporaries and this album is unique and remarkable because each element adds value to the individual compositions and the album as a whole. And the sheer weight of that is monstrous, oppressive and refreshing as hell. 

Let's consider the layers of this album; in particular the music/riffs, the vocals and the lyrics/themes and then some fave tracks of this release.

Venom Prison have always sat between many genres; in particular Death Metal, Hardcore and probably Deathcore/Metalcore. The foundation is extreme metal, but on Erebos, we have more variation than previously and oh lordly does this add some colour to the overall sound. And all in a positive way because the added depth and tone makes every track jump out at you. I cannot agree with the whole adding melody and harmony dilutes the sound in a Spiritbox/Jinjer/Arch Enemy fashion; these cheapshots are lame and inaccurate. Besides VP has always been a much deeper band than those bands. This album quite simply has a beautiful balance between melody and aggression, and everything is purposefully structured to exhibit the sheer power of this band. The dominating drums and bass seem more vigorous, clobbering yet sonorous. And it's not like this band ever put out nice and calm tracks, but this album is almost a glimmer of where this band can go.  It can throw you into the rocky ravages of the ocean with tsunami-like waves, but this album proves the space in between the chaos/aggression highlights the wide-ranging skills of this band. And this band has only been kicking around for seven years and their catalogue is incredible given this short length of time. But the dual guitar magic or wizardry on this release is beyond belief. The riffs can be atmospheric, crushing, melodic or haunting. You cannot pigeonhole it and it's as nasty and as tech as Carcass, Bolt Thrower or as primitive as Doom or Extreme Noise Terror. Also, the clear influence of straight-up metalcore or deathcore is also impressive; but also there are definitely some hints of prog and melodic death between the intelligent layers. The layers of mood that Ash and Ben create really compliment everything Larissa does vocally and exactly the same with the bass and drums; but can also oppose it. And that psychotic intelligence keeps every track fresh and no one else is doing music like this, like even remotely. And also the guitar work is shreddy, gnarly and just heavy as fuck. And when the lads wig out on their guitars it is less about cheesy riffs and more about hell-spawned impact. So it ticks so many boxes for this writer and frankly is a masterpiece for extreme metal. Plus the slight addition of synth and associated muses also added excellent atmosphere across the album.

Larissa is quite simply one of the best extreme music vocalists around at the moment. And Erebos also shows she can get melodic and change up the tone, tempo and style, whilst not dipping into trends or mainstream edginess. You can see she is a huge fan of multiple genres and has exceptional skills/range because the vocals can be a) brutally savage or devastating or b) melodic with perfect placement and effect (think back to the finest thrash/death metal releases of the 90's prime period and these factors add to the overall aggression in creating a classic album) and in summary she utterly uses her vocals as an instrument of focus and pulverizing skill. And she has always done this, but this release shows just how many bags of tricks she has in her artillery. She very clearly exhibits across this release; smooth transitions between Death Metal, Post Hardcore and Metalcore, but there is also some Black Metal leanings as well as Thrash Metal vocal finesse. Clean vocals whilst not a huge feature of the album; are epic, and balance so well with the huge progression of the entire band.

Venom Prison has always been topical, but throw in some isolation related bunker-like chaos as a result of a suffocating pandemic and that like many of us, we were forced to look at all our demons etc. So the themes are broad, but as confronting as lyrics should be. We may all like throwing on a death metal classic that is lyrically and musically massively ignorant, but my preference is always decent lyrics. Erebos touches on mental health, narcissistic abusers, PTSD, reproductive control, grief and loss, incarceration and the justice system, immigration, media control; so yes the band refuse to lay down and throw lyrics in for shits and giggles. And not only are the lyrics personal, thoughtful, but they like so much of the musicianship fits together like a glove. Whilst the guitars and bass may forcefully drive the song in a certain direction, however, on so many occasions it is the vocals and shrewd utilisation of the lyrics(and how they are delivered) that annihilate you; one example is the momentous vocal warfare from 2:49 min on Pain of Oizys-like it slays the listener every single time. Not only is the lyric content intelligent and addresses relevant issues, but they add so much to the sheer slaughtering effect of this frenzied release.

Some Fave Tracks:
This album has so many noteworthy tracks it is definitely hard to pick current favourites and like all great albums and wines; this develops with time and each listen gives more flavour. In fact, this review was delayed as I felt I needed more time to let its scope sink in. Now singles are not always a band's finest works, however, the three singles Judges of the Underworld, Pain of Oizys and Nemesis are easily the albums sharpest tracks of this album (and also some of their best tracks period.)
All three tracks are abrasive, catchy and cerebral. Plus are huge raging beasts of tracks with staggering vocal and guitarwork. These singles are all categorically excellent, but certain other tracks unquestionably surprised me in different ways. And this point of difference separates Erebos from the band's previous albums. The band seemed to have pushed themselves harder and the astronomical progression is very significant. The core foundations absolutely remain, but the musical shift or layering is gigantic. Focused aggression combined with newer atmospheric elements is apparent, but look at a few key examples: Technologies of Death(my fave track on this album by a mile) is a track that storms along with black metalesque vocals that are so ferocious and bloodthirsty, but has brilliantly evil guitar riffs that drift between berserk and melodic, that also has insane placed synth and the tempo changes were riotous and hefty, but what a way to end an album with so many genres represented in a clear manner; but an absolute brutish classic track. Golden Apples of Hesperides is a track that divides many listeners, but not this writer. This has a perfect buildup through the intro and literally throws the kitchen sink of aggression of you with their killer combo of intelligent lyrics and crazed guitar and vocal performances. Those weighty riffs on this track were just inhumanly great. Comfort of Complicity was another riff dominated track and I love those opening riffs which reminded me heaps of another UK band progressing massively Malevolence. This track marches into war constantly and this song is designed for most impact live, without a doubt and this is evidenced by the epic ending that deserves massive crowd singing post insane sonic violence from the majority of the track. If you love Carcass combined with some of the most horrific lyrics(no not in early Carcass way, trust me but haunting in a realistic way) then Gorgon Sisters will rip you a new one, so nasty and so antagonistic manner. 
The other tracks are as solid, but these are the ones that stand out to me as I write this, but this changes daily. The other track I will speak about is Veil of Night, certainly, a track initially had too much of everything in a single song on the first listen. But whilst it isn't an album highlight, it like so many songs on this release opens up over time and the vast possibilities where this act can go are huge although I cannot see this band ever diluting their style of music; the anticipation for the next album is already there. 
Venom Prison unlike so many of their extreme music comrades has depth, skill and potential to go tangential and stretch their craft to the limits. Erebos is a glorious celebration of all this and more. It shows respect and shared influence of many musical peers and greats, but most importantly they add nasty originality, tone and atmosphere that makes this an absolute classic album.

Album is out now:

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