Death metal is in a really exciting place right now; for every band re-treading the sounds of yesteryear - which there’s nothing wrong with - there’s another seeing where they can expand the sonic palette, iterating again and again on the formula. Venom Prison fall squarely into the latter category and despite having been a band for just over half a decade they are already firmly established in the collection of many a death metal aficionado.
First album Animus set out their stall, lyrics tackling subjects from misogyny and rape culture to organised religion all set to a blistering aural assault and second album Samsara only dialled up the intensity further while expanding their sound yet again without losing their trademark intensity. Come 2020 the band have chosen to revisit their earlier EPs, Defy The Tyrant and The Primal Chaos, re-recording nine and penning two new songs to create Primeval, their upcoming release on Prosthetic Records.
The re-recordings from their EPs have lost nothing of their original allure; the production has taken a step up but they sound as vicious and vital as ever. Larissa Stupar (vocals) sounds truly monstrous, her rabid growls and snarls lending an animalistic rage to the already pummelling compositions. Revisiting the older material also serves to underscore just how far the band have come in such a short time; many bands don’t release retrospectives or re-record demos for a considerably longer period of their career - if ever. Just a few years removed from their original release, Venom Prison have already evolved into something truly special and to hear where it all started with the production values of today is a treat in itself.
Not content only to revisit their earlier days, Venom Prison also penned two brand new tracks to showcase what’s next - ‘Defiant to the Will of God’ and ‘Slayer of Holofernes’. As soon as ‘Defiant…’ opens it’s clear just how much has changed while retaining their intensity and raw aggression. Blackened melodic leads underscore Larissa’s roar of the title and riffs courtesy of Ash Gray and Ben Thomas switch from disorienting and off-kilter to full throttle neck snappers. Contrasting melody and dissonance and switching speeds so effortlessly has become a hallmark of their sound and thrust them to the fore of modern death metal. ‘Slayer of Holofernes’ plays with some more melodic vocals with some almost Cattle Decapitation-esque moments akin to their grimy, unsettling approach to melodicism.
Primeval is a rare beast in coming such a short way into their career; with the re-recordings showing exactly why Venom Prison are such a lauded band and have come so far and the new material promises much, much more to come from them. With the world on hold it feels natural now to both take stock of what was, and what’s to come. Primeval achieves that and more, proving just why Venom Prison are one of the most important, and best, bands in metal right now.
Primeval is released October 9th via Prosthetic Records. Pre-order the album here.