A rapist being force-fed his genitals adorns the cover of Animus, the first full-length album from Venom Prison. You can probably tell from that sentence whether this album is for you or not.
If that doesn’t make up your mind for you, Larissa’s vocals on ‘Abysmal Agony’ will quickly let you know. Extreme metal singers often sound like they have spent their life gargling glass but there’s something about the way she opens this album that goes past that. She didn’t just gargle the glass, she swallowed it and then threw it up with her soul. If you can’t figure it out, that is a good thing.
I’m about to display my ignorance of extreme metal with some made up terms but ‘Celestial Patricide’ has what I describe as the Behemoth swirl (I did warn you). There’s that feeling that the music is whirling its way around you jabbing and attacking as you sit in the eye of the storm unable to quite grasp what you’re listening to but overawed by its power.
And yet underneath that relentless, fast-paced destruction, there is some real groove to this band. The smatterings of hardcore that run through their music give them a chug that – at least for non-extreme metal experts like myself – make them instantly more accessible. Tracks like ‘Corrode The Black Sun’ go from a riff heavy opening to full frontal assault before finishing delicately. It’s a whole spectrum of emotions rammed into four and a half minutes.
Which kind of sums up this entire album. At only thirty-three minutes long it takes it length more from its hardcore influences than its extreme metal ones. It’s never rushed, however. Tracks like ‘Immanetize Eschaton’ are deliberate in their composition, picking out the heaviness they wish to smash you round the face with.
If you didn’t guess the second I dropped the phrase Behemoth swirl as if it didn’t sound like some sort of fucked up Ben & Jerry’s flavour; extreme metal isn’t my play park. I adore bands like Behemoth but on the whole only occasionally find myself riding the swings when something particularly exciting is going on. Well, Animus is one of those time. Deathcore has got a bit of a bad rep over the years, generally due to the purveyors of it not understanding what hardcore is. If you want to see how those two genres can meld together and bring you something that rips your face off (but hopefully doesn’t feed it to you), then Venom Prison are the band for you.