What heavy metal fan could ever forget Venom? This is the band so deliciously horrible in musical talent and preposterously ridiculous in their Satanic content to have a whole genre, black metal, named after them and an album of the same name. Well, three members of the many incarnations of Venom have united for a new band, Mpire of Evil. The boys in the band are Mantas (Jeff Dunn), Antton (Antony Lant), and The Demolition Man (Tony Dolan).
To kick off their new adventure MoE, signed now to Italy's Scarlet Records (they're no dummies), submit an EP worth of tunes, Creatures of the Black. Fitting title, no? We have six songs here, four covers and two originals.
Above: Mpire of Evil looking, well, evil.
For the covers, MoE selected songs both familiar and influential: Exciter (Judas Priest), God Of Thunder (Kiss), Hell Ain't A Bad Place To Be (AC/DC), and Motorhead (you know who). All songs get a heavier, even coarser, interpretation than the originals. They're interesting, with Exciter being the most impressive, but seem rather an exercise in proving that MoE still have their heavy metal cred. Against the originals (read below), the musicianship on the covers is much more profound. Early reports on Venom questioned whether any member ever had any musical talent. These covers prove, generally, that indeed they did.
As for the originals, Reptile re-imagines a bit of the thrash, power, and even punk, metal that Venom attempted in those early days. Creatures Of The Black is a steady, heavy, and sometimes fast-paced blur of riffage and snarling vocals, and no guitar solo. That, in itself, is a singular disappointment considering the lively fret work in the cover songs.
Perhaps the best, and fundamental, element of Mpire of Evil's project is the totally raw and unadulterated 'feel' of the music. Creatures of the Black reminds you of what made early heavy metal both controversial and ambitious, pushing it simultaneously to the forefront and underground. MoE should receive generous kudos for simply resurrecting that pure 'true' metal sound.
But, ultimately, we need to hear more (a full-length album is expect in 2012, right before the apocalypse, I'm sure). Contrasting the covers with the originals, at this point, Mpire of Evil seems little more than a heavy metal cover band. Explore and enjoy at your convenience.
On their debut EP Creatures of the Black, contrasting the covers with the originals, at this point, Mpire of Evil may fare better as a heavy metal cover band. Explore and enjoy at your convenience.