Venom Prison – “Erebos” LP
The third full-length from these Welsh warriors of extreme-metal, emerging from lockdown, emptied and reloaded. As soon as death metal gets progressive, or overly technical, or (satan-forbid) melodic – not so much ‘run to the hills’ as change the fucking channel. Bearded young men, sat noodeling and fret-wanking, cabled into their laptops, is not what we need any more of. Venom Prison, however, keep the pitfalls of melodic tech/death metal in check, and they are an exception. A lyrical smartness that surpases nearly all metal (the evils of capital punishment, abuse related PTSD, systemic oppression etc.), and also fucking brilliant sleeve artwork (a terrifying mix of Goya and Lucian Freud – credit to the artist, Eliran Kantor; and also to the band for choosing him). The ‘metalcore’ tropes, when used by these guys, work because it’s an aggressive style that benefits from being demasculated a little (but without compromising its exciting sonic violence. I think Converge have just figured that one out, too). Third album, and yes, a tentative step into progessive new sounds; but when a band has a frontperson with such a strong, confident voice, introducing clean vocals is a good option. New and improved.