Venom needs no introduction to all true fans of metal. These guys practically invented the term Black Metal and were playing hellacious music when many of you were still wetting your diapers! The first album Welcome To Hell (1981) said it all, and they’ve had the door to Hades open ever since. And now Venom present their 13th release, entitled Resurrection -- and with one listen you’ll realize it’s quite possibly their best recording ever. When guitarist Mantas speaks of the new album, there’s a genuine amount of pride in his voice.

“I think the first immediate difference is the drumming and production,” Mantas stated, an obvious reference to the departure of their longtime drummer Abaddon. “I think on this album, we’ve got a much more modern production and feel to the songs, while retaining the old Venom stamp. Everybody, the record company (SPV) and band -- we’re very proud of the record.”

Many Black Metal bands cite Venom as a major influence -- hell, Venom even recorded an album called Black Metal back in 1982. “To be brutally honest,” Mantas stated, “We’re very proud that we started this whole new musical movement. Yet at the same time, it seems a bit strange because I don’t think we have too much in common with what today’s Black Metal bands are doing. Some of them are retaining the raw element and are really going for it. But all this ambient, orchestral stuff that going on -- I don’t think we have too much common with that.” Mantas cites Judas Priest as one of his influences, and makes an interesting point, “ I suppose it would be the same if K.K. Downing and Glenn Tipton were to read an interview with me and I say that those two guys were responsible for me picking up a guitar. So in the same way that early Priest and early Kiss influenced me to form Venom, Venom have influenced a whole new generation to go on and do something a bit more extreme. The metal scene in general has got to continue to evolve. This Black Metal thing has been good for metal as far as I‘m concerned -- it‘s given metal a good kick in the ass!”

There are stories that one on of the early Venom releases At War With Satan, many of them came out with the misprint At War With Stan. Mantas just laughs at all this nonsense -- it’s one of the many rumors surrounding Venom. Mantas comments, “We use to have this fictional spokesperson for the band. If ever we were to write for magazine, we wrote under the pen name of Stan. I think that’s where this all came from. We just took one of the A’s out of Satan and it became Stan. It was just typical Venom humor!”

Speaking of Satan, with so many bands having the market saturated with songs hailing the horned one, has mentioning old Lucifer in a song lost all of it‘s shock value? “Yes, I would agree with you there,” says Mantas thoughtfully, “Previous to us, when we came out with Welcome To Hell, you only had people like Black Sabbath and perhaps Black Widow who were sort of hitting on the satanic side. The thing that we’ve always had -- myself and Cronos in particular -- we’ve always had a keen interest in whether it’s the occult or horror films -- we’ve always had that interest in the darker side of things. We wanted to take it as far as we could within the confines of the concepts of Venom. But I would agree that nowadays, with the goth scene and the satanic scene in metal -- I don’t think that anybody is afraid of devils with pointy horns and vampires with pointy teeth anymore. It takes a lot to get people shocked nowadays. Just take a look at the Internet -- you can be as shocked as you want -- you just have to go online.”

Their new drummer Annton has been a friend of the band for over twenty years. “It’s appropriate that someone who has been close to the band has now been a permanent member. Everyone that we’ve done interviews from all over the world, and they’ve all been saying that this guy is far superior to Abaddon. There’s a lot of the material on the album that we couldn’t have physically done with Abaddon. If you’ve listened to his solo album, then you’ll realize why the guy left.” Needless to say, Mantas and Cronos are quite happy with their new drummer.

Now it’s time for word association and the subject will the bands. The first band is Slayer. “Slayer!” Mantas exclaimed, “Know them from way back when. I remember when they supported us in I think it was Chicago. I went up to the balcony and watched them and thought fucking hell, these guys are intense! I‘m not the biggest Slayer fan in the world, but they‘re out there doing it as well. They‘re good guys!”

Bathory is the next one. “Bathory! Fucking hell! What can I say? One quote -- ‘I want to be Venom’ -- and that’s all I have to say about that guy.” Ouch!!!

Emperor. “They supported us at the Metal Invader festival in Athens, Greece in 97. Good band, very good musicians. I was really well impressed with those guys. They were the kind of guys that we very humble. They stood there, did the business and it was great.

And what about Mister Marilyn Manson. Picture Mantas laughing hysterically now. “You know, some of his stuff I really like and there’s other stuff and think ‘fuckin’ ‘ell! I don’t really see what all the fuss is about. He’s doing it, so you can’t knock the guy. Anybody who’s in the metal field has got to be doing something good. Every band has got their strengths and weaknesses. If there is any band out there who is flying the flag with metal on it, then it’s got to be good -- let’s put it that way.”

Unfortunate musical trend? “Boybands and the Spice Girls! Britain has far too many boy bands! Fucking Backstreet Boys and Take That -- you would not believe it over here! The record buying public is Britain is between the ages of 6 and 12. The metal scene in Britain sucks big time! I have a 12-year-old daughter and she’s pretty proud that she has a cool dad who’s in a band. But she loves all these bands. She wanted me to take her to see one of these boy bands at the Newcastle Arena and I was like No Way! I had a hard time when I had to go into a record store and buy some of these CD’s for her Christmas presents. I was so fucking embarrassed!”

And what keeps Venom going after all these years. Mantas replied, “Just a fucking good sense of humor! And just the desire to keep doing it. At the end of the day we don‘t give a fucking shit what other people think. We‘re still in this because we want to play metal. The thing is what‘s in your heart -- you get onstage and you just fucking play it. Me and Cronos -- people will have to drag us offstage now. The year 2000 is going to be our year and it‘s long overdue!”