Unlike most metalheads, I think I'm somewhat sacrilegious when it comes to my non-appreciation of Venom. They are one of two acts that I know are just worshipped in the metal community, but I simply do not get the appeal at all (the other being King Diamond). That being said, I had very little expectation for a new Venom release, and yet, they came though with what is a fairly solid effort.
Is this great, no. But it is Venom doing what they do and yet being a touch stronger than normal for them in my eyes. First and foremost, kudos to them for finally figuring out how to capture their sound in the studio. They have a career of bad recordings behind them, so it's good to hear them recorded well. Secondly, these songs on FALLEN ANGELS are not the typical Venom dirges of anger and hatred surrounded by lacking musicianship. In short, these songs sound like songs played by professional musicians. Sure, listening to a song like "Beggarman" are still raw and raucous, but they are much tighter than this band usually sounds. The overall sound is a shade different than in the past too, as it sounds like there's just a touch of a modern flair to the songs found on FALLEN ANGELS. It's a good quality for them.
Individually - well, it's Venom. Cronos is still a bad singer/ranter, but his dirges are expected and meet expectations throughout. He croaks it out with vengeance on songs like "Lap Of The Gods". He also lays down a much more solid, less distorted bassline than ever before on this release. He and drummer Dante create a thick, yet somewhat raw and flattened foundation on songs like "Hail Satanas". On guitar, La Rage is full of that early punk meets Metal sound that has defined Venom's career. To listen to him play on songs like "Hammerhead", it's clear that he's not the best player on the planet but knows how to craft his music to what is needed from song to song. Overall, these guys come together and create a decent enough effort from start to finish.
PITRIFF RATING - 68/100 - I'm well aware that this is more of a Cronos solo album than a true Venom album featuring the original guys. To be honest, I don't care, as I'm not really a fan nor do I have any intention of ever seeing these guys live. That said, if you are into the spirit of Venom or just respect them for their contributions to the history of Metal, then you will probably appreciate this. It's not great, but it doesn't suck either. It's Venom - based on that sentence alone you should be able to judge if you want to purchase it or not.