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"Blacker than Black" - 40th anniversary of Black Metal by Venom

by Luxi Lahtinen

Black Metal, the iconic second album by infamous British metal legends Venom, celebrates its 40th anniversary on November 1, 2022. It is often considered a cornerstone of the Black Metal genre by many (the album's title pretty much says it all, doesn't it?). It's got everything; songs, attitude, and the absolutely badass album cover that symbolizes the essence of evil and Satanism.

We here at the infernal headquarters of The Metal Crypt felt that this legendary album needed to be celebrated and asked several blood-spitting fallen angels, eternally cursed souls, and vomit-gurgling black priests what this celebrated album has meant to them over the years and how it has stood the test of time for the past four decades.

All interviews by Luxi Lahtinen

When did you hear Black Metal for the very first time and what was your initial reaction?

Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): I honestly don't remember when I first heard Black Metal, but I have a very clear memory of reading Venom articles and marveling at their pictures in a Finnish music/teen magazine called Suosikki in the mid-80s as a kid. The image of the band was so Satanic and evil that it took a while for me to actually listen to their music.

If I recall correctly, my initial reaction was a negative one. I hadn't yet fallen in love with extreme metal, and Venom sounded very dirty, rough, and noisy, which they, of course, do. Nowadays I find those qualities of Black Metal as gems. The initial reaction was a shock.

King Fowley (DECEASED): Loved it. Had Welcome to Hell, which was raw and hideously charming. Got Black Metal one weekend and tore it open to find a poster insert of the guys. Dropped the needle and that industrial-type noise guided me into the instantly classic anthem title track. Bass driven sound full of screaming guitars and slightly off of the pocket drumming per usual. The lyrics were sharp, evil-spirited and just fantastic. The intro to "Buried Alive," the bawdy "Teacher's Pet," and the all-out speed of "Heavens on Fire" all met their mark. Everything I could have hoped for. Amazingggggggggggggggg...!!!!!

Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): Pretty sure it was 1982. A friend loaned me Black Metal and Welcome to Hell at the same time to check out. It was exciting constantly discovering the next heavy or shocking thing back then and Venom definitely left a mark. My first thought after dropping the needle on Black Metal was "Oh shit, something's wrong with the record!" when the noisy intro started.

Then I realized it was an intro and the music quickly exploded out of the speakers and I fucking loved it. That was the next leap in brutality after Iron Maiden and Motörhead for my young ears. Amazing.

Adam Sičák (MALOKARPATAN): I can't recall first hearing that album specifically, but the first time I heard Venom was around 1996 on Headbanger's Ball. I was a school kid at that time, so my older brother was taping the shows on a VHS, and I'd watch it the day after. It was the "7 Gates of Hell" live video which is still my favorite Venom song. Soon after we got the Welcome to Hell album. We were getting heavily into the Scandinavian second wave of black metal in those years and since most of those bands were mentioning Venom as an influence, we decided to listen to more of them. Of course, at such a young age, I was more thrilled by what Emperor or Satyricon were doing, but I remember liking Venom. One could feel the difference from those modern bands, but it still had the same sort of otherworldly atmosphere hidden in the music, usually in the slower, moodier songs which tend to be my favorites from Venom. Eventually I heard all the other classic Venom albums and I found Black Metal to be the best among them.

Edu (ATARAXY): Like many other folks my age, I got to know the album as a teenager through Norwegian black metal. All those bands played Venom covers, the pictures of Varg Vikernes wearing the album t-shirt when he was arrested, etc. I remember loving all those catchy songs and thinking the guys were so cool in the old live videos.

Aethon (EURYNOMOS / MEGATHÉRION): The first thing I heard was the song "Countess Bathory" in 1986 and even though it was not speed or thrash metal, which was the new hot thing back then, it impressed me a lot and my reaction was something like, "Wow, this is real powerful and dark stuff." It was a true hymn, and I really liked the long vocals in the chorus, the catchy riff, and the double bass cannon fire. The entire album I probably heard a year later. Black Metal as an album is, of course, pure cult, and I remember being fascinated by the acoustic beginning of "Buried Alive" and how the song continued when the bass guitar came sliding into the song and the entire band started to play. You know the part where Cronos sings, "As they lower me down into that hole in the ground..." This was pure dark power. I consider the outro, "At War with Satan" one of the best black metal outros ever done, with all the screaming in the background and Cronos' voice, which got more and more dramatic... just awesome!

Ricard (PROSCRITO): Ave Luxi, once again it's a humbling pleasure to be invited to the birthday party. I listened to Black Metal for the first time as a very young lad, way before the pimples, constant erections, and first semi-decent mane of hair. What can I say about the impact that the opening riff of "Countess Bathory" had on my musical education? Or that noisy, hellish intro that opens the album, still pitch-black with its own red-light atmosphere? By the time I was hearing "Buried Alive" for the first time I knew by heart this was going to be my favorite song of all time. I might have been 12 at the time; now I'm 30 and it's still the same, along with The Stooges' "Dirt" and Alice Cooper's "Halo of Flies." As with all the classics, initial reactions might be overwhelming and almost religious, but some albums are made to last a lifetime and beyond, constantly updating their own impact and observing new edges, for perfection is made to be analyzed and studied instead of just enjoyed and sung along during drunken binges and whatnot. I'm still more partial to Welcome to Hell (and always have been), but one cannot find any flaws of any kind with early Venom.

Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): I first heard Black Metal when it was released in 1982. As far as my initial reaction, well, it took a minute to get past the extremely crude production (I heard this record before going back and checking out Welcome to Hell, so this was my first exposure to Venom) but once my ears were attuned to it I loved it. It was fast, noisy and Satanic. Of course, we now know that those guys weren't actually devil worshippers, but 17-year-old Danny didn't make that distinction.

Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): If I remember correctly, I heard it for the first time in 2001. A friend of mine bought one of those Castle Music reissues with all the bonus tracks and I had to copy it right away (final gasps of the pre-streaming era).

We were three/four friends ordering records and the only reason for ordering that record was that to us it seemed the right thing to do, haha! It was love at first sight for sure and every song immediately struck us. I remember particularly being attracted to "Buried Alive," which is so dark! I bought the LP a couple of years later and also had the opportunity to let Cronos sign it with his distinctive "sonorC," hehe!

Malte Gericke (SIJJIN): It must have been around 1987 I guess, when I was eleven years old. All the older kids in my tower block area were metalheads and led me into the realm of dark heavy metal. I just had bought Motörhead's Rock 'n' Roll, one of my very first records together with Powerslave, but Black Metal followed shortly after. Since every record was a profound mystery at that time, I was captured immediately by the mighty Venom. I mean, how couldn't you be, being that young and viewing the evil cover, seeing the absolute mesmerizing pictures of Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon, reading those enigmatic names and then, the needle went down and holy master in hell. I loved it all, the sound, the songs, the voice, Black Metal appeared to be a true initiation into the darker cult of metal.

José Afonso (DECAYED): The first time I heard the album was in 1988 when I bought the picture disc that a friend found for me. I already knew how they sounded because I had heard three songs from the At War With Satan album on the radio in 1986. I was blown away when I heard the full album for the very first time. This was what I was searching for in music. Their sound was cleaner on At War With Satan, but how they sounded on Black Metal, it pleased me very much.

The songs are amazing, the lyrics are metal enough for sure, so how can you not like Venom? The cover is perfect for the content on the album. I find it impossible to single out one track off the album and say it's better than some others because all of them are very different and unique. This has also been my main goal in all my bands, to sound unique and original.

Mike Coffey (STONE VENGEANCE): I first heard Venom's Black Metal in 1982. I felt it was exactly what the album title suggested, and I had never heard anything like it. I loved it!!!

Lorenzo Vissol (SCHIZOPHRENIA): I discovered this album pretty late when I was already listening to more extreme stuff like Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, etc. Funnily enough this album still felt extreme because of its rawness and energy. Really a timeless album, even when discovering it late.

Álvaro Fernandes (DEMENTIA 13): Well, I can't actually remember it well because back in the late '80s/early '90s we did a lot of tape trading and someone handed me a dubbed recording from this album and when I started listening to metal, I was more into stuff like Judas Priest, W.A.S.P., AC/DC or Iron Maiden, so the sound recording of Black Metal didn't help. As a kid it just sounded too extreme. But I rediscovered this classic a few years later when I started to get into more extreme stuff like thrash and death metal and nowadays, I can only say that this is one of the most influential recordings in metal, if not the biggest landmark in the genre and the one that started it all when it comes to extreme sonorities.

H.V (BLOOD CHALICE): I bought the album as a CD when I was a teenager. I had just begun listening to black metal and it was starting to be the most important thing to me. It was natural to go to the source from where it all began, Venom - Black Metal! Of course, it was very different from second wave black metal, but I had already listened to Bathory, so it now made sense to me how the genre developed as a whole. And to be honest, I really liked the album.

The songs are catchy as fuck and the lyrics are brilliant, even if a bit cheeky from time to time, "Teacher's Pet," for example, hah!

Helregni (FILII NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM): The first time I heard about Venom, or rather, read about Venom, was when I was a kid, probably not even a teenager yet. I was just a kid and back in those days there was absolutely no way for me to hear music other than the TV or the radio. But I bought a Brazilian music magazine, not metal or anything, just a rock mag. I believe this must surely have been in 1985 or '86. At the very end of the magazine, there was a final column with "Venom" and that pic of them with Cronos, his face in the dark, stabbing a skull or something. It went on about how they were playing their music for Satan. It mentioned crazy loud decibels and the like. I remember being very much in a shock as I had never seen anything like that. I remember talking about it to my dad, saying, "how is this possible, look at these maniacs!" But it left an impression. So much so that I kept the clipping, and I still have it to this day!! Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that one day, decades later, I would be a long-haired maniac too, even sharing the stage and backstage with those very same three crazy Satanists (not all three at the same time, but still!)

In 1987 I discovered Iron Maiden, and that led me to learn about heavy metal. Soon I was buying magazines and albums and a bit later going to gigs and learning about fanzines and the underground.

In 1988 I bought an amazing piece of vinyl through which I had my first contact with several astonishing, crushing bands. It was called Speed Kills – the Very Best in Speed Metal. One of the songs was called "Black Metal (alternative brand-new version of a classic – total mayhem)." The importance of this compilation is paramount in my life, and it was also the first time I heard the unholy music of the metal masters Venom!

I remember buying LPs by Venom before the decade ended, but I don't remember the exact order (I remember which store I bought each one in better). I do remember buying, all around the same time, At War With Satan, German Assault, then Possessed if I remember correctly and also Welcome to Hell. As usual back then, we metalheads would record tapes for each other. My friend and neighbor Belathauzer (who I, some years later, joined in Filii Nigrantium Infernalium) recorded a tape with Black Metal for me! At last, I had that gem, the first eruption of black metal onto the world! Later I got the LP version (and later a few CD versions... and the picture disc on my wall... the backpatch, t-shirts... the tattoo on my shoulder...).

Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): 1982. It scared me.

How do you rank the album among other metal albums released in 1982? Do you believe Black Metal was "too extreme" and "too punky" for many metalheads back in the day and that's why many couldn't make up their minds right away whether to like it or not?

Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): The roots of Black Metal are definitely in punk and hardcore, but they took it to new extremes. That's what separated them from the rest. No one else was making music like them. Most music consumers absolutely despised them, but a small group of fanatics saw them as the coming of the Antichrist, so to speak.

Iron Maiden were flirting with the devil, too, in 1982, when they released The Number of the Beast. So were Loudness and Ozzy with their album titles Devil Soldier and Speak of the Devil. So, basically Satan was gaining momentum as a heavy metal cultural figure, but nobody went as far as Venom on Black Metal musically or lyrically. Mercyful Fate were just starting their game with the Nuns Have More Fun EP, but I've never found them scary or "drinkers of priest vomit" like Venom.

While a lot of rock and metal bands were heading towards lighter and more radio-friendly '80s sounds, Venom chose to invoke sounds from Hell.

King Fowley (DECEASED): It was phenomenal! It lived up to all the "hype." It was a great dose of rock 'n' roll heavy metal. The songs, the attitude, and just enough mysticism to add an aura of "black magic" to it.

Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): If you were a serious metalhead back then, how could you not love it? It was the most extreme metal my friends and I had heard at that time, so everyone was into it. I was hearing a flood of new heavy metal bands and discovering record stores that carried imports and Venom really stood out. You have to understand, this was totally groundbreaking stuff. As soon as the Warhead and Bursting Out EPs came out, I grabbed those too. Golden times!

Adam Sičák (MALOKARPATAN): There were some killer NWOBHM albums that year, some of which were pushing metal to rougher territories (Filth Hounds of Hades, Wiped Out), but no one went as far as Venom. I can imagine the older heavy rock fans who grew up with bands like Deep Purple in the previous decade thinking this is going too far and perhaps it was a tad too amateurish for their liking, but nothing could stop what it summoned in the coming years, with Bathory, Hellhammer and many others rising shortly after. It's quite funny in retrospect that this record, which was one of the starting points for so-called "extreme metal" (what a terrible term anyway) is what I often put on when I miss the more musical elements that are absent on newer black metal records, such as varied songwriting and memorable hooks. Nowadays people try to only be extreme, but they forget about writing real riffs and songs that stick in your head, which Venom could do extremely well.

Edu (ATARAXY): It's hard to say, many heavy metal masterpieces were released in 1982 like The Number of the Beast, Screaming for Vengeance, Battle Hymns, Volumen Brutal, Iron Fist. Black Metal is surely within my top 10, or even within my top 5 depending on the day. From what I have read in many reviews in mainstream magazines from back in the day, it was totally bashed by most of them. Venom was really noisy by early '80s standards and, let's be honest, they weren't the most gifted musicians around. But they influenced different generations of bands and relentless maniacs looking for the most extreme and aggressive sounds, from Bay Area thrash to death and black metal. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Aethon (EURYNOMOS / MEGATHÉRION): Hard to say because I didn't experience it in 1982 when it was released. I slowly got into hard rock and heavy metal some years later. But I can imagine that Black Metal was like a revelation back in 1982. The traditional metalheads who probably only listened to bands with melodic vocalists most likely didn't like Venom at all. But for those who wanted a dirtier, darker and heavier version of Motörhead found a new cult band to worship. I remember Tom Angelripper said when he heard Welcome to Hell for the very first time, he couldn't believe how raw and hard it sounded. This was probably a common reaction of people back in the early '80s. And we all know that this motivated Tom to start his own black metal band, Sodom. I guess it was a "love it or hate it" situation. For some this was pure noise while others became absolute hardcore Venom fans.

Ricard (PROSCRITO): Yes, Iron Maiden released The Number of the Beast, which is ripe with some of the most perfect songs and one of the most iconic covers, perfect sound production and the fukk I know. Accept had released Restless and Wild, which is like the brutal update of Breaker (my two favorite releases of their back catalog), Screaming for Vengeance is one of my favorite Judas LPs, too (can't get enough headbanging to "Chains," "Pain & Pleasure," "Bloodstone" or the title track), Iron Fist needs no further comment beyond plain worship and I've truly had my own dose of obsession over Witchfinder General's and Tank's debuts during my teenage years. Of course, Black Metal is still too extreme, even for today's standards, and that's why I'd rank it alongside those other albums, if not ruthlessly trumping all of them. I'm more inclined to think there are loose "Motör-rock 'n' roll" vibes permeating its black essence instead of punk-ish overtones but couldn't care less either way. Even that sleazy "Teacher's Pet" feel rules supreme, and the final, over the top and violent bit of the song makes it a stone-cold classic. I'm all too used to reading how it's a classic example of filler, coming from know-it-all reviewers and the sort - no fukken way. And that cheesy Austin Osman Spare-alike ghastly cover artwork is still more grim and sinister than any hooded incense dealer.

Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): It was certainly a lot nastier than other albums released around then in the NWOBHM scene, but anyone who knows my musical career would realize that it was precisely my cup of tea. I was still in Anthrax when this came out, but by '84 I'd started Nuclear Assault in which I had more control over the musical direction, and bands like Venom (and the bands they directly inspired like Hellhammer, Sodom and Bathory) along with brutal punk bands like Discharge were very inspiring to me.

So maybe others at the time were a little thrown by the sound and fury of that record, but not this fucking guy.

Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): I guess for me I can't totally imagine, identify or empathize with a metalhead's mind in 1982 simply because I wasn't there at the time. Maybe Welcome to Hell was more shocking in 1981? Sound-wise, Black Metal was a huge improvement and maybe it was able to "venomize" those who were skeptical of the previous record?

Malte Gericke (SIJJIN): I wasn't blessed to hear Black Metal in 1982, the only thing I know is that when I heard it back in 1987, I was dragged to hell from that moment on. The sound of that chainsaw cutting the studio door made my ears bleed. Black is the night, metal we fight!

José Afonso (DECAYED): There was nothing like this back in 1982. They are the real kings of heavy music! They have been my favorite band since I became aware of them in 1986. They represent what metal should be all about. I don't have a favorite Venom album because I believe that all the first four are all very good and unique. Like I said, they were the heaviest band back then and for some people too extreme but for me they were the best band in the world! Those who understood what they were all about loved it! The thing with Venom is either you love it or hate it. And I love it!

Mike Coffey (STONE VENGEANCE): For me, it was my favorite at the time and for many years afterward. Nothing quite matched it. I felt that "Black Metal" was the greatest metal song ever written, in my opinion! Cronos from Venom was asked to describe his band's sound and he said, "We are speed metal, kill metal, death metal, power metal, Venom metal, not heavy metal because that's for the chicks" and practically all of those names became genres unto themselves. Venom started that and deserves credit for it!

Lorenzo Vissol (SCHIZOPHRENIA): Being born almost 13 years after 1982, it's hard for me to reply correctly to this question. However, in comparison to the other albums released that same year (and even after) it indeed felt a bit ahead of its time. At the same time, all those albums had a very strong punk vibe which sadly disappeared with the years passing. It's yet a precursor but still a very good representation of the period.

Álvaro Fernandes (DEMENTIA 13): Definitely man! You got that right. And that's also probably why it started the black metal sound almost by itself. Of course, you can hear many Motörhead influences in there but the way the guitars sound and the way Cronos sings were one step ahead EVERY album so far! I mean, you take Metallica's Kill 'Em All and you place it right there at the top landmarks that helped to define new extreme genres, probably no one had ever made something so well written and well recorded before. But then you listen to Black Metal, which came out one year before and you clearly see where Metallica got so many riffs for their debut. Surely it was an inspiration. So, I guess I can say that after Black Sabbath's debut practically invented heavy metal, Venom's second album helped to define what extreme Metal subgenres would sound like in the future.

H.V (BLOOD CHALICE): It's obviously the black metal album of that year. The only album, actually a demo, that could compete with it is Sodom's Witching Metal. Though it's a demo and the sounds are really low-fi even for black metal.

It's hard for me to say how people reacted to it since I did not exist at that time. At least on this plane of existence. But I guess it might have been too much for people who weren't interested on black arts and blasphemy. Too loud for the crowd?

Helregni (FILII NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM): Well, Venom came up right in the middle of the NWOBHM, and many of the bands of the movement were little more than rock bands when you hear them today. I sometimes pick old compilation LPs of the time, and Venom totally stands out from the rest (even the heavier ones), like a cactus in an apple basket. Many bands were trying to improve technique, write better songs, have the best singing, etc. but Venom didn't give a fuck about that!

We must remember that many of the more established metal bands were being aggressively attacked in the media for being Satan worshippers, and many were denying those accusations. Venom, on the other hand, were singing about satanic sacrifices and calling Satan their master in their lyrics. They went and recorded an actual inverted satanic message as an intro and they were saying nothing worse in it than what they recorded forwards. It was all a big extended middle finger. It's so easy for these younger dudes today, all high on the post-Norwegian lo-fi crap noise, to say that Venom were not really a black metal band, they were hard rock, or something like that. Venom gave birth to black metal, thrash metal and death metal in those early years of the eighties. Extreme metal stemmed from Venom, who demolished all the walls back then with Welcome to Hell and Black Metal. I obviously love quite a few albums from 1982. It's the year The Number of the Beast and Screaming for Vengeance were released, for fuck's sake! But were Venom and Black Metal less influential for metal than these two albums?

Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): I do NOT think it was too extreme or too punky! Those are both GOOD characteristics! Personally, I like Welcome to Hell much better! There were others in '82 that were better, in my humble opinion. Raven, Anvil, Maiden are a few. I don't think it was in my top 20 of that year.

Has your opinion about the album changed over the years (for better or for worse)?

Markus Laakso (KUOLEMANLAAKSO): I love it! I started a new project, The Ghoulstars after listening to Black Metal and other early Venom albums on a road trip last year. So, thank you, Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon.

King Fowley (DECEASED): Nope, it still delivers in full! An instant classic for a reason :) I play it at least twice a year!

Chris Reifert (AUTOPSY): I still get that exact same feeling now as I did the first time although the initial shock factor has long since melted away. It's got everything going for it. It's heavy, ugly, evil, sick, mischievous, rockin', punky, gross, fun, swaggering, punishing and fuckin' badass. Oh yeah, the cover, layout and band photos rule too. Case closed!

Adam Sičák (MALOKARPATAN): It has aged extremely well for me! I play it all the time. So many recent metal albums, I forget them as soon as I check them out because there are no memorable moments, and the songs are usually all fast and resemble each other way too much. On classics like Black Metal, you get the ferocious fast songs, BUT you then also get slow atmospheric pieces like "Buried Alive," mid-tempo fist-stomping anthems like "Countess Bathory" and I love even ostensibly dumb-fun songs like "Teacher's Pet" that are a firm part of the '80s spirit. They make the grimmer songs stick out more in a way. Venom is often criticized for their unserious Hollywood satanism and party attitude. All I can say to those people is write a song with a riff rocking as hard as "Sacrifice" and then I'll care about how many grimoires you've read.

Edu (ATARAXY): I play Venom quite often. Nowadays it's mostly the The Seven Gates of Hell compilation CD, with all the 1980-1985 Neat Records singles and EPs. I love to spin that one while I'm packing orders or stuff like that. But I also listen to Welcome to Hell and Black Metal quite often. I wish the original power trio had reunited in 2015 instead of doing that Venom and Venom Inc. bullshit. I'm not interested in any of them, I want the whole package!

Aethon (EURYNOMOS / MEGATHÉRION): It is still a masterpiece and a very original album! I love everything about it, the production, guitar sound, vocal style, bass slides and sound, clever songwriting and also its variety, and, the visual aspects of the album. It has one of the most iconic layouts ever! The goat, the title Black Metal embossed, the Venom's "Legions" symbol, great band photos, etc. Remember how silly some bands looked back in 1982. Venom, to the contrary, already looked dead serious. Abaddon with his Doberman, Cronos in the red light, Mantas cool as hell on his bike; just perfect! All the Venom albums looked great, you can tell that the band exactly knew what they wanted and that these weren't accidental layouts that were done by ordinary record company guys. And the fact that younger generations of metalheads seem to love and worship the album just shows that it has definitely stood the test of time and that Black Metal deserves to be seen as a true cult release. The classic Venom for me is the holy grail of extreme metal.

Ricard (PROSCRITO): It's just gotten more personal and charged with further meaning, a driving force for a life of my own lived with passion, angst, devotion, fervor and, why not, a good dose of dissolution. Looking at the band member pictures that appear on the back cover or reading that sacrilegious back print of my torn 'n' worn sleeveless Black Metal shirt is enough to make me shiver these days. They were a band at the top of their game, and I'm glad I've had more than enough of those three things that make life almost worth living while blasting songs like "Sacrifice," "To Hell and Back," "Raise the Dead" or "Heaven's on Fire" at a brutal volume. Add any of the maxi singles, or any album up to and including Possessed, for that matter. The Neat Records thumb will always be engraved in my skull.

Danny Lilker (NUCLEAR ASSAULT): I don't think my opinion has changed that much about it. Sure, what used to sound blazing fast now sounds a little more "quaint," but this record also brings back great memories as well.

Side note: The picture of Mantas on the back on the bike with the amps behind him always made me laugh. Dude looks like he's going to grab a 6-pack and go down to the seaside to blast Scorpions on a boom box.

Dee Dee Altar (BUNKER 66): It has remained the same for me, it's one of the best records of all time. The only thing that changed within my mind over the years is the awareness of how seminal and essential it is. I know that Venom never reached those peaks again, but they should be glorified forever for those early recordings. They were game changers and metal music was never the same again.

Malte Gericke (SIJJIN): Damn, I love it as much today as back then, I dare to say even more. I never understood why so many fucking shitheads claimed that the guys cannot handle their instruments properly. What? Are you kidding me??? Cronos was an amazing bass player and shouter, plus one of the best heavy metal front men ever. Mantas was one of my first guitar heroes, man, his riffing was absolutely brilliant, his solos even better. Abaddon's bumpy playing might be questionable, but it added this certain note to the overall brilliant songs and all of 'em had a stage presence larger than life. There's nothing more to add, except maybe that I would have loved to see no other Venom incarnation after Eine kleine Nachtmusik.

My Venom existed until 1986 and they still belong to my top ten bands of all fucking time. Hail Venom!

José Afonso (DECAYED): The more I hear the album the more I love it! There is no one releasing music like this anymore, not even Venom. I listen to the album at least once a year. Like I said previously, compared to what gets released nowadays, Black Metal sounds far better! The sound still feels updated, there is nothing wrong with this album and in fact, there is nothing wrong with any of their first four albums. Hail Venom forever! \m/

Mike Coffey (STONE VENGEANCE): Well, to me, the album is what it is. I don't really compare it to anything today. I feel the same way about it that I felt when I first bought it. I don't compare it to the bands of today. It was original, it was the beginning, it was first. For death metal bands and black metal bands of today, I've talked to many of them and some make little jokes about Venom and I correct them by saying, "Well, you're playing black metal music, a genre Venom started, that's like hating the tree, and loving the fruit." It's disrespectful. It sounds just as good today as it did when I first bought it. My opinion has not changed. It is one of the greatest heavy metal records ever produced!

Lorenzo Vissol (SCHIZOPHRENIA): With the passing of time, I have more respect for this album being such a classic and defining record, actually. If one would like to describe what early metal and the original essence of extreme metal was, I think this would be the perfect album to give as an example.

Álvaro Fernandes (DEMENTIA 13): For better, of course. I like it even more today! "To Hell and Back" is my favorite track but what can I say about the title song? And "Countess Bathory"? It's a landmark, plain and simple, and anyone into extreme metal that doesn't appreciate this classic album knows nothing about extreme metal!

H.V (BLOOD CHALICE): I actually listened to the album a few times recently and I have to admit I didn't remember it having that good production. My opinion hasn't changed - it's still amazing!

Favorite tracks – "Black Metal," "Sacrifice," "Buried Alive," "Countess Bathory" and "Don't Burn the Witch" still deliver.

Don't burn the witch - the ways of Hell aren't wrong!

Helregni (FILII NIGRANTIUM INFERNALIUM): Nothing has changed except for the fact that as years go by, each listen takes me back further away in time to those pristine days. That's one of the most magical properties of these albums we bought and loved some 35 years ago. They have become time machines that transport us to those early years of youth and to the spirit of the scene that existed back then, when metal was dangerous, wild, and hadn't been turned into normalized watered-down commercial bullshit. I still worship the Venom albums as much as I always did and that's truly a whole fucking lot! By the way, I never understood Possessed being called a weak album or Calm Before the Storm. All those '80s albums are fucking monuments for me. All hail Black Metal, the Black Metal album!

Patrick Ranieri (HELLWITCH): No change.

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