Garry Sharpe-Young of Rockdetector.com recently conducted an interview with VENOM frontman Conrad "Cronos" Lant. A few excerpts from the chat follow:
On the subject of the detractors, fans who believe the only "real" VENOM includes Mantas and Abaddon:
Cronos: "Look, VENOM has over the years had so many line-ups, but a lot of fans say the only VENOM that actually matters, that was actually real, was Cronos, Mantas and Abaddon. You know what? I agree with them! I absolutely agree 100%. The trouble is, when we had the re-ressurection of the band in 1995 I quickly discovered that I was the only one interested in re-creating what the original band was all about. You might call that a lack of progress but for me, I just hadn't changed my philosophies towards the music, what VENOM stood for or the kind of metal I wanted to record and play live. The other guys had moved on. If you listen to Abaddon's solo record, that's where he was at — electro industrial shit. If you listen to what Mantas is doing now, that's where his heart is, in that nu-metal stuff. That was the problem, y'see. It looked like VENOM, but in reality there was only one of us really into it. For all the will in the world, and all the fans expectations of us, it just wasn't going to work. It wasn't 'Black Metal' because the original feeling was gone. A lot of the album 'Cast In Stone' I really like, but some of it, like 'Domus Mundi' — what's that shit?"
Rockdetector.com: Do you feel resentful that Mantas and Abaddon had lost the spirit?
Cronos: "No, not at all. They are just into different things now. That's OK. I don't get what they're doing but that's for them. It's just important that the VENOM fans know where the true heart of the band is."
Rockdetector.com: When did you start plotting the new album "Metal Black"?
Cronos: "First of all I had to get the right vibe, the real, original VENOM vibe. Without that there was just no fucking point, y'know? Getting Mantas and Abaddon back wasn't going to work — ever. Antton had drummed on 'Resurrection'. He's in these PANTERA-type bands so has had to really re-school himself on the concept of VENOM drumming. He studied it really hard. It's not about all the flash and fills, it's just about the awesome power of the kit. Mike [Hickey, a.k.a. Mykus] is from the 'Calm Before The Storm' era. When I contacted him and told him about the idea, of taking VENOM back to the early '80s, he was really excited because that's what he always wanted to do back in '86."
Rockdetector.com: Is Mike still based in the USA?
Cronos: "Yeah, so he flew over and we started rehearsing. The plan was to sort this out for ourselves first before even telling any record companies. We all wanted to find out if we could recapture the real VENOM. What we did was to rehearse for three months and we just played songs from the first four albums. That's all we did because we wanted to really get that old style back into our blood before we even thought about writing any new songs. It had to be genuine."
Rockdetector.com: At first a lot of people thought the album title "Metal Black" was a joke.
Cronos: "Yeah, we knew it would be controversial. Originally we were going to call the record 'Malificarum' after one of the songs on the album, but Sanctuary [the record company] said they couldn't even spell that, let alone say it. Then we just thought, 'Well, if we are going back to the old days then the title is just obvious isn't it?' 'Metal Black'. It says it all. It's been really interesting seeing people's reaction. Some have said did the lazy bastards just pick two words out of a hat? There is already a huge debate on the VENOM forums about it. It's the kind of title that will cause fights. There'll be blood and guts, believe me!"
Rockdetector.com: What about song titles for the album?
Cronos: "It's all familiar VENOM stuff, y'know? Nothing fancy, just straight to the point. There's 'Antechrist', 'Born in Hell', 'Malificarum', 'A Good Day To Die', 'House of Pain', 'Death and Dying', 'Assassin', 'Lucifer Rising', 'Blessed Dead'."
Rockdetector.com: I don't think anyone could doubt those are traditional VENOM titles.
Cronos: "What's interesting is that, in the 9 years we were away, is that none of the bands who came after us used any of the song titles we had that were unused. We had hundreds of them yet all these bands like MAYHEM and EMPEROR were all getting very fancy, like 'Insalubrious Ex Salubrious' and all that stuff. What the fuck is that shit? We always kept it very black and white."
Read the entire interview at Rockdetector.com.