VENOM INC / NECROPHAGIA / SUNLORD / FUNERAL NATION
Date: 12th June, 2016
Ticket: $17/€15 (in advance) - $22/€19.50 (day of show)
I have raised the subject of getting old quite a few times most probably driven out of fear that I will stop bouncing off after staying late on a Sunday, just before a really busy Monday. And yes, this was another case of how 'I will face the next day' considering the kind of late start of this show. On the other hand, VENOM INC were again in the Chicago area, so only a fool would miss another opportunity to get a full serving of VENOM classics. And no, I won’t get into comparisons between the two VENOM versions because as a fan, I am getting the most of it; I hear the new and old songs and have the chance to see both versions that - to my ears - sound awesome for different reasons.
We entered the nicely packed BrauerHouse some minutes after SUNLORD’s set, so the stage was already getting prepped for NECROPHAGIA. This was exactly the same setup with the Reggies one, six months ago, so I was fully aware that headbanging would be soon on the menu. Watching Killjoy sitting on the side of the stage and occasionally doing some stretching with a look of pain on his face was kind of alarming because obviously he had something going on. Still, the show (tour) must go (unless you are some filthy rich band and you can sacrifice some days off the road), so the lights were dimmed and the taped intro brought the four-piece band onstage. The down-tuned guitar chords marked the time for some headbanging with the groovy “Upon Frayed Lips Of Silence”. The sound was loud but not at all noisy or even muffled, so extra credit goes to whoever was behind the soundboard. As in the Reggies show, the main focus was on Killjoy and his face expressions and to Steve Lehocky and his powerful guitar sound. Bassist Kathryn Flesher was kind of standing in the darkness, hidden behind her hair, but really did not miss a beat building a solid rhythm section alongside drummer Shawn Slusarek. After a short “thank you” by the band’s frontman, came the equally bone-crushing “Burning Moon Sickness” and clearly the Death Metal groove did not leave anyone indifferent. “A week before this tour I fucked up my back”, Killjoy admitted and affirmed my suspicions. Some people from the audience shouted “have a seat, we won’t mind” but no, he stood there and kept the Death Metal lava going with the atmospheric “Angel Blake”. In moments like this, one can have a glimpse of how hard can be for a band when on the road, especially in cases like this when there is not a butt load of money involved...
Aside from Killjoy's obvious discomfort (involving quite a lot of pain), NECROPHAGIA remained unaffected and kept pouring their rotted Death Metal with “Dead Skin Slave” being one of their set’s high moments (love the MORBID ANGLE-esque vibrato) with lots of headbanging. NECROPHAGIA dedicated “The Dead Among Us” to CARDIAC ARREST’s singer Tom [Knizer] before closing their packed with Death Metal set with “Cannibal Holocaust”. Yeah, after this set everyone was ready and properly warmed for some classic VENOM tracks.
02. “Upon Frayed Lips Of Silence”
03. “Burning Moon Sickness”
04. “Angel Blake”
05. “Whiteworm Cathedral”
06. “Blood Freak”
07. “Dead Skin Slave”
08. “Embalmed Yet I Breathe”
09. “The Dead Among Us”
10. “Cannibal Holocaust”
(click to enlarge)
The stage was pretty much ready, so after some adjustments to the drumkit and some kind of awkward wait for the thunderous taped intro to kick in, Mantas was joined by Tony and Abaddon (loved his pose as he stopped and looked at the crowd through his trademark sunglasses) and soon enough the pedal was to the Metal with “Welcome To Hell”. Fuck yeah, the sound was loud and we had the pleasure to getting our shocks knocked off by Tony’s massive bass sound and Mantas’ VENOM characteristic guitar distortion. Tony’s facial expressions and his British accent introduced the amazing “Angel Dust” and honestly I was surprised by the most energetic response from the audience. Yeah, I think there was more energy in this show than the one at Reggies so I guess the news that this lineup is really giving all it has from the stage, attracted more people. “Don’t Burn The Witch” sent shivers down my spine with the opening riff and a guitar sound straight from the '80s. Almost after every song, Abaddon was standing tall and screaming to the audience provoking people to do the same, sharing pretty the same mentally with every VENOM fan. There is absolutely no doubt that this lineup has an amazing time onstage, enjoying every minute with this adrenaline packed setlist.
Contrary to many requests, VENOM INC only included “Blackened Are The Priests” and “Carnivorous” in their set, and once again left out “Prime Evil” but hell, it is impossible to include all the VENOM’s classic and still have a 90-minute set. By the way, “Carnivorous” came out great with bone-crushing bass and drums, so a mosh-pit was in order. Mantas stepped in the center of the stage and asked from people to stand silent because it was time for “Buried Alive”, so soon enough we kicked in the echo-filled guitar intro that took me (again) back in time. And it is impossible to play this one without its follower that is “Raise The Dead” and this is exactly how things went down.
Oh my, Mantas nailed “In Nomine Satanas” and “Bloodlust” which I think was one of the best moments of the set; the way the main riff leads to the snare-drum storm is amazing and as you can imagine, the mosh-pit kept going despite the fact there was not a hell lot of space in front of the stage. In moments like these, it is impossible to tell the band from the audience and this is exactly the ‘beauty’ of having gigs in such places with only the die-hard fans present. “Ok, this one is mainly for the guys; you know that you have found the one when your parents tell you ‘she is a keeper and even your friends tell you that they’d f**k her…’ but you know, even her has some little poison in her” was Tony’s way to introduce this neck-snapping Thrasher “Poison”. The way Tony introduces the songs, mixing humor with being serious, really spiced things up and breaks down any possible boundaries that sometimes separate bands from the audience. “This music is yours and they cannot take it away from you. And if they try, tell them that they can fuck off because you are the sons of Satan”, were the words this time Tony used to make the obvious pass to “Sons Of Satan” that came crushing upon us and then... “what time it is?” asked Mantas, making his pass to the massive “Witching Hour”. Watching the band leaving the stage, I wandered where all this time had just flown by, despite the fact that the trio had been playing for one hour with minimum breaks.
People shouted for more and without waiting much (the curfew was kind of like the sword of Damocles above the show’s neck), Mantas stepped into the mic and said: “I have used this words before and I will do it again; they said with this song I wrote, I gave birth to an entire genre”. Of course this was the proper que for “Black Metal” that quickly restored the moshing mode. Sadly our “last chance to sing along” came also as the last song of the set; “Countess Bathory” got everyone singing and I think some did chant along the trademark riff, something Mantas enjoyed the most (judging by his smile). Looking at the setlist taped on the PAs, the band had also prepared “Die Hard” and “In League With Satan” for the encore but I guess the curfew did not let this to happen. I don’t want to sound disrespectful to the promoters and the supporting bands but I think it would have helped if they show had started half an hour earlier to get everything as planned.
At any rate, VENOM INC did deliver the goods and I think had a better show as compared to the Reggies show and this should be also credited to the people that came to see them. It seemed to me there were more die-hard fans present this time, something that gave an extra push to the otherwise killer set. Now I am even more curious to see what the future VENOM INC has in store for us; write new music or keep playing the VENOM classics? By the way, after the show I did not feel old at all and I think I will say something that many of us have in mind; Metal music is the fountain of youth for many of us aside from being the sanctuary for all the ups and downs of life.
VENOM INC setlist:
01. “Welcome To Hell”
02. “Angel Dust”
03. “Don’t Burn The Witch”
04. “Leave Me In Hell”
05. “Blackened Are The Priests”
07. “Buried Alive”
08. “Raise The Dead”
09. “Seven Gates Of Hell”
10. “In Nomine Satanas”
13. “One Thousand Days In Sodom”
14. “Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)”
16. “Sons Of Satan”
17. “Witching Hour”
18. “Black Metal”
19. “Countess Bathory”
(click to enlarge)