Venom Inc @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

VENOM INC / METALFIER / SONS OF FAMINE / AXXIOS

Date: 31st August, 2018
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket:
$20 / €17
Promoter: Empire Productions & Rebel Radio


To be brutally honest, I was kind of reluctant to go to this show as I did not know how Mantas would be onstage, considering his most recent resuscitation experience that changes your whole view of life forever. On one hand, I wanted to keep the last memory of seeing this lineup frozen in mind in top shape, and on the other, I was selfishly thinking what would be my next VENOM INC concert, if Mantas chose to stop doing shows, something that would be absolutely understandable. Fortunately (and for reasons you will soon read about) I chose the latter hand, even though the stormy weather was trying to change our mind. After all, a setlist full of VENOM songs (“INC” was purposely left out) will always be a reason for me to go to a show, no matter what.

However, battling the heavy rains on I-55 meant to lose the first two bands of the billing and flirting with losing the third one, but we were lucky that the timetable had been pushed 30 minutes later. So, there we were at the first row drying ourselves a bit and getting ready for the unknown to me band METALFIER. No matter what, I needed some morale boost to get me into the Metal show mood and put my second thoughts to rest. The set started with “Holidaze” which turn out to be quite of a headbanger, and I think it gathered the crowd closer to the stage. Sure, the rather modern sound was not 100% my cup of tea but the band’s high energy level was exactly what I was looking for to get me going. The more I listened, the more I realized that METALFIER draw their influences for classic Metal bands and this started to turn the tables for me. “We are METALFIER from New York”, said the already sweating Andrew Janda making it obvious that the band was determined to work hard and earn the Reggies crowd. The double-bass action of “Into The Unknown” did the trick, being faster than the set opener. During the slower “Everybody Is Somebody” I got the chance to appreciate the guitar work and got my straightforward Metal fix with “Heavy Metal Life”. After all, you can never go wrong with a song title like this one, right?

Andrew kept teasing the audience to get more involved and he got this with a help of a JUDAS PRIEST cover. There is no way to not know how to respond to the famous question “Breaking the what?” unless your relation to Metal is so superficial that you do not even know the basics… Anyway, there was a pretty good singing-along participation during “Breaking The Law” and this mood bled straight into “NYC Rocks”. And yes, it was fun to hear Andrew changing a bit the lyrics into “Chicago rocks”, even though it did not rime well.

After a lukewarm start, METALFIER did manage to get me in the perfect mood for VENOM INC and, in fact, I went on their Bandcamp page to see what their discography looks like and I was further intrigued. I will keep an ear on them for sure.

METALFIER setlist:

01. “Holidaze”
02. “Into The Unknown”
03. “Everybody Is Somebody”
04. “Heavy Metal Life”
05. “Bad Reputation”
06. “Breaking The Law”
07. “NYC Rocks”
08. “Devil Inside My Head”

METALFIER

Metalfier @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metalfier @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metalfier @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metalfier @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Metalfier @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)


The first indications that VENOM INC would give a(nother) killer show came during the stage prep; watching Mantas setting up his guitar pedals made me so happy because he looked absolutely in a perfect condition for a person who had open heart surgery some months ago. And this made me almost forget that the band would be one original member short, since Abaddon has stepped out for the European and for these US dates. I have no idea if this will be a permanent situation, but I will state this right now; the absence of this figure behind the set along with his drumming is impossible to replace, no matter what.

Around 10:30pm, the lights went out, “Metal We Bleed” kicked off the set, and there I was wearing a huge smile on my face watching Mantas being Mantas... I have no idea what he did (or how he did it), but this gentleman has fully recovered and shows no signs of slowing down. Tony Dolan lived up to his nickname assuming his Lemmy-like singing position, while tormenting his bass like we were in the middle of the set. To my surprise, the audience caught up with the show really fast and all hell broke loose the moment the trademark guitar chords introduced “Welcome To Hell”. There was moshing alright and immediately a huge part of the venue arena cleared up to host the moshers. “Here we are and here you are because we all die hard”, said Tony and the shouting-the-chorus was added to the Metal festivities. Being in front of stage left, I had the pleasure to witness at a spitting distance that nothing has changed in Mantas’ performing and on purpose I repeat myself as I want to underline that the legendary guitarist is 666% back. Do I really need to tell you how things went down during “Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)”? Oh, I am sure I don’t, but it was this early in the set that I first realized how much I missed Abaddon. Sure, THE ABSENCE drummer Jeramie Kling was full of energy and did pretty well behind the kit, but he did not (and will not) replace those ton-heavy shoes.

“We have been in many places in the world”, said Tony in an attempt why it is nowhere a good idea to... I have no idea if he prepares all these awesome intros before each song but this preamble fit “Don’t Burn The Witch” like an inverted pentagram on a dark ritual [sic]. Next was one of the few songs from Avé” and that’s a shame since the album is a killer and definitely deserves more air/play-time. Sure, people come to the show for the old-school material, but this is not VENOM INC’s first tour, so I feel adding a bit more new tracks would make the fresh material more familiar to the younger generation. By the way, the riff collection here is amazing and the way Tony is passionately growling perfectly fits the frustration we all have to witness nowadays all around the world with people willing to fight over nothing... Aside from the debut VENOM INC LP, I’d love to get more stuff from my favorite non-Cronos singing album. I am refereeing to “Prime Evil” and the pounding rhythm let everyone know that was time for that with “Blackened Are The Priests” lifting the dark curtain. Despite being close to my mid-40s, I could not restrain myself during the bass-driven break... Oh my, I was totally in VENOM heaven (I love this oxymoron)! The rest of the songs from this album were without the title-track surprise to my disappointment. However, the ferocity of “Carnivorous” and “Parasite” was high-octane fuel for the mosh-pitters. Before the latter, Tony thanked god for the thunderstorm above Chicago for being the perfect setting for the show. The short intros kept coming and were almost as entertaining as the music was; “For those who are at their 40s, this song will be an old one. But for the younger ones, “Lady Lust” will be a new”, he added before letting the guitar take over. Oh yeah, there was sweat, beer and a couple of bruises on the menu, but no one seemed to be complaining in the first rows.

There was a bizarre mix of emotions in the way Tony introduced “Black ‘n’ Roll”; he started by mentioning the losses the Metal scene has endured the last ten years or so, starting off with Dio and all the way to Lemmy saying that each time he thought it would have been the end of things. “Then, 13 weekes ago, this guy died” he added pointing at Mantas. “But they saved him and here we are doing what we love. Lemmy wanted to die with his boots on and this is exactly what we will do”, he concluded sending shivers down my spine when I realized the truth hidden between humor. The MOTÖRHEAD-esque “Black n' Roll” was the perfect conclusion to these words and headbanging was the best way to express the flooding emotions.

The next hair-raising moment was when Mantas got the mic to introduce in his way the genre-creating song titled “Black Metal”. Before doing so, he mentioned his heart attack and then showed everyone his scar from the double bypass surgery that saved his life but failed to get him retired and then all hell broke loose (the 666th time that night). After Tony’s gift to us that was “Sons Of Satan”, he left the stage leaving the other two guys in the cold waiting for him to return. That was a funny moment because apparently Tony thought that it was time for the encore, but this was after the next song… The Thrash precursor “Witching Hour” restored the order and then it was time for the band to leave the stage. No one moved an inch, and after some VENOM, VENOMchanting, the trio returned and exploded once more with the three-minute assault of “Bloodlust” that gives me the goosebumps every time I hear Mantas before the solo. By the way, this was another song where I missed Abaddon and the insane drumming on this. “Now it is your time to sing a couple ones” said Tony and he was right because we screamed our lungs out during “In League With Satan” and the icing on the cake “Countess Bathory” although I wished the changing part during the trademark riff would have been louder.

All my second thinking had evaporated the moment Tony and Mantas had stepped onstage. The energy was at the same level as the previous time (almost a year ago) I saw VENOM INC, with the only difference being the huge gap that left Abaddon’s absence. Sure, Jeramie Kling did great but it is a totally different experience when you have three original VENOM members onstage instead of two. I wonder what these gentlemen have in mind when it comes to going back to the studio...

VENOM INC setlist:

01. “Metal We Bleed”
02. “Welcome To Hell”
03. “Die Hard”
04. “Live Like An Angel (Die Like A Devil)”
05. “Don't Burn The Witch”
06. “War”
07. “Blackened Are The Priests”
08. “Carnivorous”
09. “Parasite”
10. “Warhead”
11. “Lady Lust”
12. “Black n' Roll”
13. “Leave Me In Hell”
14. “Black Metal”
15. “Sons Of Satan”
16. “Witching Hour”
17. “Bloodlust”
18. “In League With Satan”
19. “Countess Bathory”

VENOM INC

Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Venom Inc @ Reggies Rock Club (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

(click to enlarge)