Blackened deathgrind newcomers Venom Prison make a pretty big impression early on with the artwork for their new record “Animus”. Yeah, yeah, “don’t judge a book by its cover” and all that, but a man having his genitals cut off and fed to him is an indelible image, especially from a female fronted death metal band.
Vocalist L collaborated with celebrated German artist Eliran Kantor (whose work has previously graced the LP sleeves of metal heroes Soulfly, Hatebreed and Slayer) on the piece, inspired by the lyrics of album track “Perpetrator Emasculation”. The subject is “a rapist is being force-fed his own genitalia”. L continues: “It’s not a secret that death metal art and lyrical content often involve violence against women and we liked the idea of turning the tables”
Given the current US political climate I think it’s an outstanding time for some no holds barred feminist death metal, and even though Venom Prison hails from UK, their take no prisoners approach is the perfect antidote to the shamefully glib and dismissive responses to the idea and act of sexual violence perpetrated against women that have been considered acceptable by certain amongst our citizenship as of late.
Good thing the music more than backs up the message. VP sounds like two of my favorite bands, Behemoth and Converge, stuck in a blender together, with a thick, old school death metal groove element slathered over the concoction, L’s rasping outrage a constant storm over the horizon of the cacaphony. Style is nothing without substance though and tight musicianship with deft songwriting permeate “Animus”, hard charging punk influenced drumming and basslines adding to the infectious presentation.
VP then switches it up with epic length album anchor, “Immantize Eschaton” a doomgrind dirge of apocalyptic proportions, and similarly descend into sludge territory on closer “Womb Forced Animals”. But Venom Prison’s multi-faceted, razor sharp attack works best at lightspeed, as on lead track “Abysmal Agony” and the aforementioned stop/start thrash scorcher “Perpetrator Emasculation”.
Shockingly only in existence since 2014, VP have birthed a monster of a debut LP, one for the ages and a sign of even more impressive work to come. “Animus” is a punk powered, death minded, grindcore masterpiece. I’ll look forward to Venom Prison venturing to America, and seeing our current culture of “grab ’em by the pussy” get grabbed by its complacent throat.