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M-pire of Evil – Creatures of the Black

M-pire of Evil – Creatures of the Black (2011, Scarlet Records)

1. “Exciter” … 5:12
2. “Motorhead” … 2:58
3. “Reptile” … 4:48
4. “God Of Thunder” … 5:10
5. “Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be” … 3:55
6. “Creatures Of The Black” … 5:15

Band:
Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan – Bass & Vocals
Jeff “Mantas” Dunn – Guitars
Anthony “Antton” Lant – Drums

*deep breath*

Black metal pioneers Venom have had quite a confusing shift in members over the years. The classic/best-selling/most influential version of the band consists of Conrad “Cronos” Lant (vocals/bass), Jeff “Mantas” Dunn (guitar) and Anthony “Abaddon” Bray (drums). Their run in Venom takes place from 1980-1986 and 1995-1999. All three members have come and gone over the years. At various times, one or two of the “classic” members would exit, leaving the remaining member(s) to carry on. After Mantas walked away in the late ’80s, Cronos & Abaddon tried Venom out as a four-piece before Cronos himself left the band (to start a solo career). Keeping the band a four-piece, Mantas rejoined along with new guitarist Al Barnes  (What, no nickname?) and new vocalist/bassist Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan, formerly of Atomkraft. This signaled a slight change in sound for the band as they went for a more traditional, competent & better produced thrash/speed metal sound as opposed to the raw, sloppy Satanic metal that had helped create entire metal sub-genres in the early ’80s.

Eventually, in 1993, the Dolan-era came to an end and the band laid dormant. In 1995, the classic Venom line-up of Cronos/Mantas/Abaddon was back. More changes occurred. Abaddon left in 2000 and the drummer’s seat was filled by Cronos’ brother Anthony “Antton” Lant. Even more changes were in store. Mantas left in 2005, Antton left in 2009. According to Mantas, none of the classic members are ever going to work together again, but we’ll see.

Enter Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan once more. In 2010, Mantas & Antton teamed up with Dolan to give us a new group called Prime Evil. No, wait… That’s what they were called. They ended up changing their name once they became aware that another band was already using that name. Now they are known as M-pire of Evil. Though this trio has never played on a Venom album together, Dolan & Mantas have worked in Venom together and the same can be said of Mantas & Antton (they also played together a metal band called Dryll). I find it interesting that Cronos’ brother would leave Venom and then later hook-up his old guitar player and the singer who once replaced him in order to form a new group that obviously borrows a lot from Venom. It’s like we’re getting two Venom groups these days. Another former Venom member, guitarist Mike “Mykus” Hickey was going to be involved in the band but had prior commitments though the band is open to working with him whenever he has the time.

BTW – Does anybody know where Abaddon went?

*exhale*

To be honest, I’ve become interested in Venom only in the last year or two. The album I chose to start with was Prime Evil (the debut of the Dolan-era) because I had read it was not as over-the-top with all the Satanic imagery and lyrics as previous Venom releases had mostly been. I ended up liking the album a lot and I would have bought the other three Dolan releases (Tear Your Soul Apart, Temples of Ice and The Waste Lands) if not for the fact that they are out of print and thus very expensive. So to find out that M-pire of Evil existed was very exciting to me. This band’s formation had totally slipped by me in 2010 when it was announced.

This is the band’s debut: a six song E.P. with four covers and two originals. I gotta say, the cover songs are excellent. Not only did they choose four excellent bands to cover (Judas Priest, Motorhead, KISS, AC/DC) but they bring a level of raw power and aggression to these songs that has not been heard before (well, except maybe for “Motorhead”). I especially like their covers of “Exciter” and “God of Thunder”. When someone covers “Exciter”, the singer usually doesn’t have a gruff deep voice like Dolan does. It’s different but that’s why it works.

As for the two original tracks, those are really cool too. It’s really nothing different than what you’d hear on Prime Evil. Two raw thrashy numbers. “Reptile” features some Satanic gibberish chanting that kind of takes points away from the song for me, but musically, it’s a good thrashing number. Had I not just days ago posted my list of favorites E.P.s, Creatures of the Black would’ve been on there.

It seems like a full studio album could be coming very soon in early 2012 and I’m definitely looking forward to it. Fans of the Dolan years of Venom and fans of raw heavy metal in general should pick up Creatures of the Black.

Highlights: “Exciter”, “God of Thunder”, “Creatures of the Black”

http://www.facebook.com/mpireofevil
http://www.mpireofevil.com/

Buy ‘Creatures of the Black’ at Amazon.com

Looking Forward to in 2012…

2012 is shaping up to be another spectacular year for rock music. This is a year that is going to see releases from KISS, Judas Priest, Aerosmith, Van Halen and Black Sabbath. WHAT YEAR IS THIS ?!?

In no particular order, here’s what I’m definitely picking up in 2o12:

AcceptStalingrad (April)
Accept really blew me away with Blood of the Nations. The band has proven there is life without Udo. In fact, I think many people would prefer the current line-up over the classic Accept roster at this point.

Crazy Lixx – Riot Avenue (April)
These solid modern glam-metallers are currently in the studio working on their 3rd album.

KISS – Monster (Spring)
Obviously, this is the album I’m looking forward to most. Sonic Boom was a triumphant return to the studio for these guys, now that the wheels are well-oiled, I think Monster has potential to be even better.

SunstormEmotional Fire (February)
I missed out on the last Sunstorm despite good reviews. In the past year I’ve come to appreciate AOR/melodic rock more so I think I’m going to try out this Joe Lynn Turner-fronted side project when it’s released.

Crashdiet
No date yet set by these sleaze rockers but they are supposedly in the writing process now. I’m guessing sometime in the Fall.

Black Sabbath (Fall/Winter)
Another highly anticipated album for me because I’m really curious what it’s going to sound like. I’m not a big Ozzy fan, either as a solo artist or in Sabbath. I’d much rather see Iommi w/ Geezer go on to new projects (Iommi needs to give Tony Martin another call) but I still will be pre-ordering this one. My expectations aren’t all that high though given who is singing. I feel like he and Sharon are going to bring everyone else down to his mediocre level. Still, it’s exciting to know that new Iommi riffs and solos are coming.

Aerosmith (May)
So much prima donna drama in this camp over the last 5 years or so but hopefully that’s gone long enough to give us a new album. Granted,  I don’t really expect much from these guys in terms of, well… anything anymore. They’re kind of a joke at this point but with the legendary Jack Douglas back on as producer, I have no doubts that he’ll drag something out of them that’s better than the last studio album (2001’s Just Push Play).

Van Halen (February 7)
Geez, it was starting to look like the new Chinese Democracy, wasn’t it? No album title has been released yet but a release date has been and the first single will be released on January 10. Van Halen is another band that has become a joke over the years (despite the last tour getting rave reviews) but I have a good feeling about this album. The first album with Roth since 1984 and 1984! Rumored titles have been The Future and 2012 but I don’t think either will turn out to be true. Maybe IV though..?

Judas Priest
The band hasn’t definitely said a new album is coming in 2012 but they’ve been working on new material for a while now and seem to be looking at 2012 for releasing it. It’s a different songwriting dynamic now though. Instead of Halford/Downing/Tipton, it’s just Halford/Tipton. By all accounts, new guitarist Richie Faulkner is carrying his weight in a live setting so I think the album is going to turn out quite good. I do think it’s time the band delivers a straight ahead metal album though. Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus were good but not excellent. The band really hasn’t given the world that kick-ass classic metal album that they should’ve already done since Halford has come back. They really need a PainkillerHell Bent for Leather or British Steel at this point and keep it simple.

Primal Fear – Unbreakable (late January)
I have heard this album. It’s good. Plan on reviewing it soon.

Mollo/Martin – The Third Cage (late January)
See above. It’s great to have a new album out with Tony Martin on vocals.

Buckcherry
Maybe wishful thinking on my part but they were working on new material this past summer so hopefully something new will appear by next summer.

The Last Vegas The Other Side
No date announced yet but they recently released the free digital Other Side E.P. so I’d imagine we’ll have the new album by the spring.

Slash
His first solo album was one of the best records from the last few years and this time, Myles Kennedy is singing all the songs. Everything is written, all that’s left to do is record the songs so I’m guessing spring for this one as well.

Trans-Siberian OrchestraRomanov: What Kings Must Whisper
The second non-holiday from TSO, it was actually planned to be their first album way back in 1994 but they held on it while trying to get a Broadway musical out of it first. Night Castle was dark and cool while still keeping that trademark blend of metal, rock and classical music, I expect more of the same here.

Dokken
With a deal in place with Frontiers Records for the new album, I’m expecting something special despite never being a huge Dokken fan. Lightning Strikes Again was good enough for me to be interested in a follow-up. The plan, as of this past November, was to have recording completed by February.

Stryper
This album was actually delayed from this past year in favor of recording and releasing the excellent The Covering album of cover songs. According to Michael Sweet, two albums are in the works: the first will be an album of re-recordings (Why? Can we stop this trend, please?)  followed by an album of all-new material written in the same heavy, edgy vein as “God” from The Covering.

M-Pire of Evil
M-Pire of Evil is the renamed Primevil which itself was the reunited late ’80s/early ’90s line-up of Venom that featured Tony “Demolition Man” Dolan on vocals/bass . I’m not well-versed on the comings and goings of the Venom roster but the “classic” line-up is split into two different bands right now. Conrad “Cronos” Lant is leading Venom with a few newer guys while the other two “classic” members (Jeff “Mantas” Dunn & Anthony “Abaddon” Bray) have hooked up again with Dolan for M-Pire of Evil.

They released an EP this past summer called The Creatures of the Black, which was pretty good and I liked the Prime Evil album (the only Venom release I’ve heard from this line-up) so I’m looking forward to a full length album. I couldn’t find anything resembling a release date but going by the band’s Facebook page, it should be soon because they’ve been teasing releasing the album cover.

Tooth And Nail (March)
The band that features 3/4 of the classic Dokken line-up. How does “Wild” Mick Brown still retain a position in Dokken while joining Tooth And Nail? Given Don Dokken’s reputation, you’d think he’d have been fired from Dokken by now. I mean, this band was named after a Dokken album and they’ve gloated over the fact that Don Dokken isn’t in the group (bassist Jeff Pilson will handle vocals). What’s weird is that on the band’s Facebook page, they list current Whitesnake drummer Brian Tichy as a member as well… I guess he’s there for the live shows in case Brown has to go off and play in Dokken?

I’m probably forgetting a few more albums but oh well!

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