Some three decades ago while young metalheads were hanging out in hole-in-the-wall record shops (remember those?) and pitching tents in their knickers over the likes of Saxon, Iron Maiden, Raven, Motörhead and such, a dark new sound was fermenting in Newcastle upon Tyne. That’s in the U.K. for the geographically challenged among us. Note quite as prodigiously talented as some of their NWOBHM brethren, a
quintet, quartet, trio of rough and tumble music lovers decided to push metal into an extreme new direction. Led by former Guillotine guitarist Jeff ‘Mantas’ Dunn, Venom was born, and with the band’s second album, Black Metal, the seeds of a new sub-genre were planted.
Now more than 30 years later, Dunn and former Venom protégé Tony “Demolition Man’ Dolan, the duo who helped churn out 1989’s masterpiece, Prime Evil, have rejoined forces to create a new empire. The M-Pire Of Evil. Dunn and Dolan reconnected to make, not an off-shoot of Venom, but rather a new straight up metal band with no pretense, and no boundaries. One time Venom drummer Anthony ‘Antton’ Lant completed the trio, who recorded and released last year’s teaser EP, Creatures of The Black. The EP featured two original songs and four covers, marking the band’s longtime influences. You can read our review of the EP here.
The band completed the debut album, Hell To The Holy with Mantas producing. The album is set for release on March 26th, 2012 in Europe and April 10th, 2012 in North America on Scarlet Records. Cover artwork was handled by Gyula Havancsák (Annihilator, Destruction, Grave Digger). Hell To The Holy taps into all the power and ferocity of the trio and their collective inspirations and influences. It is a mean motherfucker of a metal album, steeped in tradition and thick guitars, and Dolan’s fierce and dynamic vocal barrage.
After the album’s recording was complete, Lant realized he could not commit to the touring schedule the new band would demand, so he stepped aside. For their forthcoming world tour with Onslaught, the band added young skin crusher Marc Jackson of Beyond The Grave.
Last weekend I had an opportunity to chat with both Mantas and Demolition Man about damn near everything metal related, from the Venom years, to M-Pire of Evil, the EP, the debut album, Lant’s departure, and much more. We spoke of Venom‘s place in the history of metal, and we talked about our favorite metal albums, and how they came to influence us. Grab a pint and get comfortable as these two love to talk, and we spoke for a solid and entertaining hour.