Metal Hammer editor Merlin Alderslade on Venom Prison's Animus
Our online editor Luke Morton has a hell of an ear for brilliant, disgustingly heavy new bands, so when he said he’d been sent a kickass debut album by a young death metal band from Wales that we all needed to check out, we duly obliged.
What we didn’t expect was to discover that not only was Animus one of the best releases of 2016, but that in Venom Prison, we have a band armed to turn some of the stereotypes of the extreme metal scene on their heads.
Fronted by Russian-born screamer Larissa Stupar, whose paint stripping roars mark her out as one of the most talented young metal singers around, the band sound like Cannibal Corpse powerbombing Slayer into a volcano.
And, while I can appreciate that, in this age, it’s a bit cringe to pull the “death metal + female singer = OMG” angle, Larissa’s influence is writ large upon both the album’s themes (oppression, sexism and misogyny all up front and centre), and its gruesome cover.
Inspired by the crushing track Perpetrator Emasculation, the illustration depicts a rapist being force-fed his own mutilated junk by three women.
As Larissa explained in a Hammer interview, it fits death metal’s rich heritage of gory artwork while serving as a repost to the uneasy presence of rape as lyrical subject matter within death metal culture.
That, and the album fucking slams. Proof that extreme music still has as much ability as ever to serve up something new.
Merlin Alderslade (@Merl_Hammer)
Editor, Metal Hammer