Venom Inc. proves they are still the masters of death metal with a blistering, career-spanning set worthy of their legendary status.
Tuesday evenings are a difficult night to pull a crowd and such was the case on October 11, 2023, when Venom, Inc. came to Raleigh, NC. Those who did come to The Pour House and stay up very late on a school night were treated to a metal show that was far more fun than should be allowed on a Tuesday!
72 Legions opened the evening with a surprisingly strong death metal set that far exceeded expectations for a band that released their debut album just a year ago. Playing music from both their debut album, What A God Could Be, and their recently released 72 EP, their thrashy yet well-composed and complex songs made for an excellent opening set for the evening. Reminiscent of bands such as Revocation but with deeper and more guttural death metal vocals, 72 Legions had a handful of fans in the small crowd but by the end of their set saw everyone in the venue loudly applauding.Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Ringworm took the stage next and with the grace of a fully loaded pickup truck smashing into a concrete wall at full speed, launched into a brutal speedcore-like set. Ringworm is all about straight-line speed. Songs such as “You Want It To” and “No Solace, No Quarter, No Mercy” from their 2023 release Seeing Through Fire are two to three-minute long songs with blistering speed and energy that perfectly summarizes their entire set. Worsening a case of tinnitus was never more worth it, Ringworm’s raw energy and breakneck speed blew away the now almost one third full venue. Satan originally hails from Newcastle, England, and began recording music in the early 1980s. After years of lineup changes, name changes, and modifications to their sound, Satan took the The Pour House stage and delivered an amazing old-school heavy metal set. Vocalist Brian Ross engaged the audience multiple times during the set, expressing his fandom for Doctor Who and bantering with several audience members before closing out the evening with genuine, heartfelt appreciation for the audience in attendance. Most members of the band remained in the venue and were completely approachable and graciously shook hands with every fan who approached.
Satan’s set included songs from most of their discography including “Into The Mouth of Eternity” from Atom by Atom, “Testimony” from Life Sentence, and “Alone in the Dock” from their 1983 debut, Court in the Act. The band’s energy remained consistent and strong throughout their set and they brought everyone in the audience to life with cheers, fists in the air, and singing along.For the roughly one hundred-person strong audience, it was a rare opportunity to experience such a legendary and influential band as Venom Inc. in such a small venue. Massively important to the entire black metal genre, Venom Inc. commanded the room with an ease only the best, most exceptional bands are able to conjure. Song after song, Venom Inc. didn’t work to prove their legendary status, it was just somehow inherently obvious.
Their sound and their on-stage persona were just effortlessly masterful. Former Venom guitarist Mike Hickey joined them for this Better To Reign In Hell 2023 Tour, filling in for current guitarist Jeff Dunn who sat out the tour to care for an ailing family member. Mike was in perfect sync with bassist and vocalist Tony Dolan and drummer Jeramie Kling. The trio performed with seamless precision as if they had been together for decades.
The eighteen-song Better To Reign In Hell 2023 Tour set opened with “Witching Hour” and included favorites such as “Black Metal,” “Don’t Burn The Witch,” and a blistering version of “Welcome To Hell.” Closing the evening with “Countess Bathory” from their second album Black Metal which gave name to the entire black metal genre, the setlist pulled from the entirety of Venom and Venom Inc. incarnations of the band.
After experiencing a car crash earlier in the day on their way to Raleigh, NC, Venom Inc. and the full bill of bands delivered an amazing evening of music. From start to finish, the Better To Reign In Hell 2023 Tour is one not to be missed. Every fan of black metal, death metal, and hardcore should experience these legendary bands who are still on the top of their game.