The caustic attitude of Venom Prison’s Animus is its guiding light, violent tendencies and condemnation of humanity given through an antsy blend of hardcore and death metal. “There is no cure for civilization,” lead vocalist L (all the band members go by individual letters) barks out at a point during the aptly-titled “The Exquisite Taste of Selfishness.” That track is part of a string of relentless battering that consumes the majority of the album’s 35 minutes.
What’s made clear after listening to Animus is that Venom Prison are pissed off, and they could care less who they go after. Whether it’s religion, government, sexual abusers or our failings as a species, each subject is approached in the most forceful manner possible. Two-minutes slabs of aggression act as padding against the real highlights in longer cuts “Immanetize Eschaton” and “Womb Forced Animus.”
In these tracks, the tempo is halted slightly, enough to allow for more lead guitar work and toying with harsh vocal harmonies. Just because the speeds are leveled out doesn’t take away from the punishment; in fact, it reinforces the album’s confrontational nature. The group is single-minded in their devastation, though brief forays into cleaner instrumental tones on “Corrode the Black Sun” prove there’s more hiding underneath the band’s grimy roots.
Animus has one big thing going for it, and that’s the focus Venom Prison puts on giving their sharp views an appropriate musical platform. That platform has room to grow, and needs to in order to avoid jumping in quality, as Animus tends to do. There’s nothing outright terrible on Animus, but picking the tracks that stand out and the ones that wiz by without any impression left behind is easy to do.
(released October 14, 2016 on Prosthetic Records)