When I first found out about Mpire of Evil, at the time still called Prime Evil, I was extremely looking forward to hearing them. It’s no coincidence that the band initially took its name from a Venom album, since all three of these guys used to be in Venom at one time or another (two of them on the album Prime Evil). I hope that I don’t need to introduce the legendary Mantas to anyone, so I’m just not going to. Demolition Man (or, as his friends call him, D-Man) took over for Cronos on bass/vocals for 1989’s highly underrated Prime Evil album, sticking with the group for two follow-ups, Temples of Ice in 1991, and 1992’s The Wastelands. (I wonder if Mpire plays any of those songs live…) Mpire of Evil’s drummer is none other than Cronos’ little brother, Antton, who was with Venom from 2000’s Resurrection through 2008’s Hell. Considering all that, I wonder if there were any discussions with Cronos about taking the Venom name away from his group. Cronos versus D-Man in a steel cage! The winner gets to call his band Venom! $39.99 on PPV! Order now!! But I digress. I had hoped that Creatures of the Black would bring back the sound and style of the aforementioned Prime Evil LP, which is one of my all-time favorites. (I’ve never spoken to a single person who claims to dislike the album who has actually listened to it.) Unfortunately, we really only have two new songs here, and that’s not much to go on, although the title track shows some promise. The sound is somewhat less polished, which could be perceived to mean “heavier,” but I think that it’s more lack of a budget than anything else. The other four songs are all covers, which is disappointing in and of itself, even if the Mpire guys do inject a little Venom into them here and there. Their versions of Judas Priest’s “Exciter,” and Motorhead’s “Motorhead” are passable, but can’t compare to the originals. So why bother? And holy fuck, if I never hear another take on Kiss’s exhausted “God of Thunder,” no matter how well done, it will be infinitely too soon. The less said about this interpretation of AC/DC’s “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be,” the better. Perhaps it’s unfair to judge Mpire of Evil based on only two songs and handful of
dust covers, but this is what the band chose to release. The legacy of Venom is a deep shadow to try to get out of, but I’ll give D-Man and company the benefit out of the doubt and cautiously check back in with their debut album whenever that happens.
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