PICK OF THE WEEK: Venom Prison switch focus inward, intensify death metal chaos on ‘Samsara’

Life is chaos. For many people, things are not good, and they’re only getting worse. Every time my eyes open in the morning, I expect to see headlines about how the news has gotten shittier, world leaders more deranged, and some fragments of society have no idea how to treat other human beings and don’t really give a fuck about it.

“Samsara” is the name of Venom Prison’s destructive second record, and it also happens to be a Buddhist concept of being reborn into an endless cycle of punishment and pain. For people who constantly have to fear who they are, face unnecessary hurdles in life, or simply struggle for the betterment of society, life can be samsara every single day. It’s a pattern that not only never relents but also never ends. Venom Prison have taken up for the those suffering in society and especially for women who are in a non-stop battle for respect and equality. This time around, the songs have turned more inward, while also keeping in mind the battles that remain, and musically, the band has heavily amped up the hellish death metal proponents of their music. The band—vocalist Larissa Stupar, guitarists Ash Gray and Ben Thomas, bassist Mike Jefferies, drummer Joe Bills—has gone from aggressive to war-torn, and the 10 tracks blasted over 41 minutes are harsh, deadly, and a goddamn, outright assault.

“Matriphagy” opens the record with wails that collide with a death crunch, vicious cries and growls from Stupar, and an assault that’s skull-dragging. The track settles some for a moment before screams rip over the top, and things comes to a fiery end. “Megillus & Leana” has shrieks and growls trading off as a death-thrash pace unleashes and overwhelms whatever is in front of it. The shrieks hammer while guitars glimmer before the drums outright piledrive (the drumming is super stellar throughout), the band hits a sludgy breakdown, and the savagery turns bones to powder. “Uterine Industrialisation” is mashing and fast, a total death smear that confronts guitars slicing through its gates. Heat accumulates as the growls strike fear, and the track comes to a brutal, smothering end. “Self-Inflicted Violence” has drums pounding relentlessly, Stupar’s growls turning raspier, and the pace driving terror into the hearts of the oppressors. Guitars circle with menace, bringing annihilation, while weird guitar tones bring vertigo, and the track ends in psyche hallways. “Deva’s Enemy” is a brief instrumental piece with synth waves, cavernous noise, and the intensity feeling like it’s about to burst all over again.

Then that happens exactly on “Asura’s Realm,” where cool guitars set up a complete launch, with bloodthirsty madness stretching its fingers. The guitars splatter while the tempo races, while bone-crunching playing and Stupar’s authoritative howls send shivers. “Sadistic Rituals” is punchy as hell as the drums spill pain, the pace swelters, and the track speeds up before leaning back into the heat. The playing bleeds heavily, with Stupar’s vocals chewing on your veins and bruising your eyes, and the track bleeding out after driving up a body count. “Implementing the Metaphysics of Morals” has stabbing vocals and Stupar howling, “Your system’s failing,” as the band directs its rage. The track is made up of speedy slashing and rumbling rhythm, while the clubbing display is colored a deep red by screams that pierce flesh and a noise cloud that hangs over the end. “Dukkha” has a bizarre haze at first before the playing mashes and the growls incinerate. The guitars swim through chaos while the shrieks instill a greater sense of terror inflicted in their enemies, the guitars boil over, and the heat damages flesh. “Naraka” ends the record with gazey guitars that hypnotize before the hammers drop, and the band takes on a hardcore edge. The earth thunders while the band stands strong, as Stupar’s vocals slice and dice, and then things go into sci-fi-style strangeness. Heads spin as the playing refuses to relent, Stupar blasts you in the chest, and the track burns out in a cloud of charred ash.

Venom Prison have waged war against societal woes looking to keep people under the boots of control, and now they’ve applied that to a more personal standpoint on “Samsara.” The band delivers a smothering beating that’s intense and monstrous, like the music is trying to tear out the insides of the machine. This is a band taking a bloody, devastating step forward and doing it with poise, razor-sharp violence, piss, and vinegar.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/venomprison/

To buy the album, go here: https://store.prostheticrecords.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.facebook.com/prostheticrecords

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