Venomous Maximus, Firewalker: Fearful Symmetry

Posted in Reviews on August 13th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

venomous maximus firewalker

Natives of Houston, Texas’ well-populated heavy underground, the dual-guitar four-piece Venomous Maximus distinguished themselves early into their run with their first two EPs, 2010’s Give up the Witch and 2011’s The Mission (review here). Their subsequent debut full-length, 2012’s Beg upon the Light (review here), built upon the momentum they’d gleaned through touring and the response to their shorter offerings, earning a release through Napalm Records — their riotous live show made them an easy sell — and it seemed at the time like the band would issue their next album through that label as well. A quick follow-up was expected after the roll they got on between their EPs and debut LP, but it’s three years later that Firewalker, their sophomore outing, arrives, and it does so through Shadow Kingdom Records.

There has to be some question as to whether that three-year span cost Venomous Maximus in terms of the momentum they had coming out of Beg upon the Light, though they’d hardly been inactive in that time between touring, releasing videos, writing and so on, but to listen to the 10 tracks/46 minutes of Firewalker itself makes it clear the band — guitarist/vocalist Gregg Higgins, guitarist Christian Larson, bassist Trevi Biles and drummer Bongo Brungardt — haven’t missed a step in terms of their approach. Songs like “Dark Waves,” “Angel Heart” and “Fire in the Night” maintain the blend of classic metal precision and darker heavy rock atmospherics, bordering on doom but never quite crossing over, that the first album proffered, and build upon those achievements while further establishing Venomous Maximus‘ sound as distinct from the various influences of which it is constructed.

One could rattle off a list of those influences and come up with names as aesthetically widespread as Celtic FrostMötley Crüe, Uncle Acid and Samhain, but no single outfit or even a grouping of them really comes close to giving Venomous Maximus their due when it comes to the individualized stock they’ve boiled down from those component elements, taking a horror-minded vibe from here and a theatrical sense of drama from there and turning it into the post-“Intro” chug of “White Rose,” which gets the darkened bikerisms of Firewalker moving at a decent clip, setting the tone for what follows in natural sound and a persistent quality of songwriting that will be familiar to anyone who encountered Beg upon the Light.

venomous maximus

They are identifiable, and more so than one might expect for an outfit even on their second record, with Higgins‘ vocals shifting from the proclamations of “White Rose” and “Through the Black” to grittier, more punkish fare by the time the memorable “October 14th” rolls around to follow “Dark Waves” at the end of what’s clearly intended to be side A, Venomous Maximus making no secret of the album’s structure by means of dual intros — “Intro” for the first half, “Firewalker Theme” for the second — and a forward progression that pushes each half of the outing toward its most resonant hook at the end, whether that’s “October 14th” or the finale of the album as a whole, “Take on the Grave.” That’s of course not to take anything away from the surrounding cuts, as the entirety of Firewalker belts out quality craftsmanship that feeds into a full-length flow across its two sides, just to say that Venomous Maximus have a clarity underlying the curling smoke of their malevolence and that all the thrust the album brings to bear leads it to a worthy destination.

Also not to be understated is the band’s attention to detail. Whether showing itself through the tape hiss that seems to pervade the record as a whole to more specific factors like the layered-in acoustics for the second half of “Fire in the Night,” the mad scientist yowl that marks the launch point for “My Machine,”  strange, almost taunting vocals on “Take on the Grave” or the fuzzer tone of “Dark Waves” that sits as well with that song’s ’70s swing as the layered shouts of “Angel Heart”‘s midsection do with its “Looks that Kill”-style riffing. Across the board, Venomous Maximus deliver a cohesiveness of concept and performance that seems in its complexity to justify the three years it took for Firewalker to surface, at the same time completely avoiding any kind of self-congratulatory indulgence and keeping their focus where it belongs: on kicking ass.

As “Take on the Grave” winds itself down and loses the drums, bass and vocals to the ether, the guitar remains to set a final moment of ambience in motion, giving Firewalker an appropriately cinematic conclusion. At the same time, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if — whenever it might surface — Venomous Maximus‘ next record didn’t start off with a similar progression to pick up right where they left off. That’s calling a shot in the dark, maybe, but something about that last minute or so feels just as much like a beginning as an ending, and time will of course tell if it winds up being precisely that. Either way, Venomous Maximus‘ second album should more than thrill anyone who got on board with the first, and it’s bound to turn plenty of new heads in their direction as well, as it grabs and holds attention with likewise ease and poise. They’d probably object to the album being called classy, but it is anyway.

Venomous Maximus, Firewalker (2015)

Venomous Maximus on Thee Facebooks

Venomous Maximus on Twitter

Venomous Maximus on Bandcamp

Shadow Kingdom Records

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audiObelisk Transmission 048

Posted in Podcasts on May 26th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

Click Here to Download

 

Here is the Music Player. You need to installl flash player to show this cool thing!

The second hour starts a little early this time around, and what I mean by that is when you’re like five minutes into hour two and trying to figure out on the tracklisting below what improv-sounding brilliant cut you’re hearing, pay careful attention to when hour one ended. Just 11 seconds from the start of the second half of the podcast. So yeah, that 18-minute wonder gets filed under hour one instead, but it comes with a wink and a nod. I just couldn’t bring myself to file something under hour two without a one at the front of the time stamp, which shows you how sad and compulsive I am because I’ve only been time-stamping these podcasts for two months now. What a dork.

It’s good stuff this. Always is, I suppose, but starting out with Goatsnake into The Machine and then on from there, it builds a flow that makes some sense one into the next in a way that, listening back to it after I put it together, was especially satisfying. Hopefully you agree as you make your way though.

As always, hope you enjoy:

First Hour:
0:00:00 Goatsnake, “Grandpa Jones” from Black Age Blues
0:04:36 The Machine, “Coda Sun” from Offblast!
0:09:55 Galley Beggar, “Pay My Body Home” from Silence and Tears
0:18:51 Steve Von Till, “Night of the Moon” from A Life Unto Itself
0:25:48 Venomous Maximus, “Through the Black” from Firewalker
0:29:42 Black Pyramid, “Open the Gates” from Dead Star 7”
0:34:59 Ape Skull, “A is for Ape” from Fly Camel Fly
0:39:54 Sunder, “Deadly Flower” from Demo
0:43:53 Eternal Fuzz, “Sea Change” from Nostalgia
0:47:37 Geezer, “Long Dull Knife” from Long Dull Knife
0:53:31 Fogg, “Joy of Home” from High Testament
0:59:49 Shiggajon, “Sela” from Sela

Second Hour:
1:18:07 Blown Out, “Thousand Years in the Sunshine” from Planetary Engineering
1:34:01 Les Lekin, “Loom” from All Black Rainbow Moon
1:47:14 Undersmile, “Knucklesucker” from Anhedonia

Total running time: 1:59:00

 

Thank you for listening.

Download audiObelisk Transmission 048

 

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Venomous Maximus to Release Firewalker in May on Shadow Kingdom

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 20th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

venomous maximus

Houston four-piece Venomous Maximus — whom I’d call VenMax if it didn’t sound like a prescription drug; maybe something for the kidney? or beard growth? — have announced the details for their forthcoming Shadow Kingdom Records debut, Firewalker, as well as unveiled the cover, which is part Bathory in only the best way. The record is due out May 5, and it seems reasonable to expect tour dates will follow soon after. VenMax — ask your doctor — hit the road pretty hard in support of their latest outing, 2012’s Beg upon the Light, which also got a reissue through Napalm Records, and I don’t think you call your record Firewalker if you’re not ready to walk across a few coals yourself.

The PR wire brings words, because it knows how much you love words:

venomous maximus firewalker

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS to Release New Album Firewalker May 5

Dark Metal Band Set to Explode with Red Hot New LP

Houston heavy metal band VENOMOUS MAXIMUS will release its new album, Firewalker, on May 5 via Shadow Kingdom Records. The award-winning four piece, who has won back-to-back-to-back titles at the Houston Press Music Awards as the city’s Best Metal Band, recorded the album at the Diamond Factory in Austin, TX with engineer Travis Bonner (Ancient VVisdom). The record was mastered at PLX Mastering by Paul Logus (Satyricon, Clutch, Anthrax), with early reports indicating the band’s new music to be “big, bold and bad ass.”

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is an explosive, unbridled force. The band’s music combines intense, unabashed metal riffing that locks into heavy rock grooves featuring interjected dual leads and surprisingly darkened atmospheres. A live powerhouse, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has toured the U.S. as hand-picked guests of metal legends DOWN, HIGH ON FIRE and PENTAGRAM, and has created a huge buzz as part of both Austin’s SXSW and Fun Fun Fun festivals. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS consistently blows the doors off every venue in its touring path, leaving a whole new contingent of music fans awestruck and hungry for more. The group’s most recent album, Beg Upon the Light, hit with adamantine force, and has met to widespread celebration.

Now, with the impending LP, Firewalker, VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is poised to prove that each and every accolade it has earned since its formation in 2010 is backed with the determination and drive necessary to push modern metal forward in 2015.

“One thing that underground music has been missing for the last 10 years is danger,” says VENOMOUS MAXIMUS vocalist / guitarist Gregg Higgins. “Making this record almost killed us and pissed a lot of people off in the making, but chaos and drama make good art.”

Firewalker track listing:

1.) Angel Heart
2.) Dark Waves
3.) Fire in the Night
4.) Ghost Beast
5.) My Machine
6.) October 14
7.) White Rose

https://www.facebook.com/VenomousMaximus
https://twitter.com/venomousmaximus
http://venomousmaximus.bandcamp.com/
http://store.shadowkingdomrecords.com/

Venomous Maximus, The Mission (2011)

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Venomous Maximus Sign to Shadow Kingdom Records

Posted in Whathaveyou on November 20th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

venomous maximus

Following a release of their 2012 long-player, Beg upon the Light (review here), through Napalm, Houston cult heavy rock four-piece Venomous Maximus have inked a deal to issue their follow-up, Firewalker, on Pittsburgh’s Shadow Kingdom Records. Presumably the new album will be out sometime in 2015, and considering the passion Shadow Kingdom puts into its acts — their love of Corsair is fervent enough that it can be seen from orbit — the fact that they’d even bring the band on board means they’re ready to get in deep. Fair enough. Venomous Maximus are vicious live, and hopefully with Shadow Kingdom behind them, they’ll be able to continue to get out and tour as much as possible.

The PR brought word from the label:

shadow kingdom logo

We have been waiting so long to tell you this great news and now is finally the time to reveal what’s been happening in the SKR camp…

Shadow Kingdom Records is extremely proud and honored to announce the signing of Houston, Texas’ VENOMOUS MAXIMUS.

The name of the band reminds us of the classic Gladiator film where Russell Crowe (aka “Maximus”) was nothing short of a complete madman who would die for his family and country without fear or worry of what might happen to him in the process. VENOMOUS MAXIMUS is very much like that in their attitude and approach to playing music with conviction and without any genre barriers. In VENOMOUS MAXIMUS, we have a band that is interested in writing GREAT, memorable songs that vary in length, tempo, and emotion.

Those whom are familiar with VENOMOUS MAXIMUS’ 2012 Napalm Records release, “Beg Upon the Light”, know what kind of a treat you’re in for. The band’s upcoming new album “Firewalker” is a great continuation of their talents. It’s really rare to find bands that have no barriers and just focus on quality songs. This really takes us back to the beginning of Heavy Metal when BLACK SABBATH would put out records. Some of the jams would be fast and heavy, while others would be slow and powerful. BLACK SABBATH could play any genre because they invented all of the heavy metal genres you hear today and when you hear VENOMOUS MAXIMUS’ music, it reminds us of those same ideals. It’s just GREAT music and you love hearing it.

Gregg Higgins heads this band with his very powerful and commanding vocals and chants that immediately raise fists in the air. There’s an obscure Psych / Rock band (also) in Texas from the 70’s/80’s called “Roky Erickson”. if you’re not familiar, click on these two YouTube links and soak yourself into “Night of the Vampire” and “Stand for the Fire Demon”), and play it LOUD. Gregg’s strong vocals remind us of Roky’s vocals in a way that is so captivating, it literally forces you into their world, and you get lost in the music. With the rest of the band being tighter than two coats of paint, this band can do it all and do it all extremely well! VENOMOUS MAXIMUS can easily become as big as — and share fans with — bands like GRAND MAGUS, HIGH ON FIRE and MASTODON, while not sounding like any of those bands and paving their own “path of doom”.

https://www.facebook.com/VenomousMaximus
http://venomousmaximus.bandcamp.com/

Venomous Maximus, “Path of Doom” official video

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Venomous Maximus Playing Gwar-B-Q Pre-Show and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 18th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

Been a while since we last heard from occult-minded Houston heavy rockers Venomous Maximus, whose stage presence still lingers in my consciousness from when I was fortunate enough to see them last summer. Presumably they’ve been at work crafting the follow-up to 2012’s Beg upon the Light (review here), reportedly dubbed Firewalker, and like any potion worth brewing, these things take time. Not that you were necessarily going to, but you know what I mean.

They did a similar run last year, but for the Texan four-piece, this upcoming round of dates in August is marked out by an appearance at the pre-show for the Gwar-B-Q in Richmond, Virginia, which will be headlined by some band called The Black Dahlia Murder and which also features moody RVA sludgers Gritter. Not a bad spot to wind up.

The PR wire has it like this:

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS Announces U.S. Tour Dates

Houston Dark Metal Band Putting Finishing Touches on New LP Firewalker

Texas heavy metal band VENOMOUS MAXIMUS has announced a string of east coast U.S. tour dates set to kick off on August 7 in New Orleans, LA. As part of the major market jaunt, the award-winning band will perform as part of the 2014 GWAR-B-Q on August 15 in Richmond, VA, also set to feature Ice-T’s Body Count, Hatebreed and more. The upcoming live dates are as follows.

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS U.S. tour dates:

August 7 New Orleans, LA Siberia
August 8 Birmingham, AL Upside Down Plaza (w/ Stoned Cobra)
August 9 Atlanta, GA The Basement
August 10 Johnson City, TN The Hideaway
August 12 Baltimore, MD TBA
August 13 Brooklyn, NY Saint Vitus
August 14 Philadelphia, PA Kung Fu Necktie (Late Show)
August 15 Richmond, VA Broadberry (Gwar B4BQ w/ Black Dahlia Murder)

VENOMOUS MAXIMUS features Gregg Higgins (Vocals, Guitar), Christian Larson (Guitar), Trevi Biles (Bass) and Bongo (Drums).

https://www.facebook.com/VenomousMaximus/
http://www.napalmrecords.com/

Venomous Maximus, “Path of Doom” official video

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