WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON | PHOTOS: JAKE OWENS

When Venom Prison self-released their first demo EP ‘Defy The Tyrant’, guitarist and songwriter Ash Gray admits he had “no expectations” of achieving anything. “It was just essentially me and Larissa [vocalist Larissa Stupar] sat there going ‘do you wanna write a demo for a metal band?’” Now, five years later, the band are putting out ‘Primeval’, an entire album comprising of re-recorded, re-imagined, and re-mastered versions of all the tracks on that original demo EP, as well as follow up EP ‘The Primal Chaos’, plus two completely new songs. “There’s a reason why that demo in 2015 sounds like it sounds, because we didn’t have any money or anything to go and do it, so to do these songs justice and bring them a new life has been quite nice…to relive those songs a bit and go like ‘oh, that’s how it sounds when we do it properly.’” 

The versions of the tracks on ‘Primeval’ are how the band always envisioned them to sound, and comparing one recording to the other, you can really see and hear how the band has developed over time. “It’s nice to listen back to it and compare them, and having a chance to hear it with a new life.” Inevitably though, when revisiting those old tracks, they noticed mistakes they’d glossed over or ignored, or sections they felt could have been done better or improved upon. “We polished certain sections…there are a few added layers…and I remember kind of sitting there going ‘is this a bit much, are we defeating the object’ but no, this is meant to be a chance to give these songs a new light. So we didn’t really hesitate. Solos are different, vocal phrasing is a little bit different on certain sections but on the whole we tried to keep it the route of the originals as much as we could.” 

“I think a lot of people get mixed up with ‘organised religion’ and ordinary people having faith or spirituality...”

One of the main singles off the record is the reworking of ‘Defy The Tyrant’, a huge epic track with some heavy anti-established religion vibes going on, although it’s referencing a very specific type of religious person/organisation. “You’d be amazed how many don’t pick that up,” laughed Ash. “I think a lot of people get mixed up with ‘organised religion’ and ordinary people having faith or spirituality.” He also pointed out that “a Venom Prison song without a message isn’t a Venom Prison song. It’s always been a thing with us. It wasn’t really set out to be that way it’s just the people in the band are that way inclined.” There’s obviously a lot of inspiration for those kinds of songs in the world at the moment as well. “I don’t think we’ll ever run out of subjects.”

Revisiting the tracks not only filled them full of nostalgia for those early days though, but also helped the band to find a new appreciation for those old songs and informed upon their newest songwriting. “I think it opened my eyes to a lot of things,” Ash reflected, talking about that certain style and sound they had on those original EPs. “We never ever went back to anything like that, but we started with that…and I think that was the turning point which then leads to those two new songs.” Ash then went on to describe those two new tracks as “an indication of where album three might be going.”

“things could change…”

“Working on album three is primarily what they’ve been doing during lockdown as well as “trying to find ways to make everything tick over” during these weird times. “We’ve been doing these livestream shows and being a bit more social media interactive than we used to….I think we’ve learnt a lot from all of this, there’s definitely been some positives.”

Despite those positives though, they’re of course keen to get back on the road and touring as soon as safely possible, having announced some tentative UK & Europe touring dates for January and February 2021. “Things could change…We can just keep postponing until it’s ready to go. But we need to get back on the road. We’re so bored!” With support from Creeping Death and Leeched, the band is hoping to start the tour 22nd January in Birmingham. Fingers crossed. 

PRIMEVAL IS OUT OCTOBER 9TH VIA PROSPHETIC RECORDS

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