RECORD REVIEW – Samsara by Venom Prison

Have you ever wondered what the sound of an impeding apocalypse might sound like?

Well it might sound a bit like Venom Prison’s second offering Samsara.

The title of the new record from the five-piece is derived from the Buddhist concept of being reborn into a never-ending cycle of suffering, which is very apt.

The band do not skimp or cut corners on their abrasive and unapologetic approach to death metal, a genre which many may feel has become stale, but Venom Prison seem to have brought new life to it.

Within seconds of opening track ‘Matriphagy’ you are pummelled by shredding guitar riffs and just the most insane drum fills before vocalist Larissa Stupar comes shrieking in to add the cherry on top of this ferocious cake.

If the opening track is a statement of intent, then the rest of the record follows suit.

Venom Prison made a mark on the UK metal scene with their debut album Animus, but this time it feels like there is no holding back from the band, they want to be in your face screaming and won’t be saying I’m sorry while doing so.

If Stupar’s words are one leading a narrative – she roars “Suffocated, stoned to death / Paid with life for homophobic laws” on track ‘Megillus & Leana’ – it is the craft of guitarists Ash Gray and Ben Thomas whose interweaving for shredding, squealing and just bat shit crazy riffs add the perfect backdrop.

Even though in your face, in Samsara Venom Prison really show their technical craft, with really intricate rhythms sown into tracks like ‘Sadistic Rituals’ and ‘Dukkha’.

As well as the music being displaying an absolute masterclass of the genre from the bands first outing, Stupar’s performance seems to have improved tenfold, with a a thicker tone to her growls, more vitriol in her shrieks and a greater sense of personality and presence throughout.

When it comes to death metal there is still a preconception that it is all about bloody death and violence. Venom Prison touch upon this but they flip it on its head addressing issues such as sexual assault, depression and self-harm or political corruption, the band are leading the line in what could be an interesting new dawn for the genre.