During the rise of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, Venom emerged as a distinct and influential force. Their sound, a fusion of Motörhead’s grit and a dark, intense vocal style reminiscent of a hellish outcry, marked a stark departure from contemporary metal trends. Venom’s unique approach laid the groundwork for the thrash metal movement, a fact later acknowledged by Metallica’sKirk Hammett, despite his initial reservations about the band.
Metallica, heavily influenced by Venom in their early days, initially found elements of Venom’s style somewhat over-the-top. Hammett once described Venom as akin to a “bad horror movie,” suggesting that enjoying their music required a suspension of disbelief and a willingness to embrace a lower standard of quality. Hammett said in an interview with the Toucher & Rich show,
“Love ’em. Maybe [they were super corny]… I don’t know. Speaking very realistically and soberly, you know – why would I do something like that? With Venom, they’re just like a bad horror movie. You suspend your disbelief, you lower your quality a little bit. And once you do that, you’re in for a really great time. And that’s how I see Venom.”
Venom, comprising members like Cronos, didn’t shy away from this characterization. Cronos likened Venom to a melting pot of their favorite bands, blending the stage presence of KISS, the lyrical depth of Black Sabbath, the speed of Motörhead, and the aesthetic of Judas Priest. He acknowledged Venom’s role in shaping thrash but refrained from claiming full credit, seeing the genre’s emergence as an inevitable response to the stagnation in punk and metal.
As Metallica’s fame soared, Cronos expressed pride in his band’s influence on the metal scene. He observed that Metallica’s debut album bore similarities to Venom’s work, serving as a foundation from which Metallica evolved their distinctive style.
In an interview with Toucher & Rich, Hammett reflected on Venom’s impact, balancing his critique with an appreciation for their unique contribution to metal. Venom’s frontman Cronos, in a more recent interview with EMP Live, acknowledged Metallica’s hard work and stylistic evolution, noting the significant influence Venom had on them and other emerging bands in the metal genre. Cronos said,
“They put in the hard work, and they did eventually develop their own style. People say that first Metallica album sounds like the first Venom album. That’s where they started to get their ideas from. Then they developed their own style and went out, put a lot of hard work in, and fucking the rest is history. So it’s great that they started off wearing ‘Welcome to Hell’ shirts. We used to find it really difficult finding bands to tour with, because there wasn’t a lot of bands like us. So when the Metallicas and the Slayers and the Exoduses, when they came along, it was great, because then we could put a package together that we knew the crowd would be into.”
Venom’s legacy, therefore, is twofold: not only did they help define a genre, but they also inspired a generation of musicians to explore new boundaries in heavy metal, a testament to their lasting impact on the music industry.