Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Gang-Inject the Venom

Emanes Metal Records

Slightly over a year ago I did a write-up on Gang as part of my French Metal Friday series. To refresh everyone's memory (including my own I'm afraid) here was a band which originally went by the so-so moniker of Gush X (ugh) before making the switch over to the much-improved Gang in 1990. The band's full-length debut-album, "1993"*, ended up appearing some three years later and for this Fismes, Champagne-Ardenne-based band it was only the beginning of what would prove to be a productive career. With a host of good albums ("Unknown But Surely Evil", "Piece Of War", "Dead Or Alive" and "V"), a demo, one (fucking fantastic!) EP of covers and a live album all hanging in this French band's past the first true "taste" of 2014-era Gang would come courteous of the March single, "Dying World". With ten new tracks, the "Dying World" number and one delicious choice of a cover in "If Heaven Is Hell" (Tokyo Blade), "Inject the Venom" is the latest (and greatest?) release from French band Gang and the first full-length LP since 2010's "V". It is also a surprisingly strong statement that not every band that is twenty plus years old has as to suffer the ravages of time (hear that Metallica?). To that end, bands such as Gang actually grow wiser, stronger and (as evident here on album number five for Gang) more creative, technical and downright memorable! Sure, times do change and naturally so do bands. But, here's the thing that threw me about Gang's latest. "Inject the Venom" (which I ended up breaking speed to!) ended up hitting so many different cords that I wasn't even sure it was the same band! Or at least compared to the band I heard on "1993". In a way it is the same band that I obsessed over back in 2013, but they have drastically changed for the better! So, whose who in Gang then? Well, bass player Phitty and rhythm guitarist Steve (aka Sylvain Cotté) are left over from the "good old days", but then you've got "young guns" like lead guitarist Biggy (aka: ex-Gloomy Gherkin' /current Adlib-7 member David Fasquelex) and drummer Malo (ex-Spasmophilius, ex-Gloomy Gherkin, ex-Anarmaniak, ex-Black Caps). To be fair to Malo and Biggy though both of these musicians have been with Gang for sometime now and this is not even close to the first album that the pair has worked on. The same can be said of lead vocalist Bill (ex-Spasmophilius, ex-Gloomy Gherkin, ex-Days of Yore, ex-Dehumanised) as this is not his first rodeo with Gang. It's simply that for Gang it's only bass player Phitty and rhythm guitarist Steve left over from the early days. A small detail yes, but one that I felt inclined to point out. Seeing as "Inject the Venom" is so kick ass and all! Could "Inject the Venom" be the one release that finally brings worldwide attention to these French heavy metal merchants? I'll just say one thing on the subject. If "Inject the Venom" does not present Gang with the breakthrough hit that they so desperately deserve then maybe it's time to reexamine the metal scene as a whole! Gang's new album is an absolute banger! There is just no other way around it and no better way to describe it. "Injecting The Venom" is as good a heavy metal album as they come and for a band that has been going at it since the early nineties it is simply incredible how vibrant it all is! In a way Gang's latest reminds me of Serbian band Annathema and their self-titled 1989 effort. And yes, that is a good thing! For those who do not know the name (or that particular album) Annathema was very much a product of their period. So much so in fact that "Annathema" (another recommend release) was an album with reference points to Judas Priest, Ozzy, Van Halen, Motörhead, Anthrax, Megadeth and Iron Maiden. And yet the band had their own distinct identity! And the same goes for Gang and this highly-recommended album! Early on in "Inject the Venom" you'll find yourself blown away by a band that references the likes of Ozzy, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and even some Bay Area (Metallica/Megadeth) thrash. As the album moves on you are treated to elements of traditional heavy metal, N.W.O.B.H.M, power metal and thrash and while all of that is cool it gets even better. If you are like me in the slightest you will be left in awe as Gang is one of those well-rounded acts that uses rock formulas in their music in order to give everything that extra special edge. It add finesse to everything and when you are blessed with a lead singer like Bill (aka Laurent Bocquet, founder of Thundering Records who sounds quite similar to Harry Conklin ) it all adds up to a listening experience to be treasured and shared! As pleasantly surprised as I was to hear from Gang out of the blue I was even more surprised to find out far this French outfit had come! "Inject the Venom" is highly memorable and moves easily between melodic passages and more upbeat, speed-tinged movements and it's reminiscent of the way classic heavy metal albums used to be. As I'm throwing my horns in the air I'm also slamming down my stamp of approval as "Inject the Venom" is excellent metal for collectors and fans alike!

*"1993" was the album that I previously talked about in my first article on Gang. The monumental difference between "1993" and "Inject the Venom" is beyond unreal. This new album from Gang is truly worthy of praise!

PS: I really dug this album. Wow. From their slick cover of "If Heaven Is Hell" to an original number like "State of Disgrace" Gang's latest simply cannot be beat! I've listened to it now countless times over and I have it on now as I type this! Oh, speaking of "State of Disgrace" it is just unreal how epic this one feels! At about a minute and fifty seconds in a smashing solo kicks in that is out of this world! As metallic as the number is it's amazing how powerful the lead guitar work of Biggy is at this point. Frankly it flat out ROCKS!!!!!

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