Great Metal Albums of 1985: Venom- Official Bootleg


After all these years, I’m still not sure what to make of Venom’s live album, “Official Bootleg.” I guess that after four successful studio albums, that a live album should have been on the cards. It would have been the case with many bands out there. However, the quality of the album makes one wonder how serious they were about recording it. After all, the album was recorded live from the legendary Hammersmith Odeon but it sounds like it could have been recorded in someone’s garage. Reviews I have read on the album suggest the very same thing.

Songs on “Official Bootleg” make for a very strong line up of some of Venom’s classics. Take the much acclaimed “Welcome to Hell” for instance. This ranks among my favourite of Venom tunes but the way it’s played on this album makes me a little glad that I wasn’t at this show when it was recorded. Where in the chorus the title should be screamed, Cronus just doesn’t. There is no oomph to emphasize it and that’s something I really like about the recorded version. That’s another paradox, I’ve seen them live twice and they sound a hell of a lot better than what they do on this live album.

Through the negativity, there are some bright spots on the album. Mantas’s soloing on “Seven Gales of Hell” is quite good because it breaks through the dirge of the album. In addition, Cronus’s vocals can actually be heard on some parts of the song. So, I should say that this is the best song on the album by default but the song does drag on a bit too long. The spoken part on “In Nomine Santanas” is done well and there is a good thrash part right after that bit. However, for top song, I am drawn to “Warhead.” Cronus introduces the song with plenty of enthusiasm and his screams at the beginning are just scary, like it should be. Maybe because it’s a slow song in Venom terms but it just clicks with me. While I have always known what Venom were capable of, the fact that it is better heard on it makes all the difference. Maybe the production team were awake when they recorded this. Things do end on a positive note as “Bloodlust” closes out the album very well indeed.

Track Listing:

  1. Die Hard
  2. Seven Gales of Hell
  3. In Nomine Santanas
  4. Welcome to Hell
  5. Warhead
  6. Stand Up and Be Counted
  7. Bloodlust


Cronus- bass, vocals

Mantas- guitar

Abaddon- drums

Another theory someone suggested is that Venom purposely called for bad production on the album in order to take the piss out of bootleg albums in general. I’ve heard many bootleg recordings and a lot of those are even worse. So it is possible but if I had heard this “Official Bootleg” album before I had actually seen them live in 1986, I might not have gone.

Next Post: Megadeth- Killing is My Business and Business is Good

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