(TheBRHM.com) We’ve only done one “Head 2 Head” at this point and there are so many bands to compare! This time we’re looking at Motorhead and Venom, two bands with similar sounds and speeds of play. I’m excited about this one since speed metal and thrash are my favorite genres and these two bands are not only ones I enjoy, along with Judas Priest and Deep Purple, they were pioneers of the speed metal genre.
This is a three-round showdown to the finish. In “Head 2 Head” we go by album output, return to form, and consistency. Album input, the lightest round simply relies on the number of full-length releases. Return to form is dicer as it relies on whether there was a period when the band fell off and how strong their return to form was.
Killer album is a just how many banger albums the band has in its discography. Album output and consistency factor heavily into this. Our hat trick category is for a three-album streak of killer albums. Finally, consistency relies on how consistent the band is from album to album.
Album Output: Motorhead
Short work by Motorhead who has 20+ full-length albums to Venom’s 15. This makes since as by the tine Venom dropped its debut Welcome to Hell, the OG bands—but especially Motorhead, who they share a very similar style and power trio make up of a guitarist, drummer, and singer/bass player.
Venom’s frontman, bass player/singer–and only remaining member of the classic line-up—Cronos is considered a pioneer in black metal and thrash. At the time of the band’s first albums, the band was known to be not as clean or tight as many of their contemporaries. As a matter of fact, they played something that was a mix of speed metal and punk.
However, the band’s music had a sinister, atmospheric sound to it in songs like “Countess Bathory” and “Black Metal” where there is dirtiness to their playing. Adding to this is the band’s lyrical focus on Hell, Satan, occult, and so on. Cronos’ sneering, scratching vocals add to the package.
We’ve discussed Motorhead a few times, but they were similar in musical approach. While there are punkish influences in Motorhead’s 70s and 80s offerings, it manifested itself more in the band’s technical approach than in their studio performances.
To me, Venom balanced the two. Up until the band’s 1987 release Calm Before the Storm, there was a heavy punk influence in the Newcastle band’s music in speed, aggression, musical approach, and technical approach.
Because of the breaks and line-up changes starting 1987, there were periods where Venom could’ve produced music and maybe even matched Motorhead’s output.
Best Return to Form: Venom
I can’t really rate this one. Venom had their moments when they seemed to be returning to form but it was just a great album followed by a decent album. I’ll give it to Venom mainly because they had a period to bounce back from and return to form. Motorhead steadily produced within a certain quality range of good to amazing. However, that’s not really a return to form. It’s…
This is a round that readily goes to Motorhead. Led by the late Lemmy Kilmister, Motorhead always maintained a certain level of performance and quality to their albums. With time, production wizardry improved and so did many musical acts’ production quality. This was the same for the band from London. The band began to sound modernized production-wise but maintained what made it Motorhead
Meanwhile, Venom did improve over time and while the raw sound of the first three album were influential, as the decades went on Venom did improve production-wise. The band has continued to evolve its sound as well but the results have proven…there tends to be no definite swing in the positive reception for many albums post-Metal Black.
Motorhead is basically the blueprint for Darkthrone and Sodom’s consistency.
Killer Albums: Motorhead
Another nod to Motorhead. While Venom has three landmark albums, I’d say only Welcome to Hell and Black Metal were the actual killer albums. After that you had The Waste Lands, Metal Black, and From the Very Depths—all staggered across decades. Again, consistency trips Venom up.
Meanwhile, there was never a decade when you didn’t get a least at least a double-tap of killer Motorhead albums.
Hat Tricks: Motorhead
The consistency game saw Motorhead produce a lot of albums each decade, that consistency also resulted in a number of quality albums. Within those quality albums, you can find a triple threat like Ace of Spades, Iron Fist, and Another Perfect Day or Iron Fist?, Another Perfect Day, and Orgasmatron.
You just didn’t really get that with Venom. There was the Welcome to Hell, Black Metal, and At War with Satan hat trick but after that, you saw more double-taps where you had back-to-back killer albums.
Winner: Motorhead (4-1)
This was pretty one-sided affair featuring two of my speed metal favorites. Listening to both bands’ music through the decades, you can really see where the modernization in sound and production added even more bite to their sound but not always with the best result.
Again, you’d get a good double-tap like Metal Black and Hell, then get something that was fine with Fallen Angels, then get something good-to-great like From the Very Depths. Whether it’s fatigue with the sound or something is missing in that third clenching album, Venom after the Dolan-period.
Motohead took it almost each area with only the band’s own consistency eliminating it from a category.
Staff Writer; M. Swift
This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.