Venomous Maximus, “Give Up The Witch”/”The Living Dead”

Venomous Maximus,

Yeah, I know I’m way, way behind on this one… For some reason, the debut 7″ from metal dudes Venomous Maximus has just taken a little while to grow on me. I’m not entirely sure why — this stuff is really and truly up my alley, especially lately, when my car’s stereo practically lives on a diet of Red Fang, Priestess, and The Sword. I’d put it in there and listen, expecting to love it outright, but it just didn’t click, at least not immediately.

In the end, I think it’s drummer Bongo who won me over; try as I might, I just can’t get that stomping, crushing, heavy-yet-not-bassy rhythm on A-side “Give Up The Witch” out of my damn head. Once I was sucked in, I found myself grinning and nodding along, mentally ticking off a big list of all my own metal heroes as I listened. This is the sound of a bunch of guys who I’d bet came up listening to and loving classic metal, from Sabbath to Metallica to Maiden, and they fly that influence proudly, holding it over their collective heads like a flag.

In doing so, they call to mind all three of those bands I mentioned above, especially The Sword, considering the subject matter of “Witch” (it’s about, duh, a witch). B-side “The Living Dead” is a little more contemporary, less in the fantasy-metal vein, but hell, even then it’s nicely busy and bluesy, closer to Red Fang or Early Man than the previous track.

Now, I know it’ll sound strange, but to me the coolest thing about this 7″, honestly, is that the Venomous Maximus guys know when not to overdo it. I hear a crap-ton of metal each week, and far, far too much of it is bruisingly heavy and overloaded, with growly, unintelligible vocals crammed into my ears so deep they give me a freaking headache. I’m all for dynamics and up-front production and all that, definitely, but sometimes it’s really just a distraction.

Not here, though — for being a heavy, sharp-edged slab of metal, the record is relatively clean and straightforward, sound-wise. On both songs, I can make out every damn word frontman/tattoo artist Gregg Higgins is bellowing into the mic, every twisting, distorted riff that comes out of Christian Larson’s guitar, and even the surprisingly melodic little bass bits Trevi Biles throws into the mire on “The Living Dead.” And that’s very cool, at least to me.

So there you go. Late though I am in saying it, yeah, I’ll admit it: I’m fucking loving these guys.

(Postscript: Oh, and I feel like I need to clear up a previous misconception about the band’s name, or maybe one of the dudes in the band will kidney-punch me some night at Rudz or whatever… “Venomous Maximus” is/was apparently the name of a tattoo soldiers used to — and maybe still do, for all I know — get, and that, not the G.I. Joe character, is where the name came from. What can I say? I’m a big ol’ toy nerd who hates needles, so my brain immediately went to the one and not the other. Sorry for the slight, y’all; it definitely wasn’t intentional.)

[Venomous Maximus is playing 5/6/11 at Rudyard’s, along with Dixie Witch, Wildfires, & TeXXXas.]
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Review by . Review posted Friday, May 6th, 2011. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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2 Responses to “Venomous Maximus, “Give Up The Witch”/”The Living Dead””

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Farewell to KTRU + Phosphorescent (Revd!) + Yppah + Venomous Maximus (Revd!) + Wilco + More on February 3rd, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    […] Metal dudes, you’ve got your pick tonight. Fans of the death metal side of things can head out to Hullabaloos on Hwy 3, wherever the fuck that is, for D’struxion Dethday Assault II, which includes a ton of bands with entertaining names. Personally, I’d stick closer to the Montrose and hit Rudyard’s instead, where Dixie Witch are headlining a show that also includes the very cool Venomous Maximus. Much more old-school, less Cookie Monster, you know the deal; check out a long-awaited review of the debut VM 7″ over here… […]

  2. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: Haute Wheels + Smoking Popes + Art Institute + Middlefinger(!) + Crawfish Fest + Venomous Maximus + More on June 23rd, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    […] mostly on the strength of their grown-on-me 7″, “Give Up the Witch” — see over here for a somewhat late-coming review of […]

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