In a new interview with Metal Hammer magazine, VENOM frontman Conrad "Cronos" Lant said that the chances of a reunion of the band's classic lineup — also featuring guitarist Jeff "Mantas" Dunn and drummer Anthony "Abaddon" Bray — are "less than zero. I owe them nothing, and they've got nothing I want," he added. "We still get fans saying, 'The VENOM legions want the old lineup back together.' We tried in the '90s and it wasn't well received. The last thing I want to do is get onstage with those other two doddery old fuckers and put on a subpar performance. I'm getting better album sales now, so why the fuck would I want to go back to that? I just want VENOM to be great."
Asked if he feels sad that there's no relationship between the three of them now, Cronos said: "Yeah, of course it's sad. But we had a blast, and I'll cherish those memories."
Earlier this year, Dunn said that he would like to see the classic VENOM lineup celebrate the 40th anniversary of the band's "Black Metal" album.
Released in 1982, "Black Metal" is considered a major influence on thrash metal and extreme metal in general. VENOM's second album proved influential enough that its title was used as the name of the extreme metal subgenre of black metal. The band classic lineup trio of Dunn, Lant and Bray recorded two further studio LPs, "At War With Satan" (1984) and "Possessed" (1985),and live album, "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" (1986). Often cited by bands such as METALLICA, BEHEMOTH, CELTIC FROST and MAYHEM as major influences, they are one of the most revered bands of their generation. VENOM is still fronted by Cronos and headlines festivals all over the globe and continues to release new music while Dunn and former VENOM bassist/vocalist Tony "Demolition Man" Dolan have joined forces in the similarly named VENOM INC.
Dunn spoke about a hypothetical VENOM celebration during an interview with Artists On Record Starring ADIKA Live! He said: "If you think that of impact and the influence that this band has had and our place, our place in musical history is secure. When people talk about heavy metal and influential bands in heavy metal, VENOM's always gonna be up there somewhere. We might not be top of the list, but we're gonna be there somewhere. And to have had that much impact and to have that much reverence from your peers; everybody knows the name 'VENOM.' And every anniversary of this band has gone past and it has never been celebrated. And that is one of the reasons that we, as VENOM INC. now, we're doing the 40th anniversary; we're doing the 'Black Metal' shows.
"There was one point… I do this Facebook Live thing twice a week — Monday and Friday. It's become a bit of a fun thing to do and just interact with people. That's all it is; it's nothing major. And people are asking about the 40th anniversary of 'Black Metal' and just the anniversaries of the band in general; that was just one of those things. And it actually did cause a bit of conflict within the VENOM INC. ranks as well, because there was things taken out of context. And the one big thing that was taken out of context was when Blabbermouth decided to just put one headline up. I was, like, 'Oh, come on, man.' And the headline was, 'Mantas wants the original VENOM to get back together.' [Editor's note: The actual headline was 'Original VENOM Guitarist MANTAS Wants Band's Classic Lineup To Reunite For 'Black Metal' 40th-Anniversary Celebration'.] And I was, like, 'That's not what I said, for fuck's sake. Watch the video to see what I said.' What I actually said was — and myself and Tony from VENOM INC., we had had a conversation about this the day before, saying it's sad that all of the members who've ever been part of this shit-show circus can't get together — not just the originals, but everybody; everybody's period of that band — and do a celebration festival just devoted to VENOM and bring on guest players or whatever. But every era of the band is represented. So what Cronos is doing now; he plays a few hit songs with his band. What VENOM INC. is doing; we play a few songs. Then you have the 'Prime Evil' era, when it was myself and Tony and Abaddon, and then Al Barnes [rhythm guitar] was involved as well. And then you could have the 'Calm Before The Storm' era where Mike Hickey and Jim Clare were involved as the guitarists. And it would culminate, obviously, with the original lineup coming on stage and playing some of the classic songs. And that was an idea that was just thrown out there. But I actually did say, 'If anybody's watching this, then get in touch. You're not gonna get any apologies from me because what I've said is true.'"
Mantas added: "I've heard so much bullshit on the Internet and in interviews [with other VENOM members] and stuff, and I was, like, 'What planet did this happen on? What dimension were you in when this was happening?'"
According to Mantas, none of the former members of VENOM contacted him about a possible 40th-anniversary celebration after his original comments were published by BLABBERMOUTH.NET. "There was nothing," he said. "There was no reachout. There was nothing at all. And I mean, the original lineup did come [back] together in '95, '96, and it lasted a couple of years, and then it just went again. But it is very sad to think that a band that has had that much impact can't be celebrated. So that's why as VENOM INC., we are celebrating it."
During the aforementioned Facebook Live chat, which took place in late February, Dunn called upon Lant and Bray to come together with him for some sort of a VENOM celebration, saying: "I'll never retract anything I've said, because I'm sorry but it's true. Regardless of what him or him thinks, it's true; it's just as simple as that. I'm not gonna go out there and blatantly talk a lot of bollocks like one of us did. What I've said is absolutely true, and I've put it in print — into the book as well. It's there. It's absolutely true. But we're at that age now — I'm 60; Bray's, like, 61; Conrad's what — 58, 59? We've just been through a massive fucking pandemic where nobody's done anything. We've got fucking a war in Europe at the minute. [All the issues we've had with each other], it fucking pales into insignificance; it's fucking bollocks.
"Like I say, I'll never fucking say 'sorry'; I'll never fucking turn around and go, 'Yeah, well, I didn't fucking mean that,'" he continued. "What I said was fucking true. But we missed the 25th anniversary. We didn't celebrate the 30th anniversary. And it's, like, for a band who had such a fucking impact… And, again, my friends, I still find it difficult to take in myself, people saying…
"When I did the interviews for the 40th anniversary of 'Welcome To Hell' — there's another anniversary we fucking missed; nothing done about it; it just passed," Dunn added. "But the thing was, I got these interviews in, and people were saying to me, 'You just don't realize the importance of what you did.' I don't, because I suppose we were so close to it. I've said it a million times — I was just a fucking kid writing tunes in my fucking bedroom living with my mom, and I was lucky; people fucking dig them.
"But it's, like, could we not just fucking celebrate this for once? I mean, fucking hell — I've already died once. And fucking you haven't got long, and you haven't got long, because I know what you've fucking done to yourselves."
Addressing the fact that VENOM INC. was going to commemorate "Black Metal"'s 40th anniversary by performing it in its entirety on October 2 at the Keep It True festival at Posthalle in Würzburg, Germany, Dunn said: "When the Keep It True thing came along, I thought, 'Yes! Yes! I'm gonna fucking do it.' Because no one fucking else is. Nobody else is gonna go out there and celebrate this fucking album — monumental fucking album. It should be fucking celebrated."
Dunn, Bray and Dolan released three albums as VENOM between 1989 and 1992 — "Prime Evil" (1989),"Temples Of Ice" (1991) and "The Waste Lands" (1992).
VENOM INC. is not to be confused with the aforementioned Cronos-fronted version of VENOM, which is continuing to tour and make albums under the VENOM moniker. Joining Cronos in that group are Rage (a.k.a. Stuart Dixon) on guitar and Danté (a.k.a. Danny Needham) on drums.