Original VENOM Guitarist JEFF 'MANTAS' DUNN On 'Welcome To Hell' Album: 'That Was A Moment Captured In Time'

October 31, 2023

In an interview with Neuborn Open Air festival in Wörrstadt, Germany, original VENOM and current VENOM INC. guitarist Jeff "Mantas" Dunn reflected on the former band's early albums, particularly 1981's "Welcome To Hell", which had a low-budget raw production that many black metal bands took influence from. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET):  "We were never known as the greatest musicians on the planet, but I think what we had was — call it youthful arrogance or whatever. But we just went in and did whatever we did when we went in the studio way, way back then. We had no experience whatsoever. And 'Welcome To Hell', that album, that was actually my first attempt at writing songs. There was no rewrites, there was no rearrangement, we had no Pro Tools, Cubase, Logic. We were given three days to get in the studio and just do it."

He continued: "I've had the question a lot of times: 'Will you ever re-record 'Welcome To Hell'?' The answer is absolutely not, because that album was a moment captured in time. It was three young guys, very inexperienced. We didn't know what the fuck was going on. I went in there with a Marshall JCM800, an ENGL cab, a horrible blue fuzz pedal, a copy flying V, turned everything up to 11 just like 'Spinal Tap' and we went for it. And we've still got that same kind of attitude, although we're more experienced. And I've often said, as a songwriter, it would be nice to get back to that sort of innocence.

"I can vividly remember going into a rehearsal one Sunday morning and going, 'I've got a new song, I've got a new song.' I was so excited about this song. And it was 'Witching Hour'. But now, if I wrote the riff to 'Witching Hour', I would probably press the 'delete' button."

Mantas concluded: "Everything that we did in the past was really simple."

Mantas sat out VENOM INC.'s just-completed U.S. tour after his wife had been diagnosed with cancer. He was replaced on the trek by Mike Hickey, known for his work with VENOM, CARCASS, CATHEDRAL and CRONOS.

In the past, Dunn credited his wife for helping him recover after he suffered a heart attack and underwent a double bypass surgery in May 2018.

VENOM INC. also features another former VENOM member, bassist/vocalist Tony Dolan.

VENOM's classic lineup trio of Dunn, bassist/vocalist Conrad "Cronos" Lant and drummer Anthony "Abaddon" Bray recorded four studio LPs, "Welcome To Hell" (1981),"Black Metal" (1982),"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 Dolan have joined forces in the similarly named VENOM INC.

The Cronos-fronted version of VENOM 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.

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.'s sophomore album, "There's Only Black", was released in September 2022 via Nuclear Blast Records. The follow-up to 2017's "Avé" marks the second recording under the name VENOM INC., while Dunn and Dolan have a long history as recording artists together in VENOM, M:PIRE OF EVIL and Mantas solo projects. It also marks the VENOM INC. recording debut of drummer Jeramie Kling (formerly of MASSACRE),who joined the band in 2018.

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