Sunday, October 28, 2012

Black Sunday: Venomous Maximus - Give Up the Witch (2010), The Mission (2011) & Beg Upon the Light (2012)

I grabbed Venomous Maximus' EP, The Mission, back in March of this year following a review on, but settled at the time for the immediate gratification of a download version. Looking to buy their full-length debut, Beg Upon the Light, upon its release this month, I went whole-hog on the band's Big Cartel site and grabbed a wax version of each catalogue item they had to offer.

Important to vinyl presentation, of course, is the visual appeal and Venomous Maximus have established a strong identity thanks to the artwork of Daniel K. Miller. There are no credits on the packaging for The Mission and I am making an assumption that Miller, who is credited for both bookending bits of the catalogue, was responsible for this mad monk masterpiece as well.

As I was late to the party here, I got the third pressing of Give Up the Witch, comprised of 200 copies on yellow vinyl. The title track and B-side, "Living Dead," are on a platter more ochre than yellow and, while it's a shame it isn't closer to the shade on the single-sided foldover, it's a nice, rich tone and still complements the band's other releases well. Likewise, the center label features a killer skull logo rendered in black and silver with its flipside counterpart carrying the tracklisting. Both this 7" and the 12" The Mission, each from Cutthroat Records, feature these labels, a nice touch that didn't carry over to Beg Upon the Light.

The Mission remains as minimal, packaging-wise, as its predecessor and its single-pocket jacket contains the record along with a very thin black-and-white single-sided insert containing only more hooded figures and the band's name. The reverse of the jacket gives the EP's track list along with some fantastic band photographs and my only disappointment exists in the lack of credits for the design and photography. The vinyl itself is a mossy green with traces of reds, yellows and white, predominantly, and looks very similar to the recent full-length debut from Serpentine Path. To be honest, I placed my order quickly and only after I submitted payment did I notice a pink and purple split variation available. As I am a sucker for vinyl that complements its packaging, I definitely would have opted for this version if I had the purchase to make over again.

If Give Up the Witch and The Mission were beautifully minimal masterpieces, Beg Upon the Light gets it all absolutely right. An opaque, bone-marrow red with corpuscular traces of white, black and yellow, the vinyl is rich and warm and, to top it off, is presented in a lush double-gatefold jacket absolutely adorned with detail. A vertically-oriented heaven- and earth-scape rendered in blues, grays and chartreuse gives the listener an abundance of art to pore over, adding in nice touches such as the previously Given-Up Witch amid the throng. The interior's cathedral spires reach skyward to lyric content and a spectacular two-sided insert provides the record's credits as well as another great photo of the band. Beg Upon the Light comes from Occulture Records (on whom I can find absolutely nothing - and wonder perhaps if this isn't the band's own creation).

The band's shop site offers no detail re: pressing quantities and colors for The Mission nor Beg Upon the Light and I wonder if they may not be comprised of random mixes, which some pressing plants will offer with no premium charged over black vinyl. Regardless, I love my instant Venomous Maximus collection and have been enjoying the records themselves all week and, even more, the music contained within.

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