If there's a more hotly anticipated album release from a Houston band penciled in for this year than Venomous Maximus' Firewalker, you can bet that it ain't gonna rock nearly as hard. The local metal faves have been working on new music since last year, doling out bits and pieces of the record at gigs near and far. It's safe to say that fans of the group are way past ready to add the new disc (and its sure-to-be-sweet album cover) to their vinyl collections. So where is it?
It's almost done, swears guitarist Christian Larson, and it's coming soon.
"It's being mixed now," he says. "It should be done, mixed and mastered in two weeks, I'm hoping."
Two weeks? That's not so long! Excellent. So, when's it coming out? Well... no one really knows yet.
"Hopefully, it will come out in, I'm guessing, October," Larson says. "The artwork is still getting finished up, and we've been going back and forth on the mixes. It's going to take a little bit longer than we thought it would."
October? Hopefully? Not quite the ultra-definitive answer we were hoping for, but it'll have to do. And hey, could there be a better release date that All Hallow's Eve for Venomous' signature twinge of metallic doom? The Winter Solstice, maybe, but there's no way we're waiting that long!
Part of the holdup may be due to label issues. When we spoke to front man Greg Higgins in November, he sounded confident that Firewalker would be released on Napalm Records, the label with whom the band inked a deal last year. That could still happen, but Larson was a little cagier on the prospect when probed.
"I'm not sure who's going to be putting this one out yet," he says. "We're kind of shopping this one around. We have a good idea what's happening, but it's not for sure yet, so I can't really say anything about it yet."
OK, so we don't know a lot about who's putting the record out, or when. But we do know a bit about what it will sound like! Like any good hard rock/heavy metal band climbing the rungs of the underground ladder, Venomous Maximus is aiming for bigger and badder with this release. Larson says that longtime fans won't exactly be thrown for a loop; it's still the vintage occultism that the band's growing cult has come to love and worship.
"It's the same kind of stuff we do," the guitarist assures. "It's us, but it might be a little bit more Scorpions-influenced. This record is a little more 'rock.' But for the most part, it's us: It's not too much different."
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If you'd rather not wait until October to hear the new tunes, you're in luck. Larson says that the band will be brewing up a blackened batch of the new stuff tonight when the band shares the stage at Fitzgerald's with Pentagram, '70s survivors with whom Venomous Maximus ought to sound right at home.
"I'm really excited about that show," Larson says. "We actually played our second show with Pentagram. It's kind of cool four years later to play with them when we've kind of got our shit together!"
Venomous will take the stage over the weekend with Pentagram in Austin and Dallas, too, before prepping for a quick summer tour next month, the guitarist says.
"In August, we're going up the East Coast," he says. "We're on the GWAR-B-Q in Richmond, Va. We're going to go out there, and we're going to do some shows in, like, Philly and New York and then come all the way south, like Birmingham, New Orleans, that neck of the woods.
"After that, we're just going to figure out when the record's coming out and get all that stuff together," he adds. "Basically, once we get it out, we'll try to figure out some plans on where to go next. Until we get a release date, we really can't plan ahead too far. But we'll definitely be heading out to support it once it comes out."
Well, shucks. Until the album's final mix is completed and a release date is nailed down, it looks like Venomous Maximus will kind of be trapped in limbo.
Trapped in limbo? Actually, that sounds like a pretty badass song idea. You know what? Take your time, boys.
Venomous Maximus play tonight at Fitzgerald's, 2706 White Oak, with Pentagram and Sanctus Bellum. Doors open at 8 p.m.
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