Venomous Concept, The Good Ship Lollipop (Decibel Records, 2023)

If you're a grindcore head like myself, Venomous Concept shouldn't be new to you.

The project was formed by bassist Shane Embury (Napalm Death, Unseen Terror, Brujeria) and vocalist Kevin Sharp (Brutal Truth, Lock Up, Primate) in the early '00s.

Throughout their discography, Venomous Concept has featured various musicians entering and exiting their lineup, and for their latest album, The Good Ship Lollipop, that hasn't changed.

This time out, Embury and Sharp are joined by guitarist John Cooke (Napalm Death) and drummer Carl Stokes (Cancer) in the studio.

“We all loved so much other kind of punk and rock, so why not explore that which is, in essence, closer to our hearts," Embury explained in the promotional materials for the album. "To do the same album over and over again would be boring.”

Diving into the record, you're welcomed by its title track, a Killing Joke-like slow burn of a track that features an anthemic chorus cutting through. Sharp's delivery remains gruff but there's a punchy clarity to what he's doing on the song that fits nicely.

Things get faster on "Timeline," the album's second cut. This one's got a driving rhythm pushing throughout it, and some desert rock vibes creep into the fray, largely due to Cooke's guitar lead runs. Grindcore this isn't!

The hard rock flavor shows up a bunch on The Good Ship Lollipop, and Venmous Concept are good at it. When I say "hard rock," I mean somewhere in the Corrosion of Conformity vein when Karl Agell was still fronting the band in the Blind era of the group. It's got balls yet it's catchy.

Another good example of what I'm talking about above can be heard on "Voices," a single from the album:

There are also moments on The Good Ship Lollipop that are closer to the speedy tempos the musicians in Venomous Concept are so closely associated with. "So Sick" is the best example of that on the album. But those instances are few and far between on the record.

In "Flowers Bloom," Venemous Concept even penned the kind of song that wouldn't sound out of place on an '80s goth rock dance mixtape. I can dig it.

If you're looking for the golden age of Earache Records grindcore, The Good Ship Lollipop ain't the one. But if the more infectious side of the aforementioned Killing Joke discography is up your alley, the gentlemen of Venomous Concept got you covered. 

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Tagged: brutal truth, napalm death, venomous concept