All hail Venom! The godfathers of Black Metal, this NWOBHM band formed in 1979, releasing three classic albums before they'd given a single live performance. By the time the veiled-in-mystery band toured, the buzz about them was enormous. Cronos' dread-inspiring vocals seemed delivered not from the voice box, but from an inner Pandora's box. Drummer Abaddon and guitarist Mantas kicked up maelstroms of their own. No power trio before them had created such a fray of propulsive beats and godly riffage. Venom distilled all of Metal's clichÃ©s -- the obsessions with war, sex, fantasy, the occult -- and took them to extremes bordering on parody. Chanting along to the wicked camp of "In League with Satan" and "Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)" are guilty pleasures. Amoral? Perhaps, but no less so than indulging in the rank sexism of "Red Light Fever" and "Teacher's Pet." Some followers (e.g., the Scandinavian Black Metal scene) took their satanic posturing literally, but for Venom the "metal" in heavy metal was always pure irony.