In League with Satan / Live Like an Angel

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Original short description: "Debut single by Venom (extreme metal band)"

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"In League with Satan / Live Like an Angel" is the first single released by English extreme metal band Venom. It was released on 19 April 1981 through Neat Records. Both songs would later appear on the band's debut album Welcome to Hell as well as their 1986 live album Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

The single maintains great significance to the band as well as the heavy metal genre, being the band's first material ever released as well as the first ever release of the black metal genre.

Writing and recording

"Live Like an Angel (Die Like a Devil)" is one the earliest songs written by guitarist Jeffrey "Mantas" Dunn in the late 1970s while "In League with Satan" was written in 1980.[1]

In April 1980, the band had previously recorded a three track demo tape called Demon after Lant managed to convince studio engineer Mickey Sweeney to work a short recording session with the band and get half a day in the studio for free. After the tape garnered some positive attention from national music magazine Sounds they would return to the studio on 10 October 1980 and began recording yet another demo tape after Neat came up with an affordable deal called the "£50 Demos". This deal allowed the band 4 hours in the studio to record as many live songs as possible straight to 2 track master for £50's. However, Lant was unable to get the money so he agreed to work long hours in the studio to pay for the session.[1]

The band recorded 6 tracks including the very first recordings of "In League with Satan" and "Live Like an Angel". At the time of these recordings, Lant was playing bass while original lead singer Clive Archer was on vocals. Right before playing "Live Like An Angel", Dunn asked Lant if he would like to have a go at singing to which Lant replied "Hell Yeah". After the session the band had a meeting with Dunn and "Abaddon" both agreeing that they preferred Lant's vocals to Clive's and decided that Lant would become the band's new vocalist.[1]

After recording these demos, Geoff Barton of Sounds magazine ended a review of White Spirit's 1980 debut album by saying; "in closing can I just politely suggest that Neat Records should release a single by the virulent Venom, and soon". Neat Records was surprised that Barton, a classic rock fan, seemed to take to the band so strongly and agreed. Recording began in January 1981, and Venom was asked to work with pop producer Steve Thompson to cut the single but Thompson, being unfamiliar with Heavy metal as he mainly worked recording sessions with club singers, did not mesh well with the band. The song "Angel Dust" was also recorded during these sessions and would appear on the Neat compilation album, Lead Weight, as well as Welcome to Hell. Lant, unsatisfied with the original mix of the single, snuck into the studio on a day when no one was booked to record with a 16 track master tape and remixed the entire single. He then switched the original tape with his newly remixed tape which ended up getting pressed up into singles. When the first batch of discs arrived at the office Thompson realized the pressed single was not his mix, to which Lant came clean straight away and admitted, "No, it’s not, it’s mine!". Neat Records, livid with what Lant had done without heir permission nearly fired him. Lant kept the original tape at his home and In League with Satan / Live Like an Angel was released on 19 April 1981, one year to the day that the band recorded their first demo, Demon.[1]

Music and lyrics

In Eduardo Rivadaviais' AllMusic review of the band's debut album, he describes the music as a mix of heavy metal, punk metal and speed metal.[2] Unlike the 1980 demo version, the single version of "In League with Satan" opens with a reversed recording of a demonic-sounding voice by using the backmasking technique. This gives way to a slow and heavy percussive tribal rhythm by drummer "Abaddon" followed by the main riff. By spinning the original vinyl counterclockwise, the voice of Lant can be heard saying "Satan, raised in hell, I'm gonna burn your soul, crush your bones, I'm gonna make you bleed, you gonna bleed for me" can be heard. This is one of the earliest instances of Satanic subliminal messages in music.[3] "Live Like an Angel" is played slightly faster than the album and demo version and vocally does not feature any high pitched screams during the verses as heard on the 1980 demo version but rather a more roughened up vocal style.

The original demo version of "In League with Satan" (with Clive Archer on vocals) featured different lyrics than the single and album version. The song lyrically stands out as the band's most Satanic track on the record, while "Live Like an Angel" delves into the topics of hedonism and sexual depravity. The song praises a life lived without remorse or inhibitions of any kind, satisfying one's drive at all times without concern for damnation.


The artwork, designed by Lant, consists of a black background with a white circular pentacle, inside is the head of the Goat of Mendes, symbol of the Church of Satan, a stylized Baphomet with a fierce expression; above that is the band logo "Venom" and under the track names "In League with Satan" and "Live Like an Angel", to the right and left of the Baphomet respectively, written in gothic characters. The five-pointed star is in turn circumscribed by two concentric circles. In the space between the two circumferences there are five Hebrew letters, each corresponding to a point of the star which take on the value of Belial, Leviathan, Lucifer, Satan, indicating Earth, Water, Air, Fire; plus the southern tip which represents man. The graphics for the single were reused for the cover of Welcome to Hell with the only differences being the format and color of the print (golden instead of white) and the title.[4]


Eduardo Rivadaviais of Allmusic cites "In League with Satan" as an album highlight along with the title track and "One Thousand Days in Sodom", referring to them as "timeless satanic onslaughts". He also references "Live Like an Angel" as rounding out the album in "bombastic fashion".[2] Due to the success and positive reception to the single, Neat Records asked the band to record all the material that they had.[5] These re-recorded demos, completed in just three days, would eventually become the band's debut album Welcome to Hell.[1]

Track listing

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