Oh, what a surprise it was to get to do a piece on the re-release of Norwegian black metal legends Mortem’s Slow Death! A huge thank you to Peaceville for deciding to throw this one back out there in a two-disc set containing the original recordings along with some of the demos. Included in the release is the original 1989 booklet with an extended band history and some awesome rare images. I am actually finding it kind of hard to pick a place to begin!
Behold Total Rejection (Season Of Mist). Until now, Revenge’s three word album titles have always read like the results of a free association exercise at a Fascist support group – Victory Intolerance Mastery, Scum Collapse Eradication, Triumph Genocide Antichrist (all Osmose). Their new release breaks the pattern by not only being an actual sentence, but sounding like it might have more to do with getting dumped than watching a legion of Demon Nazis drown the earth in hatred. Does this represent a subtle shift in the style for the band, then? Er… no.
A dissonant, ugly chord drenched in distortion repeats two or three times before giving way to guitar playing so crude and primitive that even “riff” seems too sophisticated a concept. The drummer appears to be trying to hit every drum as many times as he can simultaneously, and doesn’t really care what anyone else is doing. Solos that are seemingly unrelated to the rest of the music howl out of nowhere like masturbating ponies and then vanish as quickly. The vocals jump from throat-ripping yelps and what sounds like someone gargling cough-medicine, often at the same time – at least once, he will go “Oooh!” and effects will make it echo mechanically for a few seconds like Tom G. Warrior’s cyborg ghost. At some point they’ll attempt to lock into a groove or Doom passage, then give up after a few seconds as the music collapses back into roaring chaos as if nothing happened. There’ll be a moment where the music seems to wobble for a moment, as if about to collapse under the weight of its own completely ridiculous fury.
Every song on every album that Revenge have ever written sounds exactly like that. They are brilliant.
There’s something very distinctive, even unique, about Revenge. They’re normally considered alongside bands like Black Witchery or Diocletian, but they have as much in common with sloppy Grind or Watchmaker as their more conventionally Black Metal peers, and their composition and delivery is frequently related more to harsh Noise than anything in Rock or Metal. Like Noise, there’s something compelling or even addictive about them – when you’re in the mood for it nothing else will hit the spot. Even the nastiest and rawest of Black Metal sounds far too structured and melodic in comparison.
Evaluating a Revenge album is, ultimately, pointless. People who think they might enjoy the musical equivalent of rolling downhill in a washing machine full of rocks will find Behold Total Rejection as good a place to get on board as any other album. Established fans will find exactly what they’re looking for. Everyone else… well… it’s not for them. They’ll find something else, don’t worry.