Revenge – Strike.Smother.Dehumanize


Canadian black metallers, Revenge, are back with their first album since 2015’s ‘Behold.Total.Rejection.’, but they’re in no mood to go easy on you after a five-year sabbatical. One listen to their latest offering will remind you that metal is the most sadistic and vicious genre of music on the planet when executed in its full transgressive glory.

If you like your music extreme, you’ll not be disappointed by ‘Strike.Smother.Dehumanize’. Imagine Mayhem covering Nasum with avant garde jazz maestro, John Zorn, conducting the proceedings. Nothing is ever dull, but your sensory nervous system might be after the battering they dish out during 36 minutes of unadulterated psychopathic terror.

Warning: do not go into this album unprepared. Revenge have no interest in a bayonet assault but opt for a scatter gun approach in the hope it kills as many bystanders as possible. You wouldn’t want to be on their kill list on the evidence of ‘Lightning Mythos’, nor would you survive as their prisoner if captured for ransom. Give a listen to ‘Reign Power (Above All Born)’ and see if you can describe the demonic vocals coming through your speakers. One attempt would be the sound of a wounded horse with a blocked-up nose that can’t be led to water but is desperate to slake its thirst. Nothing like it exists in black metal or any other genre. Whether they’re using a vocal effect or not, it works. 

On a record of ten songs, it’s hard to pick out anything that reaches the extraordinary, but nothing fizzles out, either. ‘Reaper Abyss (Real Rain)’ is brutal but not insipid or contrived like so much in the black metal genre. The curious might gravitate towards ‘Human Animal’, which gives us a glimpse of what the debut Carcass album might have sounded like with better production and a competent audio engineer. But the most interesting composition is ‘Self-Segregation (System Torched)’, which blurs the line between malevolent black metal and face-smashing grindcore. It’s not for the faint-hearted.

The only criticism of the album is the way the guitar fades under the awesome explosion of drum fills and blast beats. Throw in the furious vocals and it’s hard to make out any memorable riffs. The solos are also a mess of scale runs trying to keep up with the snare action rather than the other way around. Whether the guitar chaos is supposed to resemble a manic saxophone frenzy is open to question. A variation in song tempos would also be welcome. Apart from the last track and the intro to ‘Salvation Smothered (Genocide of Flock)’, we get no mid-tempo bludgeoning to keep things fresh.

Nevertheless, Revenge show six albums into the career that they can rival Napalm Death’s legendary Peel Sessions for intensity and are worthy of a place next to the most extreme bands on the planet.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 22/05/2020

Record Label: Season of Mist

Standout tracks: Reaper Abyss (Real Rain), Oath Violator, Self-Segregation (System Torched)

Suggested Further Listening: Imperial Triumphant – Vile Luxury (2018), Napalm Death – Peel Sessions (1987), Mayhem – Deathcrush (1987)