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I worked through Revenge's albums chronologically, starting with 'Triumph. Genocide. Antichrist.' and 'Victory. Intolerance. Mastery.' before getting to this, their third full-length (I'm yet to hear their fourth, 'Scum. Collapse. Eradication.', hence the title above). After repeated listens, I can safely say that this is my favourite of the three, and the one I'd recommend to those new to Revenge. The reasons for this are simple; the mix is better, the songs are better and the individual performances are better.
Whereas the first two Revenge albums largely relied on full-tilt, hyperspeed grinding with little concern for variation, this album manages to mix that rabid aggression with a greater sense of musical coherence and (gulp) groove. Remember those catchy, grooving riffs that introduced 'Blood of My Blood' and 'Genocide Conquest'? I found those to be highly enjoyable but cut painfully short; not so here. There are numerous occasions on 'Infiltration. Downfall. Death.' when the band hit upon a seriously catchy, murderous mid-to-slow-paced groove and stick with it long enough for the listener to really get their head banging. See the slow part of 'Final Doctrine (Push Forward)' for the finest example. The guitars on this album have been pushed up way further in the mix than on the previous albums, allowing them to cut through with vicious effect, even on the fast parts which tended to become a mess of drums and fuzz in the past.
I make no secret of the fact that I first came across Revenge via the involvement of Angelcorpse/Order from Chaos frontman Pete Helmkamp, rather than that of Conqueror drummer/vocalist James Read. I have always preferred the former's mid-range gargling to the latter's manic shrieking, but the two seem better balanced here than ever before. It is a shame that Helmkamp is no longer with them, as the two vocalist's interaction keeps things interesting and gives the vocals a distinctly Carcass-esque sound (complete with the pitch-shifted low vocals). Here we have some of Helmkamp's best vocal moments with Revenge, particularly in his catchy lines on 'Blood Noose (Hog-Tied Like Swine)'. I seriously doubt Read'll find anyone to match Pete's distinctive voice, but I'll have to wait and see until I eventually get hold of 'Scum. Collapse. Eradication.'
In the mean time though, this is a fine album indeed and my favourite Revenge CD to date. It has all the brutal aggression of the previous albums with an added dose of groove and clarity, which makes it even more empowering than before. If you wrote them off after the first two due to the somewhat monotonous chaos, check this one out first. It may even change your mind about the older albums!
Been a long time since I last heard anything by the Canadian band but I have the impression after hearing this album that the guys have actually slowed down a bit and have changed their sound. They now sound much like the UK grindcore band Carcass during that group's "Reek of Putrefaction" period with maybe a bit of that Bill Steer / Lee Dorrian-period Napalm Death influence. We have duelling vocals on just about every song with one slurpy reptilian voice inspired perhaps by Godzilla with a gizzard full of churning rocks going toe-to-toe with a high-pitched hysterical vocal; plus speedy bassy rhythms punctuated by flashes of lead guitar spitting out sparks in every direction. Drumming can be choppy and monotonous due to the speed of the music and the bass guitar keeps going on and on and on like a runaway motorbike up hill and down dale.
The songs don't differ all that much, they are fast all the way through though if you listen really very carefully they are quite well-constructed. They don't seem quite as fast as I remember and there is much less actual screaming. The sound on the album is deep and full so when the lead guitar bursts in, you really notice it because the contrast between lead guitar and the rest of the music is so startling. Song titles state the obvious which are then qualified with a comment in parentheses: "Blood Noose (Hog-tied like Swine)", "By Force (The Only Option)" and "Final Doctrine (Push Forward)" being just three examples. One new thing I notice is that the songs are at least over 3 minutes long with a number of them well over the 4-minute mark and one actually hitting past 5 minutes.
The production is basic and gives the band that raw sound necessary for in-yer-face blaring music. "Cleansing Siege (Take Them Down)" sounds tinnier than the others. The overall effect makes Revenge sound very much like a demented bloodlust-driven death metal band with very little BM influence that I can hear. On "Final Doctrine ..." the musicians use an unusual continuous blurry guitar whine that snakes up and down in the second half of the song. Gosh-almighty, these guys are more sophisticated than we ever thought! Whatever tricks up their sleeves are they yet to reveal? The song that makes the most impression though is the last one, "Cleansing Siege ..." for its floaty guitar solo intro, galloping rhythms in some parts, clearer vocals than usual and a pyrotechnical finish.
A few changes here and there, some of which you have to listen carefully for, and the sound is a lot deeper but some things about Revenge don't (and probably should never change): the mad singing, the straight-faced take-no-prisoners approach, the musical rampaging ... ah, these should never go out of style. So many things about Revenge are just so over-the-top, I tend to look at them as amusing and a bit cartoony.