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The dark horse of contemporary Canadian black metal, Revenge probably gets a more outrageously diverse set of reactions than any other band. Their “music” is so unbelievably chaotic, so jaw-droppingly savage, and so bone-crushingly heavy as to strike awe. Utterance of their very name is enough to make even the most hardened extreme music fan shudder. Scum Eradication Collapse, their most recent output, proudly carries on their legacy of delivering unparalleled sonic terror. Just like any album that came before it, Scum is best described as a tortured cadenza of savage, militant drumming, overly-distorted riffing and the crazed, rabid barks courtesy of James Read. It is another uncompromisingly violent album from one of the most polarizing forces in the underground. It also shouldn’t surprise anyone that they’ve accrued a surprising amount of controversy in recent years.
What’s immediately apparent is the upgrade in production values. While past Revenge albums sounded relatively plastic and boxed in, Scum sees the band opting for a distinctively crustier sound. All the instruments are appropriately captured and highlighted but yet sounds ten-fold heavier than past albums. The drums are more prominent in the mix, no doubt highlighting Read’s incredible drumming prowess. I suppose my only qualm is that the vocals are less accentuated and buried this time around. A shame considering Read is arguably the most bat-shit terrifying vocalist now living, black metal or otherwise. Muddled vocals notwithstanding, it’s easily the rawest, crunchiest, nastiest sound they achieved thus far, and I fucking love it.
One of the most startling aspects of Revenge’s sound is the insane, fractured drumming of James Read. I’ve listened to a great deal of extreme music of all genres, and I think it’s safe to say that no one comes close to touching the sheer madness displayed by this man. A sordid mish-mash of thunderous rolls, hyper-violent blasting and abrupt shifts in tempo Read delights in the use of his drum kit and all of its expressive capabilities. Of course, those who are unfamiliar with Revenge would dismiss it as a structural mess. But in Read’s defense I’ll say that from a technical standpoint, his ratio of frantic blasting to more militant, mid-paced stomping, is higher than most drummers, and that there is perhaps a certain compositional validity and aesthetic charm in that. You’ll hear blast-beats played at such varied speeds and at such crazed tempos; it’s almost as if Read overlapped different drum tracks together and replayed it backwards.
As aforementioned, the guitars sound absolutely top-notch. Thanks to Necromorbus Studios, Ross’s signature riffing is caked with even more grime and filth. A core essential to any Revenge album is to have insanely down-tuned guitars, creating a dense, impenetrable wall of static that is nothing short of devastating. From the very first chords of “Us and Them” the listener is smashed headfirst into a wall of thick, viscous noise. Moreover, the Blasphemy-inspired riffs are back in full swing, only this time with a more pronounced doom edge to it. This is not to say Revenge have softened up over the past four years. Far from it. Such an influence only adds to the already weighty and crushingly heavy tone this album exudes.
Scum is not for everyone. Even for most jaded fans, it is an album depraved and extreme beyond belief. Will you enjoy it? Well, it ultimately depends on the type of person you are. If you value disastrous, noisy wrecks like early Nuclear Death and Sadistik Exekution then Revenge has no peer. To say that Scum is decent music burdened by an overly indulgent execution is to miss the point. The execution is the album. There is no way to separate the two. In short, if you're looking to be aurally... not bludgeoned, for "bludgeoned" is too mild a word. If you're looking to be aurally HATEFUCKED, then this album is worth its weight in gold.