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Containing veteran Swedish extreme metal musician Rogga, who already boasts a whole host of bands that he has contributed to over his career, Revolting this year releases their fourth full length album in the same number of years, evident of the hardworking nature of the band. Hymns of Ghastly Horror continues the band’s horror-inspired old school death metal.
The Mother of Darkness opens with a rather quirky riff, but shit gets real without much ado, and the heavy influences from Swedish death metal pioneers such as Entombed and Dismember are rather clear, with the cutting, gnarly tone of the guitars that is so characteristic of Swedish old school death metal, and the d-beat attack of drummer Mutated Martin. The punkish feel that the band at times incorporate, especially with the lead guitars that are littered throughout the record are rather reminiscent of such bands as Bombs of Hades and Bastard Priest, as the infectious, raw energy of the band gets the listener headbanging instantly to the music that is contained on the album. Revolting Rogga’s vocals are also stellar, bringing in a tinge of Bloodbath as well with his deep, throaty growls reminding listeners of a fusion between Dan Swano’s and Mikael Akerfeldt’s vocals.
Unfortunately, the band falters slightly on the wailing lead guitars that are constantly present on the tracks, and often times these seem rather unnecessary, such as those on the starting moments of Their Thoughts Can Kill, which ends up being rather irritating instead. Other than that though, Hymns of Ghastly Horror is an extremely fun, catchy and somewhat cheesy old school Swedish death metal release, made all the more enjoyable with the bombastic production that the band has indulged themselves in. Despite being raw, the mix is sufficiently loud for all the instruments to be audible, and the high mix of the bass drums makes things all the more intense especially on the double-bass fuelled moments by Mutated Martin, pounding the listener’s eardrums without mercy. Bassist Grotesque Tobias completes the rhythmic segment and adds in the low-end growls throughout the album as well. Furthermore, the band does not stick purely to the tried-and-tested songwriting methods, with slight variations in the songwriting that could be noticed as the album progresses. For example, Ravenous Alien Spawn is a crushing, intense and somewhat more serious-sounding track compared to the preceding tracks, proving Revolting‘s ability to spawn crushing death metal when needed too.
The band’s embracing of the old school is rather clear throughout, and the songs are often rather straightforward, with the aims of the band to simply bulldoze whoever stands in their way in under the 36 minutes that is contained on the album. The grooves contained within the album has also helped to make the album an extremely fun one to listen to, and one that is probably palatable even to those who aren’t fans of death metal.
Awaken to the alarm clock. Brush teeth. Make breakfast. Death metal. Lunch. Death metal. Dinner. Death metal. This is surely the daily cycle of 'Revolting' Rogga, the man who must by this point have the broadest personal investment and discography in all the genre, the world over. Revolting is not one of his most long-lived projects to date, but he's managed to release one full-length per year in addition to his prolific schedule elsewhere. The 2009 debut, Dreadful Pleasures remains my favorite of these, even after listening through Hymns of Ghastly Horror a few times, but all the albums have more or less maintained the same general quality and theme, and you're getting exactly what the trio is advertising: some of the most campy, horror-inspired, frightful kitsch outside the Razorback roster.
In terms of sheer sound and recording aesthetics, Revolting is barely a decapitated head's throw away from a few of Rogga's other bands Ribspreader and Paganizer. The chunky Swedish tone is implemented over a variety of riffing patterns, many of which trace their lineage back to the usual suspects like Entombed, Dismember, Grave or Unleashed, but others surprisingly melodic in the vein of something like At the Gates or the more recent Evocation material. Hymns of Ghastly Horror is in fact a decently varied record, whether it's the morbid death & roll of instrumental "The Thing That C.H.U.D. Not Be" with its charming samples from the cult mutant flick, or "Their Thoughts Can Kill" or "Psychoplasmics" which are threaded with copious speed thrashing rhythms, or the denser, hilarious chug-fest of "Kinderfeeder". There are at least a dozen hooks through the 36 minutes which beg for a replay, despite the fact that a lot of the progressions seem samey to anyone who has followed the Swedish death revival in the past decade. The rhythm section of Grotesque Tobias and Mutated Martin is as dependable as ever, even if they're not doing anything much else than support Rogga's endless supply of riffs.
Actually, whilst comparable to its predecessors, Hymns of Ghastly Horror might just have the best overall production for this project to date, nearly on par with Rogga's higher profile Demiurg. Guitars are sodden and repulsive, yet the melodies and brief leads scream through the mix. Vocals are loud and reliable, often molded in L-G Petrov's hoarse tension, but often even more brutal and guttural as if they were drawing more influence from early Dutch or USDM. The colorful subject matter of the lyrics is, as usual, incredibly fun, especially for those who love cheesy horror/sci-fi flicks and don't take it all so seriously. Serial killers ("The Hatchet Murders"), extraterrestrial threats ("Ravenous Alien Spawn"), even what seems like a little Italian giallo horror gets a nod. Revolting enjoys their cult cinema, and they celebrate it much like the more festive of us give our patronage to haunted houses, hayrides and horror cons. Hymns of Ghastly Horror might not be anything out of the ordinary, or much of an accomplishment for a man that might just release a dozen albums by next month, but it's solid entertainment. Better than last year's In Grisly Rapture, thought it falls just shy of the first two records.