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Knee deep in more than just the dead. - 25%

Diamhea, March 29th, 2014

I had to put myself through this one. Gritty thrash that uses DooM as it's prime source of subject matter? How could you go wrong!? Well, apparently you can. The biggest problem with Knee Deep in the Dead is that it simply feels unfinished. Even if you give the abysmal production values a free pass due to Revenant's status as a one-man project of sorts, you still find yourself wading through mountains of excrement and forced references that induce ample face-palming.

I'm with Lord Reven up to the point of his decision to choose DooM as a lyrical and formulaic blueprint. Where he loses me is on his execution of these attributes. Simply throwing in sound clips from the game along with a phoned-in intro of the track "Sinister" from the original soundtrack doesn't cut it. The lyrics I can care less about, as DooM itself boasts a narrative about as deep as a puddle of demon blood, but name-dropping popular maps as song titles is just not enough on it's own. "Toxin Refinery" opens with the aforementioned "Sinister," which didn't even appear until later in the game, after which Lord Reven starts churning out his half-baked melodic thrash riffs. Some are better than others, but to his credit he clearly has a decent grasp of the style he is trying to purport. Many of the riffs sound very Kreator-ish at times, occasionally shifting into more atonal single-note strumming with the occasional melodic flutter tacked onto the end of each passage. Knee Deep in the Dead's best moment is undoubtedly the two minutes that open "Slough of Despair." Before the overpowering vocals come in and blow everything to dust akin to a BFG 9000, Lord Reven manages to craft a solid ode to the best map (in title) of the original game.

Otherwise, there isn't much more to see. As mentioned above, the vocals are just a disaster. Their tortured quality is evident, but they are haphazardly arranged and way too loud in the mix. There is one point in "Toxin Refinery" that will turn your eardrums to slush if you don't know it is coming. I wasn't, and this may be the final album I ever get to review as a result. In fact, Knee Deep in the Dead would be much more digestible without vocals at all. We would be left with a single guitar channel alongside a pluggy bass and programmed drums, but it would at least boast a consistent atmosphere. Instead, Lord Reven throws us all over the place, trying to work his daemon magic on the listener through a variety of ill-advised compositional avenues.

The cover of Destruction's "Bestial Invasion" is a nice choice and helps add some quality riffs to the mixing pot, but the solo is just an atonal mess. Sometimes the guitar sounds like it is coming out of tune as well, simply adding to the do-it-yourself ambiance being pushed by Lord Reven here. Through some research, I learned that Revenant hopes to combine elements from a number of disparate PC games like Quake and Hexen - not just DooM. Lord Reven should rethink his approach before he continues sullying the good name of the classic titles he and I grew up with. Hey Revvy, after I get done hiking on Mt. Erebus, why don't you and I go down to the Spawning Vats and grab some nukage to take to The Refinery? Afterward, maybe we can see what's up at The House of Pain. See what I did there?