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Revenge > Behold.Total.Rejection > Reviews > RapeTheDead
Revenge - Behold.Total.Rejection

well they really threw a curveball with this one - 60%

RapeTheDead, December 19th, 2015

How do you break new boundaries when your music is always about pushing all the limits, all the time? Well, that's the question Revenge has responded to with every album they put out after the first one, and each time they answer pretty much the same way: by creating an audial shitstorm. Of course, innovation is not at all the point of Revenge and I understand that. I know the end result that Revenge wishes to achieve with their music will probably differ from Dream Theater's ideals or whatever. But that just kind of makes me wonder: what the hell IS the point of Revenge? Chaos? Okay, that's cool. I can get behind extremity for the sake of it. The most logically coherent way to create musical chaos would be to have all instruments going full blast all of the time. Throw in frequent and jarring tempo changes, just have a shitload of noise bombard you from every which way possible. Revenge figured this out pretty early on, and they've recreated that atmosphere for well over a decade. what?

I guess plugging away at a very specific niche of music for a while will eventually reap its benefits, because this album was put out by Season of Mist, who (so I've heard) only sign bands that are already established and seldom take risks on newer acts. That itself tells you that a) there's a solid chunk of people who actually buy this shit a lot and b) Revenge has slowly been growing in popularity in recent history, or at the very least has a loyal and stable fanbase. There are people out there who eagerly anticipate new Revenge albums--they listen to them frequently and can compare and contrast between releases. They might prefer certain albums over others for a multitude of reasons. I am not one of these people. I listen to Revenge albums and I hear a lot of blasty noisy grind stuff contrasted with slow noisy grind stuff. I cannot tell the difference between any of their albums, either--I couldn't name you a single song by these guys. The only thing that allows me to distinguish between albums is the difference in production styles, and Behold.Total.Rejection has one of the more balanced jobs as far as their discography is concerned. Granted, you still can't really make out the riffs during the fast parts if you're not listening through a good speaker system, but at the very least you're pretty confident that patterns of notes get played on the guitar and it doesn't all just sound like static mud. Oddly enough, though, the enhanced production quality doesn't really make the music better. Sure, I can hear what's going with a lot more clarity, but it's not like said clarity reveals some otherwise-untapped genius. The riffs are abrasive and averse and the solos sound like Kerry King's sheet music run through a blender and re-pieced together, I knew that was what Revenge did before I heard this album, so the attention given to the guitars in the production doesn't really do anything other than validate the opinions I already held.

So there's fast shit, and then there's slow shit to make the fast shit seem even faster. Part of me wishes that sentence could be my entire review, but I guess I still gotta give you the rest of the picture just in case you're unfamiliar with the general idea Revenge is laying down. The vocals are loud, mid-to-high range yells mixed in with low, gurgly bits and there's a shitload of different vocal styles and effects used. The drums are some of the most cluttered and claustrophobic I've ever heard. You can tell this guy has skills, but not necessarily because of how well he can keep a good beat--the skill lays in how James Read manages to avoid establishing any semblance of groove by throwing fills in where there have no business existing, as well as following the theme of the guitar so closely that any sort of baseline pattern established by the drums is also gone. This whole "avoidance of groove" thing is how Revenge separates themselves from some of their peers. I fired up the latest album by Archgoat once Behold.Total.Rejection was done, and immediately I noticed how easy the riffs were to follow in comparison. Revenge isn't just trying to write a sick, filthy and extreme album--their goal is to actively grind against the listener's ears by making everything really pissed off and complicated. Even chaotic filth like Antediluvian or Pissgrave has way more nuance and purpose than anything Revenge writes. This band knows their audience and writes exactly what they want with each new album. If you liked Revenge before, you will probably like Behold.Total.Rejection. So what's the issue here?

The lingering problem I have with this band is that their music has become irrelevant. You don't even need to hear this album to know if you'd want to buy it or not (assuming you've heard Revenge before), as as such, this is nothing but aesthetic. All of their albums have the exact same title style (eliminating spaces in favor of periods) and all of them feature either an image of a skull and/or weaponry against a plain black cover. The band only write certain verses of their lyrics in the booklets--fuck, they're mysterious eh? They're so mysterious, they apparently live in a grayscale world according to their band photos. At this point among seasoned metalheads, saying you listen to Revenge isn't necessarily an invitation to check them out, it's a way of Making a Statement about your taste. It goes: "You like extreme shit? Well these guys are obviously way more extreme than anything else because they try to make their music as unlistenable as possible!" Basically, what I'm trying to say here is that I'm convinced people don't actually listen to Revenge because they enjoy their albums, they listen to them just to say they listen to them. Of course, I know that's not true. I've met genuine Revenge fans, and it's not like they're feigning interest or anything. Sometimes, though, I do wonder if anyone would notice if they remastered one of their older albums and released it as a new one.

At the end of the day, Revenge is an aesthetic. All things considered it's not really a bad aesthetic, but how much you enjoy Behold.Total.Rejection will be inextricably tied to how much you appreciate that aesthetic. I think skulls are cool and stuff, so it's not like I mind this or anything. Personally, when I listen to this, I tend to phase out when the maniacal blasting sections are present, only tuning back in when a slower part kicks in and they play a solid sludgy riff. Maybe if I was the right kind of pissed off I would enjoy this a lot more, but as it stands this is already music I can only appreciate at all when I'm in the right mood. It's alright, though. I don't mind war metal stuff and these guys at least have some actual riffs every now and then, but I can't help but feel a growing sense of unease as the music of Revenge seems to become less and less important to the overall picture with every album.