Season Of Mist Underground Activists
rating icon 7.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Reaper Abyss (Real Rain)
02. Reign Power (Above All Born)
03. Oath Violator
04. Salvation Smothered (Genocide of Flock)
05. Human Animal
06. Excommunication
07. Lightning Mythos
08. Self Segregation (System Torched)
09. Death Hand (Strike Dehumanization)
10. Apostasy Imposed (Takeover Mode)

Six albums into an avowedly spotlight-shunning career, REVENGE have earned themselves a formidable reputation. Admittedly, it's a reputation for making records that sound like all the hatred in the world, condensed down to an unstoppable tornado of harrowing, blackened noise. But that still counts. And the truth about REVENGE is that while the Canadians could hardly be grubbier, DIY and underground if they tried, the band's catalogue is far less myopic and one-dimensional than that reputation foretells.

Not that anyone should expect jazzy interludes or ambient detours from "Strike.Smother.Dehumanize". That title gives you all the information you need to infer that REVENGE have not mellowed one iota. But while the bulk of this new material will definitely make you feel like you've been launched into a storm of bullets, blood and shattered teeth, it would be pointlessly reductive to say that these songs are devoid of nuance (even if the nuances I'm referring to are all still firmly in the realms of terrifying, absurdly extreme metal). As with 2015's "Behold.Total.Rejection", REVENGE's in-built contempt for dynamics still allows for some deeply warped and non-traditional textures to infiltrate the remorseless blitzkrieg.

The album begins exactly as fans would expect and demand, of course. "Reaper Abyss (Real Rain)" is all psychotic blasts and lurching haymaker riffing; vocals spewed rather than sung, from the center of the atonal storm. Suddenly, REVENGE drop to a slower tempo, and it's for a kind of oppressive, unforgiving, HELLHAMMER-style dissonance that must and does erupt into abject chaos before the song's abrupt end, as inevitable as death's embrace. "Reign Power (Above All Born)" is even more fevered and furious, an out-and-out blur of bile, but it's "Oath Violator", with its bursts of hateful grind and mid-song plummet into the buzz-saw sludge abyss, that first spotlights the tiny evolutionary strides being made here.

Not that it matters. The REVENGE experience is primarily based on that ugly, animalistic roar of disdain and vengeance, and there are several career-best examples of that ethos at work here: "Salvation Smothered (Genocide of Flock)" is alarmingly unhinged and violent, while closer "Apostasy Imposed (Takeover Mode)" sneaks some authentic black metal riffs into an otherwise dizzying barrage of blitzed-out odium. None of it will make you feel better about the state of the world, but your neighbors will fucking hate you.

Author: Dom Lawson
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