REVIEW: REVENGE – “Strike.Smother.Dehumanize”
Revenge is a polarising band. On one hand, many are in awe of the absolutely wild, unsophisticated, chaotic, and unwavering approach to Conqueror style war metal. On the other hand, the lack of variation or patience or production nuances, throughout all of their discography, turns people away. While the war metal genre is one of my favorites, I stand somewhere between these two factions – Revenge hits the spot when I am in a certain state of mind, while at other times I tire out. Although, watching them live was like witnessing a nuclear attack.
Regardless, what can’t be denied is the consistent intensity that feels like a throbbing attack to the senses. What also cannot be denied is how immensely talented the members – both current and historical – involved with the band are, and how influential all bands associated to these individuals are. Over several releases in the last couple of decades, Revenge has almost overshared their idea of unforgiving brutality to the point where you know exactly what you’d expect. ‘Strike.Smother.Dehumanize’ brings in the ugly face of senseless violence in the familiar auditory form of a Revenge album.
The first observation is the marginal improvement in production. While the guitar tone and vocals still remain filthy, the mixing here has the right balance and the riffing is not buried behind the drums and vocals. There are several sections where the band apply the hold and release approach and the riffs are nasty when they do that. The low guttural – high scream interplay works well again with the grind influences creeping up in places often. Tracks like “Human Animal” display an utter hatred for humanity and the interdependence destroying any meager potential that an individual could possess. The same disgust is further seen in shorter tracks like “Excommunication” and “Death Hand (Strike Dehumanization)” where the ferocity is dialed up further.
J Read is one of my favorite black metal drummers, and he continues to f*cking destroy everything in his path and continues to be the driving aspect of Revenge. One track after another, the drums stifle your attention and messes with your regular pulse pattern. The guitar solos are alarming and chaotic as usual. When the pace hits a high, and the squealing guitars accentuate the aural murder, it is nothing short of a spectacle. “Oath Violator” and “Salvation Smothered (Genocide of Flock)” are examples where you experience that, and they aren’t more or less heavy than any other track on the album. The longest and probably the tightest track “Apostasy Imposed (Takeover Mode)” is also the final track on the album. J Read is a monster on this one.
Revenge return with one of the best albums in their catalog with ‘Strike.Smother.Dehumanize’. This is not the music for introspection, this is a violent Outward – a reflection of power on the other. It is the required workout for the shedding of the unnecessary. An incessant aural abuse recommended in doses.