Thoreau may have penned “simplicity, simplicity, simplicity!”, but the quote could just as easily have come from war metal band Revenge. If nothing else, the Canadian triumvirate has been remarkably consistent in their approach over the past 15 years. The group has five studio albums: all featuring black, minimalist cover artwork (usually with a skull), all using three words to sum their dystopian landscape (Infiltration.Downfall.Death and Victory.Intolerance.Mastery. were the predecessors to Behold.Total.Rejection.). Boasting “No Scene. No brotherhood. No remorse.”, Revenge has carved out a niche of frenetically paced bestial metal using growling vocals and disconcerting chord progressions.
Despite producing a wholly chaotic brand of music, Revenge hasn’t strayed from the formula in their most recent album. Behold.Total.Rejection. is unwavering in its brutality, but has a certain symmetry to it. It’s easy to miss one song bleeding into the next if you’re not careful, as was the case with opening tracks “Scum Defection (Outsider Neutralized)” and “Shock Attrition (Control In Decline).” Vocalist James Read begins the album with shrieking vocals and low-pitched muffled growls on each track (respectively) before giving way to sludgy riffs and indiscriminate cymbal abuse. It’s on these two tracks that Read shows off his vocal dexterity. Weaving in and out of growls with seeming indifference, a maneuver that, in addition to just being impressive, helps Behold.Total.Rejection. avoids lulls and become predictable.
“Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side)” is when Behold.Total.Rejection begins to branch out. A melodic breakdown concludes the album’s introduction, serving as a two-minute bridge for the listener to collect their thoughts before again being thrown to the wolves. “Mass Death Next,” a short-but-sweet, kick drum heavy banger, and “ETHR (Failure Erased)” are sub-two minute songs that function to set up the album’s crowning achievements, “Mobilization Rites” and “Nihilist Militant (Total Rejection)”. Whereas “Mobilization Rites” possesses borderline-harmful guitar riffs, “Nihilist Militant” opens with a machine gun-esque drum roll; a nice touch for an album bellowing an unintelligible battle cry.
In lieu of producing a more accessible album, James Read has opted to double down, creating a more barbarous sound than ever before. It ain’t broke, and, as evidenced by the helter-skelter nature of their work, Revenge isn’t in the business of fixing anything. Behold.Total.Rejection. is a community crowd-pleaser; a no-frills black metal album that will appease die-hard fans and, in all likelihood, recruit a few new ones.
– Milo Taibi