Extreme metal is such a tamed and overstretched phenomenon, a thick vellum that the hobbyist too often stretches over their own gasping mouth in imitation of heroes and without any feeling, taste or emotion incurred beyond their own sickening self-gratification. Egotistical ‘higher art’ easily agreed upon between profoundly fucking fake rockstar-lite assholes and shit-peddling hopefuls who’re too wrapped up in their own opportunistic feces to give a shit, is worthless within moments of discovery for the hype-beaten buyers they inspire. Pretentious as the god-awful morass of modern music can be in professional spaces… the outside spaces, the underground, the too-fucked-up for the pay-to-play idiocy amongst corporate playthings and artist-juicing swine is where the value has always been. Today an era of great interconnected worthlessness, where any fool can coyly feign uniqueness online, reinforces the death of the genuine and invested audience. So, where is the mark? A striking artistic duality, in this case, represents a potentially lucid full-range experience. What psychotic wrongs did Uppsala, Sweden based mutants Reveal inflict upon the world in their youth that the furies would choke them so publicly with this curse of blackened psychedelia by way of death rock’d noise? They’d trace the trail of horrors back to 2006 when Waster would apex organically into this second form beyond a love for cryptic and musty black metal ancients into our bleak future. Their third album, the offending ‘Scissorgod’, is the primal scream of modern ‘rock’ music tailored for dulled and starving extreme metal ears, begging the listener to claw out of their mind palace and die screaming along with the rest of us.
Back in 2011 the thrashed psychedelia of a young Swedish black/death metal band touring early Mayhem, Morbid and Tormentor was a thrill to behold on ‘Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth‘ that’d recalled the enlightened dark of Negative Plane as much as it safely kept its own experimental intent from overshadowing the cult of black/death/thrash metal itself. Sweden was alight with a maddening number of pyres for the old gods during a dark age that saw band-shattering desecration in Tribulation and In Solitude, among others who’d tasted life beyond the Ghostly pale and died (some in spirit only) for their own disconnections. I don’t know what Reveal were doing between 2012 and 2015, great drugs and day jobs probably but their second album (‘Flystrips‘, 2016) took a great slice out of my mind and forced it to regrow beyond the blindness incurred through devotion to old forms. I’d always wondered if this shift had come with growth or new blood, in 2015 bassist Gottfrid Åhman (ex-In Solitude, Invidious) would join as an imposing performer and songwriter and with ‘Flystrips’ Reveal would blister and peel away their noxious black skin to expose a pink belly of prime innovation: Blackened noise rock heavily influenced by modern post-punk and still aggressive enough to sate most of their extreme metal past. It was a massive and unexpected leap, probably too far, they were entirely reborn and uh, pretty young folks to begin with.
No way back, they knew there was no way back from 2016. These guys were finally out of the womb, you can’t go back in the womb… ‘Scissorgod’ instead goes diagonally forward and deeper, finding Reveal cutting heavily into all realms of psychedelic post-punk, abrasive noise rock clangor, and sickly brooding psychosexual black metallic rock torment. Foul, unnatural and unnerving as their crazed blackened Christian Death meets ‘Deathcrush’ brood is, it’ll be magnetic for folks who’d been drawn to modern explorations of gothic post-punk within black metal circles of late; This won’t satisfy that gothy self-obsessed clinginess you crave but it does feature enough depraved and drugged loathing to sound relevant to the bigger picture of experimental blackened noise this last decade. The experience is that of colliding, not collapsing, opposites made into playthings for men who are perhaps no longer psychotic children but calculated adults with fresh-assed thoughts and skills in hand. They’ve created ‘Scissorgod’ in the present, capturing points of inspiration so fluid that they appear ‘in the moment’ and artfully pieced together into a forward-thinking space that facets Reveal a jewel in open minds tomorrow rather than within the ragged afterthoughts of those obsessed with the past.
‘Scissorgod’ is a complete and well-rounded blackened psychedelic rock album first and foremost. Steamy and expansive as its breathy hissing and ooze-plucked basslines are the real triumph of this third album is its reinforced sense of uncertain journey towards acceptance of the ever-shifting ‘self’; The experience should ultimately evoke the impermanence of self and all things before death. The core of the performers can be defined and identified in their exotic unison, creating some sense of unified and gloriously repeatable inappropriately erotic heavy metal action but the biggest picture sees all things entirely changed before the end. The transformation that occurs within the torments of ‘Scissorgod’ (she, Death) echoes the finer niches of outsider psychedelic rock, spreading two sides of a record each with spirited beginnings, esoteric tumult, deeply hollowing poetics, and coming-down beats before reprisal leads to new and exciting tangents. The great success of ‘Flystrips’ was its moving guitar-driven rock structures which trailed into concise by evocative progressions that felt transcendent of any predictable goal before tightly winding backwards. That sense of recoil into succinct memorability is warped on ‘Scissorgod’, letting things settle and brood unperturbed by the need for ‘neatness’; The filth you’ll feel listening to Reveal‘s latest record comes from barriers crossed, unnatural combinations, unexpected travels that come with dark voices and repulsive frankness. The plunge of that grotesque honesty is the greater impact of the record, the feeling sensed comes from the pouring artists ‘self’ depicted on the sculptural cover art that graces it.
“Scissorgod” is deaths arrival and the world expands for those clipped and fallen into the abyss; The album opener dives right into a mind-bending vision of noise rock and psychedelic black metal with production worthy of ‘Sweven’, immediately twisting the road forward with oddly-strung syncopation and an echoing harangue. Braiding itself like a string of bloody stuffed entrails, each song distinctly completes followed by another piece that makes sense next to it, and the tracklist feels proportionate as an experience as a result of its arrangement. Regardless of how intentional the wholly considered trip is ‘Scissorgod’ feels curated from the start to finish, starting with a duo that’d circle downward that signals the frazzled final spiral of “Decomposer”, an entirely new sound and dynamic from Reveal that brings great dramatic range to the full listen. From this point “Down Through the Hole” and major reprisal/early single “Clevermouth” builds up as a great emotional peak for the album. This set of five songs is already in the upper echelon of both extreme metal and modern rock music for 2019 to begin with but “Feeble Hearts” is where Reveal truly twists the dagger in the classicist’s chest. The intro to this riotous psychedelic n’ jangling horror of a noise rock song comes by way of (what sounds like) a marching band deploying foreboding tribalistic drumming this, alongside brilliant use of uh.. bassoon, makes “Feeble Hearts” a major highlight on the album. I could go on about the incredible kaleidoscopic ruin of “The Plot Thickens” and the ominous gothic art-punk clangor of “What Pigs Get” but the point is made by now, Reveal have outdone themselves with a restlessly compelling set of daring and memorable arrangements throughout this third album. It goes places, unexpected and wildly repeatable places that challenge and thrill as they tumble forward, downward. It’ll be my highest recommendation for the year.
Highest recommendation. 5.0/5.0
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