Though the self-titled debut is often used as a point of “reset” for an mercurial artist to establish basal expectation and identity, this simple multi-tool is best employed in preparation for a burgeoning career rather than to posit reinvention of form. In terms of traditional death metal spheres the self-titled album is relatively non-existent beyond a few “Oops! Groove and/or metalcore…” records in the mid-90’s so, approaching Finnish death metal quintet Revulsion‘s ‘Revulsion‘ had me wary of some corporate death hook or, alt-metal notion that might disturb my own Finndeath mental graveyard. It is, however, a straight death metal record with light brutal death metal influences at its fringes and ultimately a basal statement of purpose after roughly fifteen years of contemplation and practicum. Though we often get the weirdest, most doomed, or freakishly spawned stuff out of Finland for the sake of the zeitgeist I’d say garages all over the country more commonly feature the sort of chunking, groove heavy, multi-gen dippin’ death metal that these Oulu-area folks are churning out. Shits pretty decent, too.
Ah, the age old question “What is Finnish death metal?” In fact the answer cannot find any certain well-contained umbrella phenomenon beyond 1991, disregard anyone referring to “Finnish death metal” without further qualifiers unless they’ve literally intended to tell you where the band is from. What Revulsion peddle here is more-or-less where death metal was stylistically when it’d reached its first peak of commercial viability, 1995. That doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘Domination’, ‘Once Upon the Cross’ and ‘The Bleeding’ are all that it’ll take to unders… er, Actually, if you see the lineage that those albums had found within their influential spheres in the 2000’s and beyond it really is all you need to understand exactly what ‘Revulsion’ presents. I’d say you could compare this album to Krabathor‘s fantastic ‘Lies’, to Sinister‘s underrated ‘Aggressive Measures’, and even a bit of the groove-death stuff out of Finland and Sweden in the early-to-mid 2000’s such as Blood Red Throne, Aeon, Sotajumala and Torture Killer but ultimately all of these have roots in that mid-90’s United States specific chunk heavy, brutal-paced sound. Of course this might seem reductive but if we wheel back to Revulsion‘s first demo (‘Undressing External Humanity‘, 2010) we get rotten, grinding brutality framed into readable groove centered death metal pieces that fits this narrative well enough. If anything they’d simplified their core musical statement on their debut EP (‘Defiled‘, 2011) instead focusing on the brutal meter and tautness of interlocking parts. Voicing the grooves with sharper riffcraft and finding a vocalist who’d accentuate them would happen behind the scenes beyond that point as the band would chip away for five years ’til beginning to shop their evolution via the promotional single ‘Last Echoes of Life‘ (2016). This is where Revulsion had found identity and for the sake of objectivity, their approach was/is nonetheless status quo at face value.
As we cut through the standard ten song ~40 minute run of ‘Revulsion’ the first impression is less important than the deeper cuts as “Last Echoes of Life” and “Wake” (both from the 2016 demo) offer instantly gratifying if not unoriginal groove-thuggin’ death metal songs that hit hard and duck out before losing their power. This is as far as most people will get with this album, it scratches a certain standard of movement as much as it suggests an average record awaits. Those who’d stick around will immediately find some broader atmospheric intent on “Mustaa Hiiltä”, militant sludgy brutality on “Wastelands” and these two patterns essentially repeat in variation within the next couple of songs, an atmospheric piece and a groove-hammerer. At this point we’re still hearing hints of the brutality you’d find in compatriots such as Korpsesoturi but Revulsion leave us wanting more of this unhinged, plodding ruin found on closer “Viimeinen Rituaali”. There are big moments, big riffs, and some light nods to the sludged early 2000’s era of Morbid Angel along the way but if you’d stuck around to the end it is because you’re along for the ride and the ‘Back From the Grave‘ sized chunk and bonk of ‘Revulsion’ doesn’t insist on being a “riff” record just yet.
If we approach this as a basal statement of identity, a first blast of very intentional craft that took years to hone into shape then Revulsion have done a fine job and should be taken seriously. ‘Revulsion’ may not be bucking the norms of traditional, groove-ridden death metal but these Finns certainly aren’t following trends, bothering with bullshit, or reaching too far outside of their skillset. I didn’t personally find much of this record memorable in terms of any isolated moment and this is probably the only thing really hurting the experience, there isn’t a moment of gripping inspiration that connects beyond the impressive churning presented. If you’re hot for groove-focused death metal with the brutality of mid-to-late 90’s death metal chug engaged ‘Revulsion’ is a fine choice to make. A moderately high recommendation.
|LABEL(S):||Transcending Obscurity Records|
|RELEASE DATE:||February 5th, 2021|
|BUY & LISTEN:||Bandcamp [All Formats]|
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