REVEAL! – Doppelherz (2021)REVIEW

With the waking grog of the previous nights insanity still fleeting from blurred eyes so looses the crust from all seeping corners of the occult-stained mind, a stream that’d send permission for thee yawning trash-filled mouth to finally dump away what toxic sputum were built between sleeping, watching and waiting. For what? Whatever dumps into pig-brained trashmouth’s maw it eats and reacts accordingly, shitting where it sits and dealing with it by way of an old-timey wooden clothespin set neatly upon snout. What festers must eventually explode to a gloriously black mess, though, and these days the curtains have been pulled far open, enough that the skull is seemingly institutionalized by the daylight. When the pig-mouth runs free — The hog-heart is doubled. ‘Doppelherz‘ could very well be the duality of the ‘self’ acknowledged with prideful euphemism, or, it could be damning symbolism for the incompatibility available to all unwilling participants in the piling devolution of modern man. For Uppsala, Sweden-based morbid black/death noisepunks Reveal! it is signet of maturity that proffers advanced expressionism finding their tumbling signature in the deep-set stink of self-destructive behaviorism.

Where could they go from there? At face value this fourth album from these long-standing Scandinavian extreme metal/heavy rock musicians could be received as iteration of the art rock/post-punk affected genius of ‘Scissorgod‘ (2019), an Album of the Year contender for my own taste. Upon closer inspection the whole of the experience is quite different, a deeper turn in all directions from a similar jumping off point. Whereas that previous album seemed to take its rhythmic map and meter from the rambling mania of Touch and Go Records elite, or, late 80’s/early 90’s pre-‘Nevermind‘ rock music in general ‘Doppelherz‘ instead manages a complete and detailed reconsideration of Reveal!‘s own realm, using their own coattails for spiraling momentum. The “arcane black/death metal band whom have great taste in post-punk/noise rock” is still the right way to receive their dark transmission but it is worth suggesting that the quartet have found an increasing set of modular palettes to paint with, now mixing medium more often into shades of sharper contrast rather than over-blending into the usual greys and beiges of outsider rock from the extreme metal infused musician’s perspective. Their sound remains profoundly singular and attitude defiantly filth-ridden.

Turning away from arthouse destitution wouldn’t have necessarily revealed a These Immortal Souls cover band in terms of rhythm but “cleaning up” their reverb heavy production has revealed the lithe and giga-brained caliber of inventive freakout rock available within Reveal!‘s ranks. Folks attuned to early 90’s The Jesus Lizard (see: ‘Goat’, ‘Head’) and late 80’s Killdozer will find great satisfaction in the fastest and most kinetic material from the haze these guys have generated post-2015. ‘Doppelherz‘ progresses this ideal with action in mind, the band having delivered an notably reverb frosted black metallic, bristling mad yet atmospheric post-punk record just a few years prior. In practice this indicates a clearest and bursting forth presence, reserving the dark inner echo of blackened extreme metal sound design for the vocals and only when called for. Souped-up sound design hasn’t impeded the darkest mania of Reveal!, though; In fact a glass-dipped and boiling render seems to only intensify the dynamic motion of this fourth record from the band, leaving he brooding wiles of the past for stomping nigh progressive turns of rhythmic phrase. Better production, more accessible music, right? In defiance of the expected path forward, that which most often finds the naïve lending their spirits unto more current and accessible rock music, we find Reveal! boldly embracing their growling inner junkie, double down on traits that’d given their breakthrough sophomore album, ‘Flystrips‘ (2016), its massive character while employing the possibilities beyond the boundary-busting ‘Scissorgod’.

Much as I was expecting a new breaking point or some sort of fresh wounding from Reveal! it’d taken some handful of listens to soak in the profound disillusionment available on ‘Doppelherz‘, less a volatile reaction and more a greying sigh of resentment and poking-fun at the absurdity of the times. It is not that they’ve stopping spitting into the face of anyone within range but that this album is not pure anxietous release but that it offers some truly miserable points of darkness along the way. The solitarily waltzed-into, anthemic entrance of opener “Cocoon (Bitch Regalia)” is far too exuberant to be one of those points but it does pit the skull once in motion, a trashing of the troglodytic or some sort of troglodytic thrashing maniac piece that’d recall everything from Witch Trail to ‘Dimension Hatröss’ (see also: “Clearly, God Damn”) deep cuts as searing use of guitar effects and frantic, punkish rhythms continue to expand upon this Negative Plane-esque sonic ideal taken to a personal, far-off extreme beyond 2011.

Side A generally concerns itself with alternating its buzz between tribal freakout rock manifesto, an immense echoing into the void and the creeping n’ slinking mustiness which folks familiar with ‘Scissorgod’ will appreciate in this elevated form. Beyond its brilliant opening fanfare and intense mood-detuning wrath “Inshallah” is itself an prime evidentiary finding as I argue for this ascension of Reveal! into maturity, not only for the composition of the piece but a memorable sort of cleverness which only appreciates upon return. This only builds in momentum as the martial beats and bowed triplets of “Cokkkfights” hover in fly infested air together, the fantastically bulbous bass guitar tone and its lines the only thing able to break through the swarming harass of the song. A certain brand of ugly punk sneer, buttered with nihilistic intelligence, a la late 80’s Victim’s Family, begins to rear its maniac head at this point on the album and there I’d found that magick which has long kept Reveal! in the graces of my own personal favorites this last half-decade or so. Things only grow more tumultuous from here but it is worth noting that somewhere between “Cokkkfights” and “Clearly, God Damn” I’d felt ‘Doppelherz’ wasn’t plainly a follow up and that these songs would manifest similarly memorable function over time.

Side B finds us deep within the circus of the flayed mind, no longer reacting to new stimuli but mulling and spiraling out of control alongside what possible amplification of torment will assuredly ensue. “Stalactites (When Cast Down the Mountain)” had to be set right here as tone-setting piece for the second half of the experience and not for its slow creeping bassline into movement but the movement itself which finds the pace and density of riff intensifying to a point that provides precedence for the final few pieces of the album, or, the great dissolution into static hiss. The pulsating roll of “Bags of Shine” and its clanking bass-forward rush meeting hand-in-hand with subtle ethereal backing vocals is no less, or perhaps more, of an achievement than the stellarly peaks offered up front on Side A. At this point I’d felt Reveal! had communicated a rhythmic signature of their own and this was only compounded by the extreme modulations found on standout single “Some Marionettes, Some Kites (A Few Knives)” a song that I was impressed with beforehand to the point that I’d bought the 7″ version. The end of ‘Doppelherz‘ is arguably its peak, a second wind and/or equal partner to its energetic opening salvo and that is to say that the full listen is beyond worthy as a whole and swelling presentation.

I’d already been invested as a fan of Reveal! for a decade when ‘Doppelherz‘ hit my inbox, I distinctly remember howling like a lunatic at folks online for months when ‘Nocturne of Eyes and Teeth’ released back in 2011. Some consideration for my own available sentience, or, objectivity is worthwhile. At this point I’ve never rated a Reveal! release lower than the highest possible point of recommendation on any given scale, this one was a quick and easy sell; It took one listen to hit me, a good slap to the neck with a bat just like the prior two releases. You’d think that’d be the worst perspective in terms of pure objectivity but attending the entire journey up to this point isn’t for the sake of finding a legacy to huddle next to, the main reason this band ever appealed to me in the first place was the defiant eccentricity their releases have all embraced. So, with that in mind my only major criticism is that ‘Doppelherz‘ is a leap in some ways (presentation, signature development, songcraft) and a step in others (sound design, variety, performance). All is in downward motion, life is still endless despair without purpose. I wouldn’t go as far as calling it a companion to ‘Scissorgod’ but a direct one-legged vault off of its most successful moments. Since I’d felt just as strong about that album there is some personal pressure to consider ‘Doppelherz‘ just as good or better. Well, it is, and I think that’ll be readily apparent to any similar fandom. I would still recommend ‘Flystrips’ as the best point of induction for the band’s discography but they’ve not lost a bit of their cult kingship the fourth time around. Highest recommendation.

Highest recommendation. (100/100)

Rating: 10 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Sepulchral Voice Records
RELEASE DATE:December 10th, 2021
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp
GENRE(S):Blackened Death/Noise Rock,
Extreme Deathrock/Post-Punk

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