Always walks uphill
But beneath his feet are the broken bones of flawed men"
Formed in 2000, Revenge is an Edmonton-based bestial black / war metal project founded by James Read as a continuation of the style heard in his previous band Conqueror. The act is associated with the infamous Ross Bay Cult school of bestial black metal bands, which was spearheaded by Blasphemy.
Over more than 15 years of activity, Revenge have released five full-length studio albums (plus a couple extended plays and splits) and have played shows worldwide on concert tours alongside bands such as Behemoth, Deicide, Amon Amarth, Inquisition, Watain, and Mayhem. The band's studio lineup is drummer / vocalist James Read on drums and Chris Ross AKA Vermin on bass and rhythm guitar. For live shows James Read fills only kit duties while Vermin does guitars and primary vocals, with Tim Grieco AKA Haasiophis joining them on bass and additional vocals. Former members include Pete Helmkamp of Angelcorpse and Order From Chaos (who played bass and did occasional vocals for Revenge's first three studio albums) and early session members Attacker and Dehumanizer.
Appropriately enough, Revenge's music can be described as the sonic manifestation of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. James Read has gone on the record stating that when people listen to Revenge's music, they should envision "having their faces smashed in with (his) steel toed boots." Here are a few of the chaotic elements that make up the nuclear holocaust that is a typical Revenge song:
- downtuned, evil, razor-sharp guitar riffs
- blisteringly fast guitar solos with frequent dive-bombs and reckless fretboard noodling
- artillery barrages of blast beats and double bass drumming
- crude, steamroller-esque basslines
- a guitar tone reminiscent of an MG-42
- abrupt tempo changes from groovy, uptempo mosh breaks to chaotic blast sections to malevolent, doomy breakdowns
- demon-possessed parrot squawking for high vocals
- intimidating lows in the form of pitch-shifted gutturals similar to those heard in goregrind
Many of these traits were also seen in Conqueror, J. Read's even more barbaric precursor band to Revenge.
Revenge's lyrics (or the short, random snippets of them that appear in the album booklets) are usually sentimental ballads about cuddling with puppies and sunny days spent in grassy meadows. In all seriousness, the band's lyrics more-or-less mirror the brutality and chaos heard in their music proper. They are misanthropic as fuck, and usually come off as virulent manifestos delving into topics like individualism, anti-Christian sentiment, treason, elitism, genocide, domination, militant sloganeering, social Darwinism and declarations of, well, revenge. Judging from song titles such as "Wolf Slave Protocol (Choose Your Side)", "Genocide Conquest", "Filth Solution (Intolerance)", "Traitor Crucifixion", "Nihilist Militant (Total Rejection)", "Cleansing Siege (Take Them Down)", "Scorned Detractor (Trust No One)", "Us and Them (High Power)"... yeah, Revenge likely won't be doing any collaborations with the Backstreet Boys any time soon.
Revenge is considered by some to be the most consistent (and consistently savage) band in all of metal. There is very little noticeable progression in their music from album to album. Similarly, all of their album titles follow the Three.Brutal.Words separated by periods format (for example, Scum.Collapse.Eradication). Being an aesthetic as much as a band, each Revenge album cover bears a unique insignia similar to one that a military unit would have; combining a few common assets such as barbed wire, skulls, bones, nails, daggers, gas masks, or nooses.
- James Read - drums, studio vocals
- Chris "Vermin" Ross - guitars, studio bass, live vocals
- Tim "Haasiophis" Greico - live bass, live vocals
- Pete Helmkamp - bass, vocals
- "Attacker" - bass
- "Dehumanizer" - guitars
- 2001: Attack.Blood.Revenge EP (Dark Horizon Records)
- 2002: Superion.Command.Destroy EP (War Hammer Records)
- 2003: Triumph.Genocide.Antichrist (Osmose Productions)
- 2003: Deathless Will split EP with Arkhon Infaustus (Osmose Productions)
- 2004: Victory.Intolerance.Mastery (Osmose Productions)
- 2008: Infiltration.Downfall.Death (Osmose Productions)
- 2012: Scum.Collapse.Eradication (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
- 2012: Retaliation.Doom.Eradication EP (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
- 2015: Holocaustic Death March to Humanity's Doom split EP with Black Witchery (Nuclear War Now! Productions)
- 2015: Behold.Total.Rejection (Season of Mist Records)
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: This also applies to J. Read's previous band Conqueror.
- All Drummers Are Animals: James Read, no fucking contest. What he lacks in technicality he makes up for ten times over in sheer relentlessness. Yet because of this alone, his style behind the kit is more crushing and impressive than most modern extreme metal drummers. In an interview early in the band's career, James talked about how he and the recording engineer for Attack.Blood.Revenge had a disagreement about how the drums were to be produced... James wanted his snare to sound like a skull being crushed.
- Bald of Awesome: Vermin and ex-bassist Pete Helmkamp both exhibit this trope. Perhaps intentional considering that Revenge are friends with (and were inspired by) Blasphemy, the original "black metal skinheads".
- Cover Version: Revenge have covered two Bathory songs ("War" and an especially rowdy version of "Equimanthorn"), plus "Lamb" by the cult United States black metal band Von.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: an especially brutal example of this trope can be heard at around 3 minutes and 45 seconds into the song "Mobilization Rites" off their latest record Behold.Total.Rejection.
- Idiosyncratic Album Theming: If you want an idea of just how consistent Revenge is as a band, perhaps the biggest deviation Behold.Total.Rejection takes from previous albums is that it has ten tracks and not eight (making it their longest record yet).
- Idiosyncratic Cover Art: Not unlike their album titles (and music itself), Revenge's album art is very formulaic. Every piece is a simple black-and-white cover with the band's logo on top, a unique and brutal symbol created for the release in the center (bordered with a shape outline of barbed wire), and the album title along the bottom printed in the Fette Fraktur typeface.
- Indecipherable Lyrics: J. Read delivers virtually all Revenge lyrics in either a psychotic shrieking battlecry or a guttural pitch-shifted howl. However, when Pete Helmkamp was in the band, his verses could sometimes be made out; they were barked in a raspy, phlegmy snarl.
- Looped Lyrics: The last 40 or so seconds of "Genocide Conquest", the final track on their debut album (2003's Triumph.Genocide.Antichrist) is the word "revenge" ominously repeated in a heartbeat-like, pitch-shifted growl.
- Medley: "Doom Eradication" off the Retaliation.Doom.Eradication promo 7-inch EP.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: Compared to other black metal bands (and even fellow bestial black metal bands) Revenge's album covers are quite simple, and intentionally so. Ironically, the ultra-limited "diehard" vinyl reissues of Revenge albums can be even more minimalist in design. ◊
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Always hard 11.
- Murder Ballad: Several, although genocide ballad would probably be a more accurate term.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Inverted; if anything Revenge would serve to invoke said beast.
- Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Surprisingly averted. For a band of self-described "Antichrist supremacists", Revenge make no mention of Satan, although the Luciferan archetype can be picked up on in their lyrics and overall aesthetic.
- Obligatory Bondage Song: "Blood Noose (Hog Tied Like Swine)", although the context undoubtedly is more violent than erotic...
- Power Trio: Revenge's live lineup, emphasis on "power".
- Sampling: The live intro played before some Revenge shows is a monologue from Taxi Driver over an air raid siren.
- Self Empowerment Anthem: While most wouldn't exactly consider lyrics like "Waiting for the handout is like waiting to die" positive, to the band's audience they might prove to be empowering.
- Sinister Shades: Like a few other war metal bands, Revenge opt against the corpse paint traditionally associated with black metal in favor of these, as seen in some promo photographs. ◊
- Snakes Are Sinister: Live bassist-vocalist Tim Greico goes by the stage name Haasiophis, which is an extinct genus of snakes with hind limbs.
- Suicide Attack: It's implied that the subjects of the lyrics to "Mass Death Mass" are about to perpetrate this.
- Three Chords and the Truth: Revenge sacrifice technical proficiency and complex songwriting for outright savagery in their musicianship. To call it a trade-off would be an understatement.
- Vocal Tag Team: Heard in Revenge live shows but also on-record when Helmkamp was in the band, and even between J. Read's two vocal styles.