When you think of the word ‘Canada’, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Mounties? Bears? Poutine? Maple Syrup? Terrence and Phillip, flapping heads and fart jokes? Alanis Morrisette songs, that are probably now firmly planted in your head just from reading the name? Isn’t it ironic, don’t you think? Devin Townsend?
Now that I’ve run the full gamut of stereotypes, let me assure you this – these Canucks have nothing in common with any of the above. If anything, the only link drawn here is the pissed-off ferocity of the latter artist, in Townsends’ fiercest Strapping Young Lad moments.
Sharp drum rolls from Julia Geaman launch the band full throttle from the get-go on opening track Hex. Revenger is definitely not hanging around At The Gates – they launch straight into a thrash assault reminiscent of Europe’s finest melodeath, and death-thrashers such as Dew-Scented. Vocalist Andrew Bailey fits the mould perfectly, keeping that classic almost-deathly thrash rasp that the genre espouses of late. Punchy basslines by JP Poulin play alongside the intricate guitarwork of Sean Parkinson, who keeps things technical but groovy. Things are definitely seeking to break the mould on the opener, and that’s fine – it’s a tried and true formula, including the requisite tasty soloing and leads.
A pummelling outro and we are launched straight into the sharp screams of Bailey, introducing the chug-and-lead heavy gallop of Anti-Life. Once again, things proceed as before with catchy riffage which blends as much technical thrash as it does metalcore and melodeath, essentially modern metal. What keeps these guys from getting too stale with this approach, however, is the absolute on-a-dime precision with which they twist and turn together through passages. Take the solo in this song; instead of diminishing the riff in favour of the flashy guitarwork, Parkinson chooses instead to tightly weave between the rhythm section battery, creating a nice clarity and accuracy.
There are moments where things are pushed just beyond the brink of thrash and into death territory, too. The aforementioned track breaks into a blasting mid-section, breaking up the groove and thrash feel elsewhere.
We Want Blood is a song title so cheesy, it made me think of Abe Simpson (‘We paid for blood!’). Fortunately, the song is anything but, with a veritably evil-sounding verse riff twisting and turning around consistently breakneck drumming. ‘We want blood!’, Bailey demands, in between frenetic runs. Poulin’s sneaky little slap and pops make their way into the fray throughout too, punctuating sharply with power chords to give some standout moments from the low-end. Again, another titbit to keep from getting stale.
It’s getting clear by this point that Revenger are cognisant of being lumped in that modern constellation of groove-laden genres; but don’t seem to give a rat’s either. As someone who feels they completely burned themselves out on thrash a while back, who almost can’t stand to look at a metalcore album cover through over-exposure, I can safely allay those fears for those who similarly overcooked that phase in their metal listening careers.
The Man Who Shot God begins with an interesting little bass run, before flinging back into the techy melodic riff-swagger, and those ever-consistent rasps and throaty roars. The thrash runs here are punctuated with some interesting stop/start timing by all instruments and flourishes, refusing to stick to just hammering out the one catchy verse riff till the chorus blows over again.
It’s all standard fare, here, even to the bend-and-shred heavy soloing. But it’s standard fare pushed to technical limits, which regains interest just as your brain starts writing it off as yet another groove metal band. In fact, closing track The Watcher, the strongest on the EP in my opinion, ramps this up to eleven, giving only brief repose and respite for thick groove here and there before the (double-kick) pedal is dialled back up once more. The little bass-and-guitar duel breaks things up nicely before the ‘core-ish breakdown and solo you’ve heard a thousand times comes along. Doesn’t matter. It’s just so damn tightly woven, they’ve packed so many damn riffs into one EP, I can guarantee, by the time the super-militaristic drum-and-bass outro rolls out under those soaring Slayer-y leads, you’ve had too much fun.
Un-cross those arms; take your guard down for a bit. You’re well within your rights to be cautious about this one, as it contains many elements of modern metal we’ve heard so much we could recite them in cryostasis. ‘The New Mythology: Vol. 1’, however, is such an intricate, skilful and hyperactive spin on a well-trodden template that I’d recommend to all – even the most grizzled, cynical scene veterans.
Purchase ‘The New Mythology Vol. 1’ here.