Revel In Flesh – Manifested Darkness

Revel In Flesh is a very young band, with their first album Deathevokation released only in 2012. Their second album, Manifested Darkness, is being released by underground label FDA Rekotz in 2013. I remember when Entombed‘s Left Hand Path came out… and turned the death metal world on it’s ear. This Teutonic terror duo (live, they are a 5-pc.), Revel In Flesh, are paying homage to many of their metallic, bestial forefathers with Manifested Darkness.

RIF Manifested Darkness cover 500px

Swedish death metal is a genre close to my heart. I love the mid-tempo groove, the harsh bleakness, and the throat-slitting guitar riffing. It seems to be one of the most influential genres to arise in the late 1980’s through mid 1990’s. Bands considered founding fathers a.k.a forefathers of the genre are now classic: Entombed, At The Gates, Grave, Unleashed… these guys founded a rock-solid metal movement which is still strong today. That said, those are some mighty big shoes to fill, and only a true top-notch ‘A List’ band will be able to deliver an album that’s as gripping and intense as those early releases were.

Band name aside, what this album does very well, right from the beginning, is bring back sonic memories immediately with titles like “Warmaster”‘ (Bolt Thrower), “Revel In Flesh” (Entombed), and “Deathmarch” (a side project of Jorgen Sandstrom‘s). Even the bonus track very directly invokes another forefather band: Autopsy. They’ve included a cover of the Autopsy classic “Twisted Mass Of Burnt Decay” on this disc. So now that the listener has all of these great bands playing through their mind’s ‘radio station’, when they put Manifested Darkness on and crank up the volume, does it satisfy those urges to hear some good old-school Swe-death?

Well… sort-of. In places it does manage to nail the Entombed-ish groove and vibe. It’s a mean, toothy, aggressive, uptempo album. The band definitely has the buzzsaw guitar and ‘raunchy’ deep production going, but with that special Sunlight/Skogsberg touch. There is a nice variety to the overall timing or tempo of each tune. It’s ridiculously heavy, and easily liked. In places, it’s good at conjuring back bands as diverse as Metallica (the bell on “Deathmarch”) to Burzum (tremolo picking in “Dominate The Rotten”). With three songs on this album clocking over six minutes each, it’s a bit of an epic journey in to… averageness. If you were not privileged to live through when this genre actually formed and then broke to the world, this album might be a fantastic introduction, a wonderful way to whet your palate to some of the intensity that was ‘Scandinavian Death Metal’ back in the day. If you remember paper fanzines with little flyers inside that had distro names stamped on the back, the days before the PMRC mandated ‘explicit lyrics’ stickers on everything, or saving up summer job money to buy Into The Grave when it came out initially… you might enjoy listening for Revel In Flesh’s nods to the gods. “Deathmarch” is my favorite ‘song-scape’ on the album, incorporating a variety of musical ideas that piqué my interest.

RIF Full Live Band Photo e

Criticism: The album would benefit greatly from a lyric sheet to add something to the listener’s perception of the vocals besides ‘oh, more growling’. That said, it’s ‘par for the course’: many of the early death metal bands didn’t include lyrics because then, an 8-panel fold-out card in a cassette tape was too expensive to print! Don’t put this on expecting the next Hallucinating Anxiety. While this disc may be an instant classic to some, to those who ‘lived and breathed’ “the Stockholm death invasion” back in the 1990’s, this is… a good re-collective effort, a nice homage. The sheer number of musical ‘nods’ is jaw-dropping. The band is young, and experience will develop their songwriting ‘scope’ beyond what it is today. They have a wonderful concept here they can develop. Their next efforts may well become a ten-ton mammoth… give them some time.

The cover art is fantastic. A highly-detailed painting of ruins done in a subtle color scheme evoke bleakness and despair without being offensive in the slightest. (There are even a couple of vague skully-faces in the cobwebs, evoking Morbid Angel‘s Altars Of Madness). It’s not a virtuosic album. Neither was Celtic Frost‘s Morbid Tales (one of my favorite releases in any genre of metal of all time) – this is, in no way, considered a negative. It is a rock-solid ‘Early 1990’s Euro Death 101’ listening mini-course. It’s a highly concentrated amalgamation of nods, quotations, influences, and old-fashioned catchy songwriting that will keep you on your proverbial toes, listening for the next good thing the band offers. They have a lot of fleeting, great ideas on show, ready to be enjoyed.

Track Listing:
Revel In Flesh
Dominate The Rotten
Manifested Darkness
Torment In Fire
The Maggot Colony
Operation Citadel
Rotting In The Void
Twisted Mass Of Burnt Decay (CD only, bonus track)

Haubersson: Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Maggesson: Drums, Additional Lead Guitars, FX

Official Band Website
Official Band Facebook Page

About Iris North

My formal position is: editor and music reviewer. I joined the PlanetMosh army in 2012. I enjoy extreme metal, 'shred' guitar, hard rock, prog rock, punk, and... silly pop music!