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On first glance Australian death metal combo Revulsed has the appearance of a typical, by-the-book Suffocation clone in the often reviled post-1990s tradition. First looks can be, and often are, deceiving. in case of Revulsed there’s far more present beneath the surface than initially meets the eye. While all signs point towards Revulsed being the type band that Unique Leader Records used to sign en masse prior to 2010 ‘Infernal Atrocity’ isn’t as stereotypical as it looks. The album looks the part but closer scrutiny reveals that there’s far more behind its frankly bog-standard exterior.

The band was formed by Melbourne scene veteran and multi-instrumentalist Jayson Sherlock in 2010 after leaving an earlier project. Sherlock is an institution of the Australian metal scene with his earliest efforts going as far back as 1990 with power metal outfit Light Force. He was the brains and brawns behind Mortification’s most revered efforts: 1990’s ‘Mortification’ and 1991’s ‘Scrolls Of the Megilloth’, both sub-classics of the then-nascent death metal genre. After his defection from that band he formed doom metal combo Paramaecium and released two highly acclaimed albums with 1993’s ‘Exhumed Of the Earth’ and 1996’s ‘Within the Ancient Forest’. Next to his pioneering work in the death – and doom metal genres Sherlock also was the creative force behind the controversial Horde, the earliest unblack metal band of note – and he is rumoured to also allegedly be the mysterious figure behind the pre-Horde constellation Vomoth.

revulsed-bandJoining Sherlock is fellow Australian Sheldon D’Costa who cut his teeth in a number of low-profile acts that never went anywhere. Fronting Revulsed is Konstantin Lühring, frontman of German underground act Despondency, who has lend his voice to the likes of Defeated Sanity, and Gallery Of Darkness, among others. Lühring is a practitioner in tradition of erstwhile Disgorge vocalist Matti Way, who himself is a disciple of the ‘Butchered at Birth’ Chris Barnes and Antti Boman (Demilich) school of growlers. During his strongest moments Lühring approaches Craig Pillard era Incantation territory. For the recordings of the album D’Costa laid down all bass guitar parts in the studio. Rounding out the band is bass guitarist Mark Smith who joined after the completion of the record. Of the quartet Jayson Sherlock is the most versatile and multi-talented as he plays guitar and bass guitar, next to the drums which remain his primary instrument.

Perhaps to its detriment is that Revulsed wallows in millennial genre tropes that don’t always do it justice. The songtitles, for example, are reminiscent of both Disgorge and Suffocation, and their league of faceless, second-tier imitators. Titles as Pestilential Articulation, Imposed Cognitive Reconstruction, and Enticement to Carnivorous Impoverishment generally don’t suggest much more beyond tired gore clichés. It is here that Revulsed deviate from what is commonly seen as the norm. The lyrics for the most part are conventional for the genre with lively imagery of desiccation and death. Only the trio of Rapacious Engorgement, Enticement to Carnivorous Impoverishment, and Infernal Atrocity have ever so light religious undertones in their chosen imagery, but in all it is negligible within the grand scheme of things. It isn’t as pronounced here as on the signature works Sherlock appeared on with Mortification and Paramaecium.

‘Infernal Atrocity’ is one of the best contemporary death metal albums

As Revulsed is old-fashioned in its approach to songwriting the greatest forte of the album is the diversity of its assault. With both Sherlock and D’Costa being bass players they understand the importance of said instrument. ‘Infernal Atrocity’ is custodian to no less than three tracks wherein the bass guitar features prominently, and even gets a solo break. This happens with Agonising Putrid Self-Infliction, Archetypal Cauterization, and Enticement to Carnivorous Impoverishment. As with any traditional genre band Revulsed doesn’t shy away from guitar solos. Rapacious Engorgement, Imposed Cognitive Reconstruction, Transmutational Craniotomy, Archetypal Cauterization, and Celestial Perspicacity contain the greatest solos from the record. The stand-out tracks of the album are Transmutational Craniotomy (because it is reminiscent of the darkest, early Mortification material), and Infernal Atrocity (mostly because it is much slower and almost dirge-like, in tradition of ‘Blessed Are the SickMorbid Angel). Unfortunately the title track is somewhat anticlimactic as it is terribly underdeveloped and merely hints at the idea of what it could have been had it been arranged properly into a full-blown song.

‘Infernal Atrocity’ was assembled at three different studios over two continents. The lead -, rhythm, and bass guitar were laid down at Ears to Hear Studios by Sheldon D’Costa. The drums were recorded at Echidna Studio in Christmas Hills, Victoria with Jayson Sherlock producing. Finally, the vocals were recorded at Soundlodge Studios in Germany with Jörg Uken behind the console. The album was mixed and mastered by Sherlock and D’Costa. As expected of the membership the production is incredibly bass-centric and crunchy. The drums in particular have a monstrous tone, and sound veritably commanding, especially the kicks are thunderous. While bathing in a veneer of modernity the production is never too overly digital or sterile sounding. Swedish graphic designer Pär Olofsson was responsible for the artwork, and his style is instantly recognizable. Admittedly, it’s one of his more impressive recent canvasses. With over thirty years of collective experience under its belt Revulsed has crafted one of the better contemporary death metal albums.

The album, bland title notwithstanding, is traditional in spirit and approach, but contemporary and cutting-edge on all other fronts. It is a welcome return for Jayson Sherlock who managed in transcending obscurity after the demise of Paramaecium. With Mortification considered a spent force creatively, it’s heartening to see one of the driving forces behind said band make such a convincing return. Hopefully this translates into opportunities for Revulsed so that they can build their own legacy. ‘Infernal Atrocity’ should appeal to modern – as well as traditional genre fans.

Let us Raise the Chalice in reverie!

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Wouter Roemers Wouter Roemers is a self-professed elitist, music critic, and death metal purist from Belgium. Known for his outspokenness and frank opinions on all things metal, bands and industry alike. Proprietor of Least Worst Option where he spends inordinate amount of time analyzing records three people care about.