Over twenty years after breaking up, the storied Dutch group of Gore have returned to correct what the press release for Revanche describes as a long-regretted mistake. Said mistake is the 1992 double-CD album Lifelong Deadline, the twenty songs of which Revanche carves down to ten selections, subsequently revised and re-recorded.
Opening, as Lifelong Deadline did, with “Bad Ideas Obsession”, the new album promptly lays down some hard metal action, with clear-cut riffs, punchy drumming, and raw-rasping guitar licks weaving about in an instrumental loom. This basic mixture continues throughout the album, with the lamented over-production of the ’92 release being thankfully absent this time around. Strings squeal into feedback, the drums come through sharp and clear, while the bass chords switch between swamping out the rest of the players, and disappearing completely. Although, to a degree, the band’s emphasis on carving away the fat of the original versions leaves things feeling kind of skeletal and disjointed, the moment-to-moment experience is one of impressive technical skill, strongly emotive playing, and aggressive attitude made cool by its casual delivery.
The biggest downside is probably that there don’t seem to be any distinct shifts in the guitar’s pitch focus from song to song. Because of this, part of the songs quickly begins feeling repetitive, and doesn’t let up. The tendency for the drummer to match the taps of the strings also lends the songs something of a penetrative quality, which seems like a clever way of being aggressive right at the listener, but this wears quite thin when over-used. There are some notable changes in the tempos and moods, which helps keep a firm push going as the band jumps from one riff pattern to the next; and when the songs fully come together, there’s such fiery energy running through them that it’s hard not to get caught up in it, at least until the next weird lurch of production or rhythm.
As long as you can ignore the furry-esque cover art, there’s plenty of talent, skill, and ideas at work here, and the instrumental nature of the songs makes them likely to appeal to a wide swathe of metalheads. For a band making their return after more than two decades, it’s a solid enough release, and hopefully enough of a warm-up for the reunion to lead to some new material.