Sometimes a thing is just so wrong that it’s right. Cue Finland’s Ride for Revenge, entering from stage disgusting. Although the band has been fairly prolific throughout the last decade or so, much of their past work hasn’t quite hit the mark for me. On Thy Horrendous Yearning, however, Ride for Revenge sounds like Furze making an Ildjarn record, which means that it’s just the right kind of wrongness. Thy Horrendous Yearning is an ugly, grotesque, rude, and unaccommodating album. It’s great!
The core of Ride for Revenge’s sound on Thy Horrendous Yearning is a slow, raw, and hypnotic black metal that seems to draw inspiration not so much from any particular wave or exemplar of black metal, but from anything gross and grimy, which means you might hear something that sounds like very early Sodom, Sarcofago, Beherit, and Celtic Frost, but also something that sounds like Arphaxat or Autopsy or even Filth-era Swans (check the opening of “The Reversed Cross,” chums). Still, despite its intentional crudeness, Thy Horrendous Yearning is quite smartly put together, and the more one listens, the subtler touches really stand out.
Proper album opener “Soul Abortion” spends nearly all of its fourteen minutes riding the same exact scuzzy groove, dragging its grossly rumbling 3/3/2 riff through such muck that it sounds like the spiritual twin to Demoncy’s Joined in Darkness. Extra layers of guitar occasionally solo rudimentarily over the main riff, but it’s not until the song’s final two or three minutes are cannibalized by hellacious scraping and clattering feedback that you realize just how unfriendly it is. The title track is a two-minute blast that sounds like it was recorded live or taken from a completely different session than the rest of the album, because… why not, I guess? These are the sort of choices that might give squares like me pause, but Ride for Revenge isn’t about squares, or even circles; Ride for Revenge is about a long unbroken line that stretches from here to a gleefully beckoned oblivion.
“The Reversed Cross” might be the album highlight, particularly in its fantastic second half, where the bass takes an unexpectedly melodic lead role, though its explorations all take place underneath a fine layer of vocal bilge and keyboards. Vocalist Harald Mentor’s repeated proclamation of “NO! HEAVEN! NO! HEAVEN! NO! HEAVEN!” makes for a particularly effective blunt instrument. Then, on album closer “Secrets of Cryptic Metal” (great song title, by the way), Ride for Revenge pull in some guitar effects or something that makes it sound like they stole Menace Ruine’s gear and then treated it very rudely. As the song winds its strange, mellow way to the finish, it starts to sound not that far distant from the psych-folk/garage rock of the oddball Swedish collective Goat, because again… why not, right?
So, with an album this gross and strange and mean, maybe “Is it good?” isn’t quite the right question. What I can tell you (and this is why I keep coming back to Furze as a rough point of comparison) is that the overwhelming vibe I get from Thy Horrendous Yearning is that it is accidentally great. I don’t mean to argue that Ride for Revenge don’t know what they’re doing, but rather that the pieces they’re working with (very long songs, very little riff variation, a general attitude of hostility or at least antipathy to the listener) really oughtn’t come together into such a compelling whole.
And yet, there it is: gross music for gross people. It’s a beautiful thing.