If you can decipher precisely what the plop is happening on the cover art for Scissorgod, the third full length from Sweden’s Reveal!, then you either have a keener artistic eye than most or you’re just as weirdly demented as the person that put that thing together. The figure appears to be a targeting dummy of some sort, painted up, bling-ed up, crowned, and either armed to the teeth or stabbed artfully. Oh, and someone seems to have thrown a decorative pie at it? The whole thing is simultaneously disturbing and hilarious. Mostly, it’s totally bizarre, and it causes any listener to go into Scissorgod with some automatic expectations of what they might hear.
Some folks might call this “avant-garde” metal, but it fits neither the actual meaning of that term (this is neither aiming for nor arriving at some cutting edge of art), nor the term as a metal genre (not really any circus music here). It’s just really good metal made by weirdos that don’t feel the need to define any bounds. Each song is given the freedom to grow into whatever it needs to be, and these truly feel like songs that grew. The playful leads, effortlessly deft drums, gloriously audible and constantly-in-motion bass, and hugely charismatic (and disgusted) vocals all point to a band that not just enjoys writing oddball tunes, but also enjoys playing them.
Most tracks rotate around a main motif that is a little clangy and a little bouncy, but no two songs treat this basic formula the same. The title track has touch more post-punk than others and makes effective use of some horns for impact; “Clevermouth” is one of the oddest of the bunch, completely freeing the leads to dance around the whole tune while vocalist Crack – he of the very fitting pseudo – spews forth some of the nastiest lines on the record; and “Feeble Hearts” has passages of messy industrial elements and what appears to be a bassoon, but it also rocks out with an utterly sassy main guitar line.
The tunes that veer even further from the “formula” help to stretch out the album’s scope. Closer “Coin Toss,” with all its horns and theatricality, sounds Welcome to My Nightmare-era Alice Cooper perverted into some sort of really filthy black metal bar band music. The subdued and demented “Decomposer,” meanwhile, might be what happens when Mike Patton’s lounge singer vibe is… perverted into some sort of really filthy black metal bar band music. The only song here that remotely resembles actual black metal is the killer “Down Through the Hole,” and even that song can’t resist pushing the bass way up in the mix to cut through some really nice tremolo passages.
With all the stylistic shifts, it’s really the band’s chemistry as a unit – and their dedication to being unclean – that keeps Scissorgod in motion. (It also helps that it stops just short of 40 minutes.) In some ways, Reveal seems a bit like a spiritual mix of Lugubrum and Oranssi Pazuzu. They have the trash bag freeness of the former and some of the psychedelic vibes of the latter, but they also very much have their own personality, and never for a second does this album feel as if it’s directly aping any influences.
More than anything, it’s a great peek into the world of a group of real weirdos that seem hellbent on exploration. Scissorgod isn’t quite as weird as the weirdness that is weirding all over its weird cover art, but it’s just as perplexingly fun.