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Against Nature : Panoply

While aficionados of heavy music have been fretting over whether this band or that is true doom, or whether Sharon Osbourne or Phil Anselmo is a bigger creep, something important has been brewing in deepest Baltimore. Those of you who were at the Templars of Doom fest in Indianapolis know what I'm talking about. The group that recorded the first Revelation album back in 1990, 'Salvation's Answer', is back, only this time they're called Against Nature. They've picked up the mighty legacy of the first two Revelation albums, reinterpreted it, and run with it like nobody's business. The ensuing flood of creativity, available as two separate albums, is now available for discerning doomsters everywhere.

Revelation began life in the 1980s in Baltimore, influenced by the finest in underground metal sounds such as Exodus, Trouble, Dream Death/Penance, Celtic Frost, and of course the Almighty 'Sabbath. The thrash/doom tension inherent in their early demos resolved itself towards doom to the point where Rise Above, the label on which 'Salvation's Answer' appeared, saw fit to print "Doom" in a black circle underneath the group's logo. The music within, though obviously recognisable as being in the 'Sabbath tradition, really didn't sound quite like anyone else. The chord progressions were unorthodox, while the lyrics, though doomy, were literate, abstracted and personalized. It was all a bit too left field for those who were not willing to take chances, and lets face it, most people are sheep, even in the underground. The follow-up release of the excellent 'Never Comes Silence' on the Hellhound label, perhaps the most important label in the history of doom, affected no compromise. The album may have won enthusiasts from those who appreciate intelligence with their doom, but the crowds at the many and diverse Revelation gigs did not exactly hit stadium levels, and the group, who had already lost bassist Bert Hall, went on hiatus when guitarist and vocalist John Brenner left music. The band later returned for another album with doomlord Dennis Cornelius at the helm, while original drummer Steve Branagan continued to pound the skins.

Battling depression, Brenner stopped listening to heavy music in the 90s, keeping his toe in the pool only to the extent of playing bass with Hall in the jazz group Poets & Fascists in the late 90s. Brenner opted to dive back in ca. 2000, reportedly because of the influence of Rush. Yes, Rush. Their influence in Revelation/Against Nature's music should not be underestimated. Anyway, it was time for the 'Salvation's Answer' crew to coalesce around a new doom vision. Reflecting that vision, they renamed themselves Against Nature, which is the first song on 'Never Comes Silence'. Revelation continued to soldier on under Dennis' black banner. Against Nature's tuneage retains the unusual, rather intellectual song structure and unique lyrics for which early Revelation was known, but the songs are shorter, more mature, more experimental, and more confident. But never fear, those who love the first two Revelation albums will love these as well. I just don't think this group has it in them to be conventional! Deep listeners will be able to discern the influence of all those hours of jazz listening; the group has also obviously been listening to Unorthodox and Rush, as well as old favorites 'Sabbath and Penance.

I mentioned the Against Nature gig in Indianapolis. This was their first concert in well over 10 years, and although there might have been a trainwreck moment or two, it was a fantastic and most enjoyable show. Clearly, these dudes are musician's musicians, as evidenced by the grinning horde at the front of the stage, formed by members of Orodruin, While Heaven Wept, and Reverend Bizarre, not to mention a few of us civilian types. On the heels of that experience, the group has released two albums. While two songs on 'Appease' date back to 1992, the sound is fresh, representing a significant forward stride for the group. It's available from the band, and the first 100 copies come in a signed and numbered edition. The second album, 'Panoply', is planned to be available as a download only, on the group's website. One Templar's attendee characterized the Indianapolis Against Nature gig as "historic", and it's hard to argue that. Those of you who missed that show - and there are far too many of you - need to pick up on these platters, if for no other reason than to have something worthwhile to talk about the next time someone brings up Sharon.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Pain by Numbers
2. Instauration
3. Two Years in Texas
4. Panoply
5. Free Radical
6. Mere Rebels
7. Children Cope with Boredom
8. Splatterism
9. Everyday Genius

Duration : Approx. 37 minutes

Visit the Against Nature bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Kevin McHugh
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