Revenge At All Costs fizzles to life with the sound of TV static and news snippets. Admittedly, such an opening has become a cliché, especially in thrash metal circles, but postpone your eye-rolls. The sampled reports aren’t studio-created facsimiles to make Confess sound more seismic than they actually are; they’re all real pieces of global coverage, documenting the seven years of hell that led up to the Iranians’ third album.
Just days after the release of Confess’s last full-length, 2015’s In Pursuit Of Dreams, core members Nikan Khosravi and Arash Ilkhani were arrested in their home country. Their only crime was making anti-establishment, bullheaded metal, for which they were put on trial on charges of blasphemy and propaganda against the state. They endured solitary confinement and interrogations, followed by 18 months in jail before fleeing to Norway and seeking asylum. There they’ve reactivated the band with a new, five-piece line-up.
As you might expect, Confess sound fucking pissed off. Of course, they were never exactly mushy to begin with, what with singer/guitarist Nikan being an acolyte of Slipknot and Slayer since he was 13. Debut album Beginning Of Dominion was a guitar-governed blitzkrieg, but it also found space for NWOBHM-inspired flamboyance. There’s none of that levity here; Revenge At All Costs is a groove/thrash attack that adds a lethal venom to Confess’s bite.
First track proper Evin constructs a strong foundation, picking up where Sepultura left off in the mid-90s. The creeping, isolated chords at the outset – produced to carry the perfect amount of crunch – create an unshakable Slave New World vibe. Even Nikan’s growled ranting has all the passion and punch of Max Cavalera’s, especially in the animalistic roars that preempt the first breakdown.
Fortunately, the album is quick to escape the shadow of its forebears. Nikan’s playing isn’t just flawless; songs like Hegemony quickly reveal the full range of the frontman’s fingers. The gaps between booming chords are plugged by athletic shreds, while the likes of Under Surveillance and Phoenix Rises chug through innumerable low E notes. On Ransom Note, strings are bent into squealing anguish, but their wailing only underscores the force of the abrupt, fast-paced drumming.
Despite all the unfettered rage, Revenge At All Costs still somehow peaks at its very end. The penultimate track, Army Of Pigs! builds a chorus out of call-and-response shouts ripped straight from the grottiest of hardcore punk basement gigs. Then, lastly, I Speak Hate introduces robotic clean vocals to flank all the shouting anarchy.
For such a rampage of an album to still be pulling new tricks all the way to the finish line is an even louder testament to Confess’s talents than any one of their seething riffs. Inevitably, Revenge At All Cost’s traumatic backstory will make it a hotly discussed pillar of 2022 metal, but its power and quietly inventive songwriting deserve just as much attention.
Revenge At All Costs is out January 21 via Rexius