Written by Kep
>Revered and Reviled Above All Others – Swinevoid
>Releasing August 5
Do you like the idea of grindcore but have trouble wrapping your head around the frantic pace of it? Love that overdriven DIY sound of crust punk but wish more of it was paced like sludge? Do you tire of sprawling, expansive songs that drag on for minutes on end? And above all else, do you believe that all cops are cowardly fucking bastards? If you answered yes to those questions, Revered and Reviled Above All Others is a project made for you, whether you know it yet or not.
Swinevoid is the long-awaited debut full-length from the pioneers of doomviolence (read: literally the only doomviolence band in existence). Not familiar with that particular style? It’s simple; slow, crusty, lo-fi goodness in songs rarely longer than 90 seconds long. The band’s tagline is “slow songs for short attention spans”, and there really isn’t a more apt way to describe it. Revered and Reviled’s music is plodding and monstrously heavy a la doom, spitefully succinct and relentlessly political a la powerviolence. And considering they’ve never put out a release longer than about 9 minutes, the 25 minutes of Swinevoid qualifies as a megadose of that gratifying combination.
The 20(!) songs that make up that 25 minutes are remarkably varied, but the elements they comprise are uniform across the runtime. Massive fuzzed-out bass and only massive fuzzed-out bass (don’t you bring that guitar shit up in here), ponderous drums, vocals that sound like a rabid bear gargling nails, and a healthy smattering of samples and some related noise. It’s a minimalistic approach, sure, but the only things that RRAAO are short on are track lengths and bullshit. The genius of Swinevoid (and indeed the project’s music in general) is that it doesn’t need much to get its points across; in fact, while these haymakers to the gut would knock the breath out of you in any circumstance, the impact would be lessened with a bunch of fuss around them. The no-frills approach has real punch to it.
And of course when you’re dealing with this sort of subject matter you want your impacts to land like a sledgehammer. AS and DB, confirmed good humans, take that sledgehammer and apply it liberally to the ever-more-exposed foundations of the US police state. It’s music for our time, certainly—the events in Uvalde, Texas have once again driven the cancer of cops to the forefront of the public conscious—but more than that, Swinevoid is music that’s driven by the decades that have led to our time. You can feel the malice of a lifetime radiating in every second and the raw production and gimmick-free delivery underscore that contempt, so that every track is a bone breaking blow spawned from grievance upon grievance.
RRAAO’s use of samples is pointed and effective, and really helps tie the album together from track to track. Snippets of news broadcasts are a common pick, like in “An Unmarked Van for Every Citizen”, where we hear a reporter delivering a story on protestors being muscled into a van by plainclothes officers, and “Industry of Distraction”, which opens and closes with anchors discussing typical news fodder like immigration caravans, one of the right’s favorite diversions. They hit you with these clips in moderation, giving you just enough time to register for a split-second about what you’re hearing before braining you over the head with a riff like a distorted sandbag.
That’s the method here: deliver a thought, then deliver another before the first has time to get stagnant, and then keep on doing that. RRAAO keep the listener on their toes. Take the delightfully named “Boot Leather Connoisseur”, which rolls with one of the groovier riffs on the album, fades for a few seconds, and then the silence is immediately broken by the cymbal count-in and mosh-bait riff of standout “Flagophile”, which throws elbows and gets hardcore with shouted gang vocals near its end. The entire runtime of the two songs: a minute and forty-five seconds. My favorite stretches of Swinevoid are all back-to-backs, like the one-two punch of the eerie “In Porcos Laqueo” into miniature battering ram “Grotesque Ornaments of Authority” (the main body of which is less than ten seconds long), or the thrashing destructiveness of “Into the Kettle” leading to the towering darkness of “Disappeared”.
Now I’ll be honest, while there’s plenty of songwriting variety, the feel of the songs remains mostly the same throughout the album, but such is the nature of much stripped-down DIY music. That consistency of sound and texture isn’t really a problem anyways, though, and it certainly won’t matter if you dig this sort of thing, because every track hits like a bag of bricks against a riot cop’s face shield. Those sloppy deliberate bass riffs are so goddamn satisfying and they’ve got an addictive quality to them that makes you constantly want more. That’s part of the beauty of the short track approach; RRAAO always leave the listener hanging, and so repeat listens are basically guaranteed. Some tracks are more memorable than others—the ominous and oppressive “Civilian Sweep”, lead single “Mythocracy”, and the previously mentioned “In Porcos Laqueo” are my picks—but they all offer something worthwhile and there’s not a skippable moment to be found.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The long-awaited first full-length record from Revered and Reviled Above All Others may be diminutive in terms of length and instrumentation, but the impact of its 20 tracks en miniature are gargantuan. Swinevoid is a satisfying, rousing listen that pulls no punches, and I highly recommend blasting it on your car speakers, rolling down the windows, and flipping off every cop you see.