Review by Greg on November 29, 2023.
After truly storming the world, not to mention lots of eardrums, in the past decade, the momentum held by Greek extreme thrashers Bio-Cancer came to a halt after only two LPs, with their return to the scenes roughly dating to three months ago, 8 years after the sophomore Tormenting The Innocent. I have to admit they never were among my personal pantheon of revival thrash bands, and vocalist Lefteris Hatziandreou surely fell in the 'acquired taste' category, so I kinda slept on them for a while, so by logic I shouldn't be that invested in this brand-new Revengeance. But, after all, it's also true I should expect nothing less than awesome from a group of people capable of writing a song called 'Haters Gonna... Suffer!', right?
Well, if you're looking for another relentless, nonstop beating, Revengeance got you covered, even after such a long wait, which nonetheless shows in the generous dose of Swedish melodeath added to the recipe. Now, before you worry, you're not getting another Hammercult, or a pale copy of Kreator's recent output, as here we're more in line with something like Carnal Forge or maybe Terror 2000, surely helped by Tomek Solomonidis' extensive use of lightning-fast blast beats, not to mention the newfound melodic edge displayed by axemen Stavors Marinos/Thanasis Andreou, which was perhaps the biggest, yet most welcome, surprise for me. Advance single and opener 'Citizen... Down!' is the perfect introduction to this new incarnation of Bio-Cancer, as well as one of the overall best tracks, thanks to its spot-on slower, intense refrain, and the two show off in the more than remarkable extended melodic solutions of the two longest episodes, '44 Days In Hell' and 'Dream Merchants'.
But hey, don't close this page yet, as you can rest assured that the whole thing still riffs like all hell. Said tracks are still on full-throttle for the majority of their playing time, and the title-track, 'Footprints On My Back' or 'Swiping Life Away' stand among the most outright ferocious stuff ever recorded by the band. The last mentioned is an invective against excessive smartphone usage that incredibly does not come across as a boomer rant, or it might just seem as such since it's backed up by such excellent extreme thrash one can turn a blind eye to it. Closer 'Bludgeoning Skullcrushing Mayhem' even delivers a less serious thrash loose cannon like the days of old. The whole package is predictably a lot to stomach, and I can't say I wouldn't have preferred it without the last two songs, but by and large the five furious Greeks always manage to give a distinct meaning to such long compositions.
The elephant in the room will inevitably be Hatziandreou's delivery, which could use the same adjective contained in the debut's title. Not quite to the level of Fastkill's Toshio Komori, he still spends his whole time screaming at the top of his lungs, if not above, constantly giving the impression that every line he's singing has a decent chance to be the last one he'll ever be able to do. If we could transcribe his delivery on a music sheet, I have no doubts his notes will not once fit in the stave. Unfortunately, it's an approach that gets old fast, and I'm not even sure it was the most apt for this kind of background, to begin with. Most of the times I have trouble identifying which words are being said, which is kinda a shame for what are largely meaningful, thought-out lyrics – I'm pretty sure nobody would find sense in the long, melancholic outro to '44 Days In Hell' without understanding that the whole song is actually a tribute to the terrible story of Junko Furuta, but even that would be impossible without a lyric sheet under your eye. It's a pity for several reasons, overall.
All in all, it's safe to say that Hatziandreou's will never be my (and many people's) favourite performance in a thrash metal album, but Revengeance once again reaffirms Bio-Cancer's ease with regards to volatile riffing, deflagrating drumming, and just utterly visceral fury. The melodeath tendencies are more than welcome for yours truly, as they really played their part in breaking out of the norm for a good part of the LP, and are hopefully unlikely to ruin the experience for anyone but the most stubborn thrasher. Impressive return overall, but with minor reservations.
Rating: 8 out of 10294