As Autumn makes its return just like last year and the year before that, the world finally takes a break from the fiery ball of gas within the sky. For myself, it’s a blessing to have the cool and blustery days back.
Having hidden out of the sunlight and its blistering rays all summer I finally have my underground abode fixed up and ready. Candles and tobacco mix with the smell of the cold earth below me and I feel at home. That is until my device lets out a Chime. This tells me one thing I have a review awaiting. As I read the passage from my bosses of Death Prayer a wave of sadness washes over me. I am about to undertake a final review of a band that has become extremely close to my heart in more ways than one. I have been in talks with the entity that fronts the outfit for some time and to say we have become firm friends has been a blessing in its own right. I am of course talking about ‘S’ and Revenant Marquis’ last and final opus “All The Pleasures Of Heaven”
As I pack up my parchment, pen Tobacco and adorn my heavy robes I ready myself for the last journey to a place I call my home away from home Pembrokeshire in Wales. As I arrive the rain beats down furiously and the costal winds blow through my robes. Autumn is here and with vengeance. Now I know where I must go. As I head off across the coastal path in search of an Ogof so I can rest and keep from getting drenched, writing on parchment in the rain is no fun. I find an entrance I pick up a branch wrapping it in parchment and lighting it I walk deep within. The sound of water dripping and the smell of fresh earth reminds me of my abode back home, it is the little things they say. Finding a dry spot I perch and ready myself for what could be a heart-wrenching fare well.
Track One “Linnet Through The Marshes” Now for those not in the know a Linnet is a small brown and grey finch (bird) with a reddish breast and forehead. Now much like the track, there is a certain level of Symbolism to this feathery friend. In native American culture it is a symbol of good luck and in other cultures a sign of the coming of spring. The rebirth of the land. But what does all this have to do with the track, it could be that the pattern of the track resembles the flight pattern of such Avifauna. From the plucky bass line that dances against the cold guitars and vocals, it is this, that captures the coming of spring. This stunningly warm bass line engulfs the track with a level of warmth usually stripped from any other Revenant Marquis release. However, there is still that anguished and cold snap in the air from the guitars and vocals. Thus showing that spring may be upon us but not as we quite know it yet. The howling winds that close the track certainly prove this possibility. On the other hand, I could be wrong in my thought process but we will see how the rest of the album plays through.
Track Two “All The Pleasures Of Heaven” also the album title is slow and grinding. With slow drawn-out chords and vocals the same it makes for a slow and sombre number. Some little light guitar patches try to leach through and the guitars almost shift from their pattern of long-held chords to that of moving in a chant like Manor, the beat and the vocals follow suit and we sway heavily into a mantra of chants. Is This All The Pleasures Of Heaven in ‘S’ mindset, the chanting of the darkness and this thick wall of sound he produces? We all find our Pleasures and our heavenly spaces within something and it doesn’t always have to be the light, clouds and cherubs. Some like myself find a heavenly pleasure within darkness, despair and evil. So is this a mere reflection of that within music form? It would appear so and certainly sound so. Either way, the swaying and moving of the verses within this track certainly give way to an amazingly structured track. One I feel myself getting lost the more I listen to it.
Track Three “Ankles Cadaverous” Well, Ankles is yes Ankles but Cadaverous is to mean thin, pale and bony. So could this have been a track that was initially intended to appear on “Milk Teeth”? Having had a picture of a ballerina on the Cover? The backing music upon the track would maybe indicate so. The music is very opulent the cello sound blissfully haunting next to the disjointed guitar work. Into the midsection we hear a stunning slow and agonising breakdown before the cello comes back in against the sheer harrowing howls of ‘S’ there are moments where this track is uplifting but you can somehow feel the final curtain calling and the procession of Revenant Marquis coming to an end. This track reminds me so much of The Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy” taken from the iconic album Abbey Road. That slow-down tuned sound captured on the aforementioned track coupled with the little light interludes certainly takes me to that. But is this ‘S’ take on such with the switching of styles between light and dark that low down bluesy feel? That creeps up the back of your neck enters through your ears and just turns you and takes you to a much darker and lower place.
Track Four “Black Metal” is just that. We are back to the sheer horror and cascading wall of sound that Revenant Marquis likes to drape you in. This track is disjointed and a varying mix of all manors of black metal. It has certainly got that Pembrokeshire stamp on it. The discombobulated sound of the guitars clashing against one another is a symphony like no other. The keys that haunt this piece merely elevate it to another level. The drumming has you captured and works hand in hand with the bass from fast little licks to thought-out little fills it’s clear to see that the inclusion of having ‘O’ from Obskuritatem on this album has certainly delivered that little bit extra and brought a new and harrowing sound to Revenant Marquis.
Track Five “Luck and Evil” leads us in with a slow and sombre opening, only to open up like a hurricane of sound within its first verse to then return to the dirge and slow grinding bleakness we all know and love. The bass has a very blues element to it. Retaining the tempo beautifully between the tracks and leading the drums with sheer precision. There is one thing I love about this act and that is you can’t bank on hearing the same song twice, but the overall tonality within the songs keeps the structure and feel locked in perfectly. You really cannot argue this sound perpetrated by the Pembrokeshire Black Circle is something of sheer horror and elegance.
Track Six “To The People Of This Hamlet” again feels like it tips a hat to another song by The Beatles from the album Abbey Road and that is the track “Because” That slow discordant guitar work in the opening does almost match whether intentional or not, it certainly takes me to that track. That is before we are hurled backwards into a sheer ferocious set of verses. This has little punk flourishes whilst still giving nods to other influences. This is certainly short but it delivers a stunning punch in the face too as the end comes in we hear the chants of Hail Satan, Hail Satan, Hail Satan, Hail Satan all within a breathless and agonising end.
Track Seven “Bliss” sees a return to a more ambient sound. One captured upon the release “Cyflymiad O’r Holl Arferion Ocwl” this one however is much, much more haunting. The soft chants and the deep drum sounds make for a dark funeral procession, as we finally ready ourselves to commit Revenant Marquis to the ground. The sound of children in the background truly makes for a horror-inspired and chilling track. The guitars are muted and played slowly which adds to the intensity of this final track. This truly feels like the final act within this entity’s repertoire. As sad as it pains me to write and as much as it pains me to hear it in music form this track delivers that chilling and final realisation that the end is here. The sound of swirling winds and chants play and fade out leaving the atmosphere cold and still.
As I roll up my parchment pick up my torch and walk back to the opening of the Ogof I look out at the coastal view that sits before me and I sigh a heartfelt sigh. I lean against the entrance and roll a cigarette, lighting it from my torch I inhale and think about just how and where this all started. As I look back at all the releases Revenant Marquis has put forth the body of work has been nothing short of brilliance and consistency.
Whilst the point of the Black Circle is to release music not within quick succession but more in a manner that surprises the avid listener, it never fails to disappoint. The delivery is nothing short of magnificence and this release whilst ‘S’ last with this project is just as poignant as his first. As I look back over the titles of the tracks are these the titles that are all the Pleasures of Heaven to him? I guess we’ll never know. What I do know and this is as true as the connection I made to of The Beatles and the album Abbey Road. AbbeyRoad as an album was their Swan Song. It was an album that you could hear from the start and had the markings of this is the end. The end of an era and the same could be said regarding this album. The sound on this album track by track grew stronger in its climax to the end the mix of sounds and distortion all lead to the final chants bellowing out. So has ‘S’ done exactly what the Beatles set out to do with Abbey Road? In short yes. He has captured the very essence of the end within seven tracks of pure unadulterated Revenant Marquis standard. As I turn and ready to leave I take my knife and engrave my name Foras on the cave entrance. Both Revenant Marquis the black circle and Pembrokeshire will always hold a piece of my spirit.
All the Pleasures of Heaven is out now via Death Prayer Records