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Revenant Marquis
Youth In Ribbons Noel Gardner , February 20th, 2020 09:58

Noel Gardner finds his resolve tested by the mysterious Revenant Marquis

For every action, a reaction, and the nameless figure behind Revenant Marquis is a black metal reactionary. Not, as far as is discernible, in a political sense, but in respect of the musical subculture they concern themselves with. Like with any codified genre, some participants will always seek to advance its horizons and introduce it to other styles – this is fine, and sometimes even results in good music. There is, though, something to be said for artists who are so unbendingly, doggedly insular in their horizons that they manage to implode the tropes of their chosen music. Something like that, I think, has happened with Youth In Ribbons.

What info currently circulates about Revenant Marquis has to be taken on trust (or ignored entirely if you don’t feel trustful, I suppose). Inferna Profundus and Death Kvlt, the two labels who’ve released this, say the creator of this hideous bolus is from Wales, specifically its “sequestered black waters” whatever that means. Given this is an area the size of two months’ worth of Amazonian logging, this doesn’t help that much, although one of Youth In Ribbons’ ten songs, ‘Taskermilward’, more or less takes its name from a Pembrokeshire school whose past brushes with national news came from not acknowledging Section 28 had been overturned a decade prior, and being the alma mater of Chelsea Manning in the early 2000s. Neither of these points of note are demonstrably influential on this grisly trudge of folky minor chords, buried-alive howls of no distinct species and noise crescendos which might have organic origins, but have been so mangled in the mix that it’s wholly indiscernable what instruments are being played.

Even if you take the stance that ‘lo-fi black metal’ is a tautology, or ought to be, this is seriously resolve-testing stuff. Very occasionally, say ‘Grave Lit Transmogrification’, there’ll be a riff one could tab, was one thus inclined; ‘Ysgol’ employs a numbing blastbeat and ‘The Bones Of Lady Tasker’ rustles up a tremelo tone on a canonical-era Darkthrone tip. More often, pretty much every distinct element is sucked into a sonic vortex and rendered Satanic slurry. If you’ve happened upon the blurred ritualisms of Portugal’s Black Cilice, whose most recent LP I reviewed here, Revenant Marquis is in that realm, only even murkier. (Astonishingly, Youth In Ribbons, the fourth RM album, offers a minor uptick in fidelity: 2019’s Polterngeyst literally sounds like it was recorded directly into a boombox and mastered by just increasing the volume until it was loud enough.)

Easy to envisage this putrid din being laid down in total isolation, and it’s probably best listened to that way too: an album that could have been devised to induce feverish shivers and self-abasing thoughts. You might try and unriddle the repeated allusions to adolescence in the song titles, armed with the suggestion (from an interview recently published online) that the person behind Revenant Marquis is middle aged, or close to it. You’d just be guessing, though. Me, I take pleasure in there still being an allowance for truly anonymous artists working with cryptic iconography and making something that actually sounds extreme when nearly all possible limits have been exhausted.