Ride for Revenge
by Niklas Göransson
Repetitive riffs to swallow your soul: Finnish black metal enigma Ride for Revenge return with Feed the Infamy. Founder and frontman Harald Mentor speaks of biblical prophecies and religious rapture.
– “Feed the Infamy” is our first album as a four-piece. This time, a number of changes were planned and executed. Most notably, keeping the experimental and difficult-to-listen-to elements – like high-end guitar distortion and long, droning songs – at a bare minimum. We wanted to make it tighter and more ‘metal sounding’ in as much of a classic rock format as is possible with this obscure band. It is also very dark and bass-heavy in a fashion similar to our first two records. But since the line-up is so different, it’s unlike anything we’ve done before.
RIDE FOR REVENGE recorded their eighth album, “Feed the Infamy”, at Audioholic Studios in February 2021. It was then mixed and mastered by Harald Mentor himself before being released through his own label, Bestial Burst, on December 20.
– For the tracking of the basic drums, bass, and guitars, we decided to work with Teemu Velin at Audioholic– partly for practical reasons, as my new ‘home studio’ was not yet ready and the equipment is far from mobile, but also because we wanted a different approach. He’s obviously more professional in a traditional sense, with better mics and so on, which meant I had more options when mixing everything down. Furthermore, from the pre-production stages onward, we went for a heavier sound on guitar and the bass drum tuned very low for a kind of sloppy-yet-powerful effect.
In a 2018 Bardo Methodology feature, Harald spoke of a wilder and less diligent approach. Back then, very little effort went into finding the right amp sound – ‘we just plug ’em in and switch everything on and that’s pretty much it’ – which he would then make the best out of in the mix by using EQ and effects. The gear selection was also somewhat random, consisting of a combination of first-rate equipment and ‘cheapest possible bulk’.
– I’ve done so many projects lately that I don’t even remember what we used for this one. I tend to look forward and forget what I’ve done before – which is good for an artist, really. Let’s just say there ain’t no fixed way of doing things and that we benefit from this by sounding different. I still like what we did with the last few albums, but as a label manager I work on them all the time; for instance, when doing re-presses of sold-out releases. I sensed that there was a risk of certain sounds becoming predictable. Therefore, this kind of freshness was very welcome for “Feed the Infamy”.
Harald also used to employ a variety of other measures to enhance the demented vibe – such as placing extra mics further from the amp ‘to get it intentionally out-of-phase’, as well as using various weird instruments not really meant for music.
– I was initially supposed to produce the basic tracks myself, but I ended up just nodding my head with approval when Teemu set up the microphones and did his thing. Before the recording started, we talked about what we were after and everyone seemed to be on-board – consequently, there was no need for me to act as a producer. As for the weird elements, there weren’t all that many of them this time! I believe I used some very low-budget oscillator-based mini-synths and stuff, as well as certain computer plug-ins I kinda use in ways I haven’t heard anyone else do. Actually, the most experimental and droning song was left out from the album; that one will be released as the B-side of our upcoming self-titled twelve-inch 45 RPM maxi-single.
Of your what?
– Yep, you heard that right! In the best 80s style, a maxi-single of the remixed “Ride for Revenge” song. For the B-side we recorded some random guitar and bass noises, pulsating effects, a short, repetitive drum beat that was then looped, and very brutal, angry vocals. It sounds truly twisted. Also, the self-titled song was remixed in order to reach its full potential. The album mix is good but a bit of a compromise in terms of that track, so I tried a different approach which worked perfectly. So, even if such a hi-fi mindset may seem weird coming from us, the single is definitely worth picking up for all the pure maniacs: it is vastly different from the album version, plus a weird song that goes well with this alternate production. With today’s turn-around times for vinyl, this will no doubt take a while; it’s not even been sent to the presses yet but will for sure be killer! Complete with disco sleeve and all.
The bass sound is ripping as fuck, courtesy of recently recruited fulltime member Nordic Elukka. It differs from the bass on previous records – which was performed by Harald, using his five-string Ibanez – in both tone and playing but still works very well in complimenting the characteristically strange and tribalistic percussion.
– Previously, Nordic Elukka only played in the live line-up, but there was absolutely no need to leave her out from studio works. I didn’t really get to the bottom of what equipment she uses because everything sounded great from the get-go. But I did notice that she has many pedals – some custom-made or otherwise obscure – and a drop-tuned four-string bass, which is a completely different beast from my Ibanez. She has a big valve amp, so the sound is much richer than the one from my transistor. I mixed her bass lines very loud, with some added oscillation to enhance the pulsating effect. In some of the songs, the whole sound is like different frequencies getting into a fist-fight; especially “I Reek of Old Alcohol”… very violent outcome.
Despite the heavier production and more traditional song structures, one of RIDE FOR REVENGE’s primary strengths remains the almost trance-like monotony.
– I’m obsessed with repetitive music, noise, and sounds. Digging up the roots of such musical output is another quest of mine. I must track down the most hypnotic early releases – be it old rock and roll, experimental music, or even blues. The older I get, the weirder stuff I crave. Not to forget the more ordinary styles either! Just the other day I was laughing that RIDE FOR REVENGE must seem like the most post-modern band in existence, being influenced in equal parts by MANOWAR and SWANS, haha! And still escaping the hipster popularity to maintain credibility.
What would be the desired effect of this music?
– Hypnosis and a kind of drug inside you, triggered by the repetitive elements. Forget the intellect, disconnect your ego, and just let go. In my mind, this binds together tribal music, psychedelic rock, primitive black metal, industrial noise, and trance techno more than these genres have to do with the more commercial ‘scenes’ around them. For me, there’s no such thing as the perfect music. So, when I’m composing, it’s always kind of a hunt. This is very intriguing and a big part of that sound-chase for me. Finding a sound, like a simple powerful riff or dirge that keeps going and swallows your soul. There is something undeniably pagan and earthly to it. It is a very primal technique which has been used since the dawn of mankind to reach ecstatic, religious states of mind – to agitate and stimulate.
Do you use your own music for agitation?
– Not really. I’m a big consumer of political news, yes, but I try to keep myself above the daily issues. Since they are in constant fluctuation, getting too agitated will seem silly soon thereafter. I do debate some topics all the time, mostly over Finnish social media. I simply enjoy the exchange of opinions and tend to regard it as a recreational hobby, but there’s no denying that it causes nothing but miniscule ripples in the sea of time. I see art and culture as something much higher than politics. Something that doesn’t have a clear form or agenda you can pinpoint, but with the power to change the scenery around us more deeply than mundane social issues. For instance, to see so many people engaging in egoistic ‘us versus them’ battles over petty issues like personal medical choices is beyond depressing. Like, building your whole identity over… a virus? Just one example, not to get into that extremely tedious conversation again.
There is an old Swedish proverb that goes ’När fan blir gammal blir han religiös’ – ’When the Devil grows old, he becomes religious.’ This was the first thought that sprung to my mind when Harald, leading up to this conversation, told me about his bible interest.
– For a few years now, I’ve been telling my friends to read the bible. Not to become a good Christian or for any of that Jesus shit, but for the omens and the apocalypse. We can now see so many things written in there playing out right before our eyes. Maybe they’ve always been happening and were therefore great to use in scripture, but anyway… every major development in contemporary global politics can be found in those texts. Is it because human nature works the way it does? Or due to some people in power literally following the bible to make it come true? It reads like a script of reality. Readers who are strong in their anti-Christian belief should ignore the ‘moral of the story’ and check it out – the Good Book is actually the most genius writing in existence. Not because of its widespread popularity and influence, but it’s astounding accuracy of reality. Like Orwell‘s 1984 was later.