Revenant was formed in Northern New Jersey (U.S.) in the spring of 1986 by bassist John Pratscher and guitarist-vocalist Hank Veggian, the former of whom developed the band’s conceptual framework. John and Henry read widely in gothic and fantastic literature as well as general fields such as history and philosophy. “Revenant” took its inspiration primarily from the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, most importantly from the fundamental writings on the “eternal return” but also the writings on poetry and music.
These conceptual threads remained constant throughout the band’s development over the next nine years as Revenant underwent several incarnations.
The original line-up of John Pratscher (bass), Hank Veggian (guitar/vocals), John McEntee (guitar) and Joe Fregenti (drums) was completed in 1987 and entered the studio to record the band’s first demo cassette. The demo, entitled “Beyond the Winds of Sorrow,” was sold in local record stores as the band built up a following among fans of underground heavy metal in the New York/ New Jersey area. The band performed its first live concert in August of that same year and later began playing shows on a regular basis at area clubs. It was during this period that the New Jersey/New York underground metal scene first took shape, as groups such as Prime Evil, Immolation, Ripping Corpse, and Revenant began playing shows together on the local club circuit.
Revenant recorded a second demo tape in 1988. Entitled “Asphyxiated Time” the tape featured new material that expanded on both the band’s metal and hardcore roots (the band often played cover songs by C.O.C. and Agnostic Front as well as songs by metal favorites such as Sepultura and Celtic Frost). John Pratscher left the group in 1988 and was temporarily replaced in the fall of that year when Revenant played concerts with Morbid Angel and Immolation in New Rochelle, New York and Long Island. Tim Scott joined the band as its new permanent bassist in the late fall/winter of 1987. Drummer Joe Fregenti left the group following a concert in the Pittsburgh area in during that same period. Despite playing several local concerts with new drummer Jon Regan in the spring of that year, the band temporarily ended its work when John McEntee left the band to form Incantation in the summer of 1989.
Tim Scott and Hank Veggian spent the summer of 1989 writing new material and trying to forge a faster, more technical style of songwriting. Older songs such as “Asphyxiated Time”, “Ancestral Shadows”, “Degeneration” and “Spawn” were re-written and new songs such as “Distant Eyes” were conceived. Revenant returned with a new line-up in the fall of 1989 with the addition of Will Corcoran (drums) and David Jengo (guitar). A period of intensive rehearsals and song writing resulted in a new demo cassette in November, 1989 and a concert opening for Napalm Death and at their first ever North American show in New Rochelle, N.Y.
The years 1990-1992 were the band’s busiest years. Two songs – “Distant Eyes” and “Degeneration” - from the 1989 demo were released as a 7-inch by Thrash Records (Fr). The band began touring more extensively, and in the summer of 1990 Revenant joined Ripping Corpse and Morbid Angel on the road in the U.S. Revenant was signed to based Nuclear Blast (Ger) records in late 1990 and the song “Degeneration” was released on the first volume of the label’s “Death is Just the Beginning” compilation series.
In January of 1991 the band recorded its debut "Prophecies of a Dying World" CD at Quantum studios in Jersey City, N.J. The result was an experimental nine song venture which summed up the group's songwriting from 1986-1990. The record received excellent reviews by the local and underground music press and was praised as a unique and original effort. Although somewhat disappointed with the quality of the recording, the band embarked on a successful 23- concert European tour in late 1991 with Dutch death metal band Gorefest, playing occasional support slots for Napalm Death and Pungent Stench along the way. It was on this winter tour that Revenant filmed a video in Hamburg, Germany for the song "The Unearthly" from the “Prophecies…” CD. The song, which was inspired by Ken Russell's film "Altered States", brought the band further attention when it premiered on MTV's "Headbanger's Ball" in the spring of 1992. The original video of “The Unearthly” consisted of all live footage, but was later re-edited and released on the “Death is Just the Beginning” video compilation. The band never had any creative control over the quality of the video, and this as well as several other disputes led to their leaving Nuclear Blast Records in 1992.
III. THE NEW PAGANISM
Revenant began writing material for a second record in 1992. The band spent the year performing locally and recording new songs at various local studios. In the spring of 1993, New York-based Rage records released the "Burning Ground / Exalted Being" 7- inch e.p. The release showcased shorter, more aggressive songs as well as one of the group’s more political songs, “The Burning Ground.” The lyrics of “The Burning Ground” combined the classical Greek mythological figure of Prometheus with the horrors unleashed by modern technology against peoples and individuals. The song was dedicated to the victims of the Chernobyl disaster. An unreleased song from the same sessions, entitled “Infinite Reality” reflected the group's growing interest in physics and astronomy (around this time the group also performed a cover of Rush’s “Cygnus X-1” at various concerts).
In the spring of 1993, Revenant played concerts on the East Coast and prepared to enter the studio once more. In October of 1993, Revenant recorded a new two song demo. The first song, "Faithless (Emptiness)" was an excerpt from a three part song cycle, the second and third parts of which were often played live but never recorded. The “Faithless” trilogy was the band’s attempt at translating the highly developed structures of 1970’s rock groups such as Rush, Yes, and Pink Floyd to a metal idiom. The demo’s second track, "Eclipse" is a song further extended the band’s experiments in lyrical and musical astronomy.
Revenant composed a final cycle of songs in 1994. These songs shifted away from the longer multi-song structures of “The Faithless” and compressed the band’s sounds and ideas into more confined spaces. The band entered Showplace studios in Dover, N.J. in January of 1995 and recorded an e.p. that was to be the rough draft of the second record that would have been entitled “A New Paganism.” The planned second record was to feature the songs The New Paganism, the Faithless trilogy, The Burning Ground, Exalted Being, Eclipse, Infinite Reality, Land of Ruin, The Long Red Sleep, and The Masks of God. The band dissolved before the e.p. was mixed, but later decided to release four of the recorded tracks as a limited-edition e.p. entitled “Overman” in 2002. “Overman” was mixed by longtime friend Erik Rutan, who played guitar in Ripping Corpse and now plays guitar and sings for Hate Eternal.
Revenant performed with most of the best bands of its era, including Type O Negative, Biohazard, Godflesh, Dog Eat Dog, Napalm Death, Machine Head, Cannibal Corpse, Suffocation, Monster Magnet, Brutal Truth, Life of Agony, Deceased, Morbid Angel, Nokturnel, Immolation, Ripping Corpse, Atheist, and dozens of others. Revenant played their final live concert in September, 1994, opening for Napalm Death in Bellevile, N.J. Revenant dissolved in 1995 but they played music in other groups in subsequent years. Tim Scott played bass on the first Hateplow CD, and David and Hank played briefly in the reformed original line-up of the classic death-thrash band Whiplash.
V. THE RETURN
The members of Revenant had originally pressed “Overman” in 2002 only for themselves and for their friends. A copy reached editor Liz Ciaverella at “Metal Maniacs” magazine in New York, and she printed a small notice on the e.p. in a later 2003 issue. The reply that ensued was entirely unexpected and the band members were grateful that fans of underground metal remembered their contribution to the unique NY/NJ metal scene.
In 2004 Xtreem Records (Sp) asked Revenant to collect its classic demos and release them. The band agreed and asked friends, former members, and fans to assist in the search for rare and lost recordings. After a long search that included the discovery of previously unknown live recordings and rehearsal demos, the band compiled a near-complete anthology of its unreleased and released demo recordings from the best available source materials. The songs were transferred and mixed by Rick Dierdorf, the original “Overman” engineer, at Portrait Recording Studios (Lincoln Park, NJ) in January, 2005 and mastered by Colin Davis, who also mastered Overman in 2002, at Imperial Mastering (Concord CA.).
The result is “The Burning Ground”, a 14 song CD collection that includes an original essay by Hank Veggian, rare live photos of the band, photos of Revenant with other bands from the classic NY/NJ scene, and reproductions of the group’s artwork. The Burning Ground is a tribute to all the Revenant fans throughout the world.
The Burning Ground
XM 031 CD
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