Revocation
Revocation

Revocation’s highly anticipated fourth album comes on the back of significant momentum gained through the one-two punch of 2009’s brilliant Existence is Futile, and 2011’s worthy follow-up, Chaos of Forms. Firstly, forget all the over-analysis about the band’s decision to self-title this latest platter. There’s no drastic reinvention at play here, yet the important thing is Revocation continue to write killer metal jams, loaded with technical flair, thrashy chops, and an abundance of top-notch riffs. Despite raising the bar high early in their career, for all its strengths and experimental dabbling, Chaos of Forms occasionally found Revocation guilty of overreaching, resulting in song-writing that was too convoluted for its own good. Last year’s thrashy Teratogenesis EP got back to basics, in Revocation terms that is, with a more pronounced and focused death metal strain jack-knifing through their technical thrash foundation.

Revocation continues in a similar trajectory, hacking the fatty off-cuts away and sculpting a leaner, aggressive beast that retains the band’s signature traits while delivering greater focus and a dash of restraint. That’s not to suggest Dave Davidson and co have dumbed themselves down by any stretch. The tech-wizardry and scintillating guitar solos continue to bookend their thrash-based formula, yet there’s a stronger emphasis on cutting to the chase and forming a tighter bond between their flashy, intricate musicianship and down-to-earth metal urges.

While Revocation’s detractors will signal out the band’s strong focus on technicality as an overshadowing component to mask inferior songwriting, I have never found more than a few moments of fleeting evidence to support this. Sure they like to show off their astounding instrumental prowess, but in the case of this album, and the bulk of their previous work, their songwriting remains cohesive and song-based amidst the technical fireworks, with an ample supply of memorable riffs, melodies and vocal hooks to keep you coming back for more. This latest album delivers plenty of memorable material and killer riffs to latch onto and stands as a more consistent album than its predecessor.

Davidson’s unusual vocals will continue to be a sticking point for some. Yet his unconventional style has a character all his own – floating in limbo between death metal gruffness and a semi-decipherable thrashy howl. The experimental clean vocals that cropped up during Chaos of Forms have been scaled back to be almost nonexistent, which will no doubt please fans not on board with the band’s more adventurous vocal approach. Elsewhere, while Davidson’s leading position in the band is deserving of the most limelight, props must go to the remaining band members for their stellar support roles. The performance of drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne is especially worthy. He’s a gifted and versatile metal drummer with a style informed by jazz but grounded by his metallic instincts. New bass player, Brett Bamberger (ex-East of the Wall), consolidates the hefty backbone to Revocation’s sound, although he lacks the flashier traits of predecessor, Anthony Buda.

“The Hive” opens the album with the pumped-up urgency of “Cretin” from Chaos of Forms, beginning the album with head-banging intent. The song careens full speed ahead with a catchy main riff, smart time changes, and a typically classy piece of soloing. The jagged aggression of “Scattering the Flock” is highlighted by a fierce blast-beaten chorus, with the strained, discernable vocals rife with emotion. The complex juggernaut, “Archfiend”, steps outside familiar boundaries with its rugged tech-death framework and mid-paced groove. The song’s proggy angle is fleshed out with a sudden yet smooth transition into an acoustic break, before sealing the deal with a sublime guitar solo. Although its impact isn’t immediately known, the song lays firm tracks in the brain after a few listens. The blistering attack of “Numbing Agents” gets back to basics, finding Revocation at their aggressive, thrashy best and featuring a killer Slayer-esque solo, with a modern twist. The excellent, “Fracked”, pushes ahead with a catchy mid-paced clip, bursts of aggression, and yet another exemplary guitar solo.

It’s a rare thing on a metal album to be able to single out an instrumental song as a highlight, but in the case of the aptly titled, “Spastic”, praise is indeed justified. The jazz/tech/prog mind-bender twists and contorts with remarkable cohesion, bringing a catchy, song-based edge to counterbalance the stellar instrumental chops. Aside from its off-kilter banjo lick, “Invidious” features all the typical Revocation songwriting ingredients. The gang vocals and catchy structure recall some of the stronger moments off Chaos of Forms. The last couple of songs rounding out the album are solid enough but don’t hit home quite as strongly, coming across as fairly standard fare for the band.

Existence is Futile remains Revocation’s crowning achievement, however, Revocation finds the band reigning things in a touch and delivering a taut, powerhouse album that bests Chaos of Forms and holds a lofty place in the band’s impressive canon.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Luke Saunders
August 12th, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Wow it’s the year of the self-titled album: Satyricon, Dream Theater and now this. I’m looking fwd to checking this out, excellent write-up!


  2. Commented by: Staylow

    This album hasn’t quite sank in with me fully just yet, but it’s just a matter of time as it’s not hard to tell that it’s more quality stuff from a great band. Though I have to disagree with your position on their last two albums – Chaos of Forms, to me, is far and away their best work, while Existence is Futile was a slight let down in comparison to their debut.


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