Thursday, 8 August 2013

Revocation: Revocation - Review

If last week I had been told that I was about to review an album that combined influences from Slayer to Necrophagist I would have been very excited indeed. If you then told me that it wouldn't be quite as good as I was hoping for then I would have been very confused. How can a band combine the best bits of Thrash and Technical Death Metal, with a range of influences that reads as a who's-who of my favourite bands and not leave me with a broken neck from headbanging? Alright, so maybe that comes off as me being a shade harsh about what is actually a very good record. Boston outfit, Revocation's eponymous 4th album is on the one hand really fucking good and on the other hand it leaves me wanting so much more. 

Starting off with the diverse influences that I already mentioned, "Revocation" sees the band draw riffs and ideas from all over the place to create somewhat of a unique sound. The influence of Tech-Death bands like Necrophagist is obvious from the offset from the opening riff in "The Hive" to the solos in "Archfiend" and "A Visitation". Added to that is some outright Death Metal blast beats and speed-picked riffs akin to Cannibal Corpse and Death, some Maiden-style twin leads and an overall feel reminiscent of Thrash Revival bands like Violator and Evile. In a nutshell this plays out like an Extreme Metal fan's wet dream and what is striking is not just how seamlessly Revocation blend these different styles together but how tight they are and the apparent ease with which they present their music. 

It is no secret that to play Metal usually requires an advanced ability on your instrument be it guitars, bass or drums (unless you are Lars Ulrich) and therefore to say that the members of Revocation stand above most with their approach to their music should be taken as a real compliment. The technical ability that this band has is unreal, from the blast-beat, double kick infused drumming of Phil Dubois-Coyne to the incredible guitar work from David Davidson and Dan Gargiulo. As a listener I was often left with a big smile on my face from hearing what the band were playing and I think that this gives "Revocation" a "fun" element, which can help to hold attention.

Talking more specifically about the guitar work, I was incredibly impressed with the leads on offer from this record. I love the fact that Revocation aren't afraid to slow their music down and often prefer to write a more melodic solo instead of shredding away for the sake of it. They show such a varied approach to solo writing, "Numbing Agents", for example, has a very Slayer-esque solo whilst the solo in "Fracked" feels so well phrased and features some great twin-leads. This helps to keep things fresh and it is nice to see that the band don't stick to the same formula when it comes to their solos.

Moving on to the production of the album and all I can say is that Producer Peter Rucho has done an amazing job. Every single instrument on "Revocation" sits beautifully in the mix and it gives the record a real "power" that does justice to the style of music; it strikes the balance between "clean" and "dirty" really well. The drums sound immaculate throughout, from the pummelling sound of the kick drum through to the crisp toms on "Archfiend", which just sound beautiful. It's not even just the drums that sound great, the other standout for me is the tone on the guitars, particularly for the solos. I always used to think the production on Lazarus AD's "The Onslaught" was good but "Revocation" blows it out of the water.  

It is clear to this point that there is a lot about "Revocation" that I both love and admire but, for me, there is a major flaw in that the album pacing is not all that great. It is very clear that Revocation can blend a load of different styles of Extreme Metal together and write some incredible songs, and I am not going to contest that, but what I will say is that the listenability of the album as a whole would be greatly increased if they altered the pace a little. Thrash and Death Metal are two of my favourite genres of music and I often get frustrated by hearing albums that are very single-paced and "Revocation" certainly falls into that category. 

I will acknowledge that Revocation have made an effort to try to vary their songs a bit on this record. "Numbing Agents", for example, is more of a "Thrash-and-roll" track, "Spastic" is an instrumental, there is the use of an acoustic guitar on "Archfiend" and "Invidious" makes use of a banjo. All these features do help to break tracks up a little bit but it doesn't stop the album as a whole feeling very atonal and single-paced. For anyone who thinks I am being pedantic with this I will point to what I consider to be "great" Extreme Metal albums: "Leprosy" by Death, "Reign in Blood" by Slayer, "Master of Puppets" by Metallica and "Epitaph" by Necrophagist. What these records have in common is that they either show diversity between songs, varying the pace to create more of an "album", or they push the same great sound throughout but make the album shorter so that the effect of the music isn't lost; I think in the case of "Revocation" the latter would be better. If the album was two songs shorter then there wouldn't be chance for the exciting things that Revocation do to get stale but as it is, at 10 tracks and 45 minutes, towards the end of the album the overall effect, for me, is lost. 

To conclude this review I would say that "Revocation" is a very good record. The musicianship on show is simply astonishing and the band are really on top form with what they do. Despite this I can't help but feel that making the record a little shorter would have pushed it into "great" album territory. If I sat and listened to the odd song from this record then I would probably say that Revocation are one of the best bands around at the moment but as an album "Revocation" just falls a little short for me. I think ultimately I don't like this album quite as much as I would like to but it is definitely worth checking out. 




No comments:

Post a Comment