(In this post TheMadIsraeli reviews the forthcoming new album by Boston’s Revocation.)
Sometimes I think the best thing a band in Revocation’s position can do, with as many releases into their career as they are now, is to take a musical step back, in the interest of maintaining the essence of what the band are about. Their previous self-titled album was good, but I and others felt that the music was stagnating a bit. Oddly, this wasn’t because the band were getting too comfortable. Instead, I think the S/T suffered from attempts to include more progressive elements, sections, and song structures in the music, which detracted from the adrenaline and the intensity, while the core death/thrash sections felt a bit phoned in at times. I can see where Revocation may have wanted to integrate more “out there” moments into their music, but I think maybe even Revocation themselves realized that they needed to get back in touch with what made them stand out in the first place.
In a lot of ways, Deathless feels like a back-to-basics record, at least within Revocation’s own sonic domain. It finds the band more in the straight-up riff-driven death/thrash quality of their debut, Empire of the Obscene, and the album that catapulted them to notoriety, Existence Is Futile. The result is Revocation’s best record since Chaos of Forms. The idea of moving in a more pure, riff-driven direction with more maturity was a really smart move, and it proves that Revocation are in fact still 100% in touch with the intensity and the knack for inducing adrenaline rush that they were founded on.
“Deathless” is 100%, back-to-front, Revocation-patented thrash-driven death metal at its best. David Davidson, as per usual, makes this record, and this band as a whole. His signature thrash/death/fusion riffing style is definitely in top form here, but those fusion-y elements of his style also feel dialed back in order to bring the thrash and death metal elements to the forefront. It’s an interesting choice, considering it’s one of the things that “makes” him as a guitarist, but it also gives those moments when they come around an even greater impact.
The almost full-time transition into seven-string guitar usage is a huge factor on this album as well. The playfulness of the riffing is evident, and you can tell Davidson is having a ton of fun experimenting with the range, as well as the sonic capacity for deadly force added by the seven-string’s low end. The bludgeoning groove alone of “Madness Opus” sounds like a band who are enjoying their ability to kick the shit out of you with sound, and it displays the confidence they have in doing so. The rest of the album flaunts that talent pretty brazenly as well.
Songs like “A Debt Owed to the Grave”, “Scorched Earth Policy”, and “Labyrinth of Eyes” are definitely a more evolved, matured version of early Revocation. The entire bridge section of “Scorched Earth Policy” is maybe one of the best sections of riff craft I’ve EVER heard from Davidson, and the ensuing solo is also one of his best. All of the riffing on this record is top-notch; some of the most memorable, biting guitar work in the Revocation discography is contained within Deathless.
The vocals of Davidson and company also sound the best they ever have — mostly because this is the most pissed that the vocals in Revocation’s music have ever sounded. It’s a fitting and essential component here because of the music’s more definitively aggressive approach, the final ingredient in the band’s successful effort to convey a belligerent punchiness in their music. It’s a mood and attitude that the band haven’t displayed to this degree before, and it’s quite a welcome one.
I’m ready to call it that this is Revocation’s best record yet. If you’ve been a fan of the band up to this point, there is no way you won’t love this as much as I have.