The gold standard in death metal
Revocation isn’t a band that spends a whole lot of time dawdling between albums. They’ve been pumping out releases every one-to-two years since 2008’s Empire of the Obscene. It seems like 2014’s Deathless just came out yesterday, and already they’re back with 11 new tracks of vicious aural onslaught.
What’s so astonishing about Revocation’s attendance record is not only how solid each record is, but how each one manages to be an improvement on the last. Having quality releases pushed out in such short intervals in pretty uncommon nowadays, and if it does happen, they’re not always very good. Maybe at one point in history bands were able to push out more than one album in just the span of a year and that was normal, but things aren’t the same anymore. There was a time where there was actual money to be made in music, and therefore more freedom for the artists to explore their creativity, but nowadays it’s pretty common for artists (especially in the metal scene) to hold down other gigs to keep their bills paid. Putting out that many records, and good ones, takes a lot more time and patience.
So how it is Revocation just seems to be pushing out badass death metal at such regular intervals? So much of it seems to revolve around guitarist/vocalist David Davidson, whose talent exceeds how symmetrical his name is. Davidson’s wide range of influences and jazz training seem to be the secret ingredient in their recipe of brutality. Despite some of their progressive elements, Revocation isn’t necessarily a band that defies genre barriers, but they don’t really need to. With their raw, brutal energy and technical prowess, they set themselves apart from the rest of the herd. In short, a lot of bands do it, but not many do it as spectacularly as Revocation.
The band’s sixth full-length release, Great is Our Sin, will pummel you over like a stampede and beat you down with a sledgehammer, and once it’s all over, you’ll happily throw the gimp mask back on and head back for more. This is technical death metal exactly how it’s supposed to be done, without all the synth backing tracks and guitar diddling recorded in half-time. These are musicians who have developed a complete mastery over the genre.
“Arbiters of the Apocalypse” opens up with their signature thrash-tech fusion and a monstrous bottom-end guitar tone that rattles the bones to the score. Davidson’s incorporation of jazz chords and atonal harmony makes the music come to life right out of the speakers, taking what could be flat, emotionless death metal and turning it into something much more three-dimensional. “Crumbling Imperium” is a great example of how Davidson incorporates these elements with compositional mastery. The jazzy soundscapes and dissonant harmonies somehow still manage to create beautifully haunting melodies.
Where Revocation also stands out is in their guitar solos. The solo on “Theatre of Horror” is a prime example, where Davidson uses well-crafted guitar melodies and finely-tuned shredding techniques to create a truly thoughtful and memorable solo. Revocation does not make the mistake of recording solos with endless, uninspired noodling that serve more to show off the guitarist’s skill than they do to create a musical statement. Davidson’s solos come across as meticulously crafted, but also with the shredding skills to back them up. There’s barely a hint of any slop in his playing, as Davidson is probably one of the most skillfully proficient and disciplined players in the scene right now.
Just to put a little icing on the cake, the record closes out with a cover of Slayer’s “Altar of Sacrifice,” probably one of the most underrated tracks off of Reign in Blood. Revocation breathe new life into this song with their tightness and meticulous attention to detail. Even Slayer’s messy solos are recaptured with impeccable musicianship. It’s a nice little send-off after a wild ride of death metal ferocity.
For those not already acquainted, Revocation is a band that sets an exemplary standard of what can be achieved in the medium. Great is Our Sin is just another entry into an impressive catalog of work, and should be on every metalhead’s playlist.