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Revocation - Revocation

[6th August 2013]
[Relapse Records]

01. The Hive
02. Scattering The Flock
03. Arch Fiend
04. Numbing Agents
05. Fracked
06. The Gift You Gave
07. Invidious
08. Spastic
09. Entombed By Wealth
10. A Visitation

To self-title your album is something of a mission statement or manifesto, setting out exactly what you wish to achieve within your band’s framework, and Revocation have done just that with their fourth album. It sees a continuation of their technical yet catchy thrash metal sound, with more then a smattering of death metal mixed in for good measure. Or is it the other way around?

The first third of the album plays out almost as expected: riff-fueled numbers with a strong yet strangely unpredictable rhythm. The drums in particular are prone to break out into wild blasting at the drop of a hat (see “Scatter The Flock”), a snap back to reality in case the mid-paced sections lose your attention. What also remains unchanged in the formula are the vocals of David Davidson and Dan Gargiulo; rumbling growls and hoarse yet ballsy snarls that wouldn’t be out of place on an oldschool death metal demo. So far, everything checks out as top-grade death-thrash, particularly the slick “Arch Fiend” which slides through an acoustic break before drawing to a close with a strong guitar solo.

When “Numbing Agents” strikes up, however, things start to get a little strange. For instance, the chorus riff bears an odd resemblance to a cowboy jingle, albeit still in a metallic form. Follow-up “Fracked” introduces an off-kilter prominent bass solo to let the two guitarists breathe, before later delving into decidedly melancholic territory as the song rounds out. However, by far the most eyebrow-raising addition to the Revocation sound is the appropriately-named “Invidious”. Death-thrash purists may do a double-take when they hear the banjo that opens up the song, for instance, or the incongruous ‘clean’ singing and ‘breakdown’ the band drop into the track later. Curb your ire though; they last for a few seconds apiece, and, once the initial shock passes, work surprisingly well in the context.

Thus far in reading this, you could be forgiven for wondering where the riffs went. Fear not, guitar enthusiasts; there are plenty of riffs and solos to go around, particularly in the noodling instrumental “Spastic” or the impressive tremolo chorus of “The Give You Gave”. Davidson and Gargiulo have proven themselves time and again on their axes, and on Revocation it’s no different. One cursory listen to “Scattering The Flock” and its plethora of notes quickly affirms this. However, the album’s personal highlights tend to center around the solos, which induce air-guitar symptoms while tastefully balancing soulful melody and sheer thrash aggression.

Self-titled albums generally have either made or broken a band (cf. Black Sabbath, Metallica), and Revocation definitely lands the band in the former camp. Don’t let the ‘technical’ tag be a deterrent for giving it a try; the album is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, with great appeal to fans of and those curious about “near-death metal,” as one witty YouTube commenter put it. It’s a credit to the band that near-death metal has rarely sounded this alive.


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