Written By: Kronos
At this point in their career, Revocation should certainly know what they’re good at, and fans should know what to expect out of the group’s consistently inventive and engaging brand of thrashy tech-death. A self-titled album then seems an appropriate fourth release for Davidson and Co., but topping the perfection of previous albums, especially the most recent thriller Chaos of Forms, is a tall order. Revocation, for the most part, delivers exactly what fans look for in a Revocation album; exciting, technical and catchy songs with all the heft and energy of a freight train.
Opener “The Hive” brings that heaviness crashing out of the gates, giving just enough time for its murky and atonal intro to grab hold before the real riffage cannons the album forward. It’s the second shortest song on the album, and for good reason: after hearing that, you’ll want more. Graciously, Revocation has a lot more to give. The next two songs are classic Revocation and keep the album moving forward at breakneck pace with the sort of winding and blazingly fast melodic riffs you’ve come to expect. “Scattering the Flock” is the kind of scathing song Lamb of God would write if they played technical death metal, and “Archfiend” is a memorable headbanger with a slight waltz feel along with an impressive and surprisingly upbeat solo.
Every song on Revocation is different from the last, and some are just as memorable and fantastically crafted as anything the group has heretofore put out. “Fracked” is a monstrous song, but at the same time a scathing attack on its titular practice, peeking its head into Gojira-like levels of righteous ecological animosity. Continuing this line of social commentary, “Invidious” rolls in dead set to enrage anyone familiar with modern news media. The opening banjo lick gets passed around from ear to ear, played through both at once, and then swept away and repeated by the guitars until it’s completely lost. It’s not only a musical metaphor for the 24-hour news cycle, it’s also a completely infectious riff. Paired with this are lyrics not only filled with vitriol, but also catchier than anything I’ve heard this year. It may be months before I stop singing the song’s immense chorus in the shower.
“Invidious” marks the peak of the album. The final three tracks are anything but unimpressive, yet can’t quite match the standard of vigor set before them. “A Visitation” performs admirably as a cap on this bottle of music, but it won’t be remembered in the same way as “The Hive”, “Invidious” or “The Gift You Gave”. These songs aren’t superfluous, though, and Revocation fades out just short of overstaying its welcome.
This is a remarkably consistent album and were it not for their dazzling musicianship and stellar songwriting, one could almost say it’s too predictable. Unlike Chaos of Forms there isn’t a late-album brass section to jolt you out of the cocoon of guitar wizardry Davidson and Gargiulo so carefully weave (although “Invidious” does a great job of piquing interest with its banjo assault) and no song seems quite as anthemic or theatrical as “Dethroned,” despite the best attempts of the fantastic “The Gift You Gave.” The slightest sparkle of brilliance separates Revocation from the opus that is Chaos of Forms. That being said, there’s still a lot being offered up here, and I fail to see any reason to be disappointed.
It’s clear this quartet are as tight as ever, and every one of them gets their fair share of the mix, as is necessary when there’s so much interplay going on between them. This would be a good album simply from a technical and writing standpoint, but the thing that sets Revocation apart from other bands is what makes it great. That mysterious element is something that seems lacking from a lot of metal these days: fun. Despite the obvious technicality there’s no feel of pretense or musical snootery to be found here: almost every track is just fun as all Hell.
There’s something special about Revocation songs that energize the listener like death metal never has before, inspiring sing-alongs and air guitar to a degree unmatched by anything in recent memory, and there are plenty of those songs on this album. Revocation deserves its title by forcing a face-splitting grin upon anyone listening to it, and that quality is why this quartet continues to be one of the most beloved metal bands around today.