Revocation
Deathless


4.0
excellent

Review

by Alex Newton USER (46 Reviews)
October 14th, 2014 | 139 replies


Release Date: 10/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Revocation digs deep into its bag of tricks to produce an electrifying piece of thrash metal. Or death metal. Whatever it is, it's good.

Revocation has come a long way for a band once touted as a one-trick pony. Guitar virtuoso David Davidson is clearly still the focal point of the quartet, but his and drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne’s time studying jazz at Boston’s Berklee College of Music gives the band a veritable arsenal of songwriting techniques to play with. No album in the band’s career covers such sonic territory as Deathless, and few in any genre so effortlessly integrate unconventional songwriting techniques as Revocation does here. Each album that Revocation has so far put out has had a slightly different identity – breakthrough effort Existence Is Futile was balls-to-the-wall deathrash, while Chaos of Forms saw more experimentation in both melodic composition (“Harlot” and “Fractal Entity”) and song form (the inexorable build of highlight “Conjuring the Cataclysm”). Last year’s self-titled smoothed things out a little, but arguably lacked a dynamite single. Fortunately, Deathless fixes that and then some, with a great mix of no-frills thrash and powerhouse cuts that encompass the best Revocation has to offer.

Much ado has been made about what genre Revocation fits into, and while it’s certainly a debatable question, there are far more interesting debates to be had about the band’s sound (for the sake of argument, Revocation is a combination of death and thrash metal). Davidson and Brett Bamberger’s array of high-voltage riffs point to thrash of the Megadeth and Pestilence mold, while the rhythm section has more in common with technical death metal. And then the band throws in something like “Madness Opus,” which flirts with doom in its second half, or the bizarre dual-lead harmonies of “United Helotry,” and those labels begin to slip away. Davidson acknowledges Gorguts and Atheist as influences on his songwriting, and it’s easy to see the overt technicality and jazz influence when Revocation trades in endless riffs for more exploratory compositions. Penultimate cut “Apex,” for instance, weaves its way through several instrumental sections that conclude with open-ended chords (major VII and diminished II show up multiple times), lending the song an intriguing sense of unpredictability as it charges onward.

“Labyrinth of Eyes” is perhaps the most surprising song here, as it sounds like Revocation by-the-numbers out of the gate before moving into Cynic territory with processed clean vocals and an extended jam featuring polyrhythmic passages that Dubois-Coyne anchors with a distant china symbol. “Scorched Earth Policy” is probably the best showcase of Davidson’s favorite toy – use of multiple modes within the same song. Basically, modes are the result of using a set of notes that belong to one scale in a different one; Davidson's mastery of these gives him freedom to wander between the song’s base and various new directions which he explores during his solo forays. The album’s grand finale, “Witch Trials,” contrasts uplifting major chords with tritone-based riffs that lend credence to the sinister paranoia of the song’s title. After bursting from gate with a flurry of syncopated beats and slithering guitar lines, it breaks things up with solo passages and pounding grooves en route to an extended guitar solo that showcases Davidson’s uncanny control of the timbre and tone of his instrument.

The album’s title track, on the other hand, is a departure from such adventures – “Deathless” rides a huge clean chorus and unrelenting shredding to anchor all the musical chicanery around it, and might be the best combination of catchy and heavy since the band’s 2010 single “No Funeral.” As Revocation has continued to crank out new music every year or two (no long waits with these guys!), the quartet is continuing to improve in every area including songwriting and compositional balance. Regardless of genre or label, Revocation isn’t afraid to go outside its comfort zone, but the band’s solid technical and theoretical foundation allows it a great deal of leeway in such forays. Now five albums in, Davidson and company have more or less hit the bull’s eye with Deathless; while it’s hard to figure what they’ll do as an encore, there’s little doubt that it will be both somewhat unexpected and totally wicked.



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Chart.
4
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Revocation's magnum opus...


Comments:Add a Comment 
pedro70512
October 14th 2014


3505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

As always, ratings and feedback are appreciated. Album stream is still available:

http://www.metalinjection.net/av/full-album-stream/revocation-streaming-deathless-in-full

Digging: Gris - Il Etait une Foret...

emester
October 14th 2014


4239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

album was really enjoyable overall. and as always, nice review


Digging: The Black Twilight Circle - Tliltic Tlapoyauak

Gameofmetal
October 14th 2014


3291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review, pos'd

In terms of criticism, you still love to throw in music theory like your ROS review. While it makes you look good for knowing it, I still find it to be unnecessary in a review, not to mention potentially confusing for non musician readers. I think you could simplify it a bit. Also name dropping their 2011 ep in the last paragraph seemed a little tacked on and also an odd place to put it. Usually you see reviewers referencing past releases in the early to middle sections of the review. Otherwise the review is very nicely written.

In regards to the band's genre, I usually just classify them as thrash. I can see some death metal influence but I always thought the thrash outweighed it considerably. Just my 2 cents

Digging: Caladan Brood - Echoes Of Battle

pedro70512
October 14th 2014


3505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

"While it makes you look good for knowing it, I still find it to be unnecessary in a review, not to mention potentially confusing for non musician readers."

Haha yeah, I do love to throw it in to give concrete examples of why it sounds like it does. I try to assess it in three ways -- very general (Revocation is a combination of death and thrash metal), close listening (Cynic territory with processed clean vocals and an extended jam featuring polyrhythmic passages), and technical (The album’s grand finale, “Witch Trials,” contrasts uplifting major chords with tritone-based riffs that lend credence to the sinister paranoia of the song’s title). Not everyone's going to appreciate all of it, but as a music theory major I personally love dissecting the objective elements.

pedro70512
October 14th 2014


3505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You're right though that it can come off as pompous, like "look what I know." I've gotten positive and negative reactions to it, but I'll probably keep it in this one. Obviously I wouldn't bother if it was, like, power metal, but there's a lot of interesting stuff in here. I'll probably move the Teratogenesis bit since you mention it though.

Gameofmetal
October 14th 2014


3291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah it's clear you know what you're talking about and you state it well. Personally I prefer to talk about the general feel more than anything else.

MuhNamesTyler
October 14th 2014


4393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think I'm gonna like this a lot more than their previous album

Mall
October 14th 2014


1545 Comments


this is the first none-shit thing they've done in a while

RVAHC13
October 14th 2014


605 Comments


Really? I thought their last album was pretty choice

New album slays regardless

Digging: Bone Dance - Bone Dance

MuhNamesTyler
October 14th 2014


4393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't say that Teratogenises came out late 2012 and that EP was awesome. Not that long for a band

Mall
October 14th 2014


1545 Comments


eh it was cool like but not too memorable

didn't like Teratogenises at all, probably the production but i couldnt even tell you why really just never enjoyed it

MuhNamesTyler
October 14th 2014


4393 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought the production was fantastic

Mall
October 14th 2014


1545 Comments


i'm one of those wankers who complains about overly polished sounding stuff so just ignore me haha

CaptainDooRight
October 14th 2014


30252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review pos. I heard a track and didn't care much for it at first but I'll listen to it again and perhaps some other tracks off this from the stream you posted.

pedro70512
October 14th 2014


3505 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks Cap. I find it amusing how often you don't like things I review at 4+ and flattering that you keep trying them anyway.

CaptainDooRight
October 14th 2014


30252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I figured every serious artist deserves a fair chance.

CaptainDooRight
October 14th 2014


30252 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Although it looks nothing like it, the album cover reminds me of that doorknob face from Alice in Wonderland.

http://aliceinwonderland.wikia.com/wiki/File:Alice-disneyscreencaps.com-672.jpg

MalConstant
October 14th 2014


65 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The last track is amazing. The solo is epic.

Insurrection
Contributing Reviewer
October 14th 2014


21664 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

is this a good place to start with this band?

Digging: Soen - Tellurian

Gameofmetal
October 14th 2014


3291 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well this is their fifth so idk. I've only jammed their last two records and some of this. I don't think they've changed drastically so it might be ok.



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