Review Summary: ReVamp kicks off their career with a somewhat generic yet polished album.
Formed from the aftermath of After Forever's demise, there were high hopes in 2010 for what would become Floor Jansen's new project and their debut album, each of which to be aptly titled 'ReVamp'. Personally, I like the name ReVamp, it makes sense in a subtly humourous way in combination with the band logo, which appears to be a modified version of the old After Forever omega symbol. It was as if Floor had simply hired new members and 'revamped' After Forever, and in the end, nothing of value was lost and things would continue as they were, better than ever - or so it seemed.
Unfortunately, many were disappointed with the release of 'ReVamp', labelling it generic and uninspired. Some didn't get the name either, feeling that a gothic band which calls itself 'ReVamp' was just too corny from the get go, and that the knock-off After Forever logo did anything but help. Thankfully, I am not one of those people and have quite enjoyed ReVamp's first release since I first heard it, and thus, will be reviewing it in a positive light.
Some of the major strong points of ReVamp's first release include the commendable production quality that does wonders on songs that are rather simple in songwriting, but brilliantly sung by Floor Jansen with full passion and power. 'ReVamp' is an album proving that songs don't have to be deeply complex melodic masterpieces in order to please their listeners, IF the songs are performed in a way that captures their mood and atmosphere wholeheartedly. A rather extreme example of this occurence elsewhere would be the song 'Eva' by Nightwish, where a simple melody is transformed into something epic by great production. For many songs on the album 'ReVamp', it is the same case, for they may not be the most daring and original material symphonic metal has to offer, but nonetheless provide something that is polished and well-formulated enough to enjoy from start to finish.
One of the main highlights of 'ReVamp' would surely be the opening track, entitled 'Here's My Hell'. The song's dramatic nature and catchy hooks providing instant appeal to the casual symphonic metal listener. Metallic power ballad 'Sweet Curse' follows suite at a mellowed pace, resembling an evolved version of 'Lithium' by Evanescence. The music intensifies once more and the choir hits hard with 'Million', bringing us back to the days of After Forever, particularly the track 'Withering Time', which involved similar use of choir. Closing track 'I Lost Myself' also shows resemblance to After Forever's later material, this time emulating the bonus track 'Lonely' from After Forever's self-titled album, as another sad yet beautiful piano ballad.
Good as the album may be though, 'ReVamp' falls flat at times due to questionable or poorly thought out lyrical content throughout some of the songs. Some lines fail miserably at conjuring visual imagery in the listener, of the type demonstrated very well in the opening sequence of 'Bring Me to Life' by Evanescence;
How can you see into my eyes like open doors"
Leading you down into my core where I've become so numb
With only two lines of the first verse, the listener receives an image similar to that of a spooky young girl sitting in her bedroom at night, with the reflection of a door opening in her eyes. Like the start of a haunting film, we are lead into the reflection of the door, into the girl's soul. This is an example of fantastic visual imagery in music. In ReVamp's 'Break' however, we are left with this;
It feels like a knife
It feels like bathing in ice
It feels like dying; parts of me just did
Now think about this for a moment. The only visual imagery I get from the above is of someone lying in an icy bathtub, while their limbs become frostbitten from the cold and to top it all off they are slowly dying after being stabbed with a knife which is currently jutting out of their bloody chest. Throw in some twitching from the unfortunate victim and you are left with an ugly and awkward scene that takes more away from the song than it adds to it.
I have to say though, if I were to compare ReVamp's debut album with Evanescence's material any further, I would add that ReVamp are generally stronger musically, with examples being the addition of a seemingly 'bouncing' choir during a break on 'In Sickness 'Till Death Do Us Part 3: Disgraced' and the dark humour involved with 'The Trial of Monsters'. Apart from ReVamp also being somewhat more heavy than Evanescence, these are things that one would not expect to hear when listening to an Evanescence album.
In short, although 'ReVamp' may be a tad generic for more adventurous listeners, it still serves its place for those who appreciate both gothic themed and symphonic metal music, being musically strong without straying far from known territory.