Review Summary: Netherheaven has bangs.
Whenever I think of the more modern exports amongst the death metal scene my thoughts hardly ever venture towards the Revocation camp. Perhaps that’s wrong, but the Boston-based death-heads’ particular brand of flamboyant death metal and thrash aesthetic seems wholly one dimensional. That’s not to dismiss an entire discography of Revocation music just for the sake of some journalistic pandering (that could be considered irresponsible to say the least). Netherheaven
is a vast sonic landscape, technically rich with virtuosic leads from guitarist David Davidson who keeps an impressive, blinding pace. Netherheaven
’s “Diabolical Majesty” begins to call back on the band’s early to mid 2010 records, awash with the same ferocity that didn’t quite translate to the group’s The Outer Ones
and yet, the modern day visage doesn’t achieve the same standard as Deathless
or the self-titled. Perhaps this has something to with the consistent planting of breakneck proficiency; talent on display at pace. Netherheaven
. No doubt. But its value is marred by a simplicity of blending technicality into the same wall over and over again.
The one-two punch of “Lessons in Occult Theft” and “Nihilistic Violence” seem to reinforce this point. There’s a lot going on amongst the hellish tones. Riffs to make any vintage die-hard Slayer fans weak at the knees surpass the general observations of where exactly death metal supposedly meets thrash, but it’s the melody points that earmark just how much Davidson carries this band, shredding his way through every poignant heavy moment. “Galleries of Morbid Artistry” takes on a slightly different silhouette to the rest of the track’s found within Netherheaven
’s more furious soundscapes. Its climes are just different, mellowed out by the less abrasive, wailing harmonies that bulk out its larger being.
Later cuts return again to the abrasive, angular directions that sustain themselves through Davidson’s clear-cut guitar lines. Mostly and efficiently, the other members of Revocation’s trio take a back seat, firmly sticking to their respective roles which in turn, lift Netherheaven
back to some of the standard fans fell in love with all those years ago. Razor riffs dominate the album’s forty-five minute run time, adorned only by some of the best guitar solos metal fans are likely to hear this year. But it’s perhaps “Re-Crucified” featuring both Cannibal Corpse vocalist and the late Trevor Strnad of The Black Dahlia Murder that will stand out the most, swapping the technicality for a terrifying dose of brutality. Of all of Revocation’s cuts, “Re-Crucified” hits the hardest—not because of the clear heaviness or articulate winding riffs, but because we will never hear such a combination again.
I admit it’s hard to fault Revocation’s newest export for being exactly what it is, and it’s not on my agenda to paint it with a brush that would do so and yet, Netherheaven
washes unto its own majesty. Netherheaven
is technically great, all over and immense to break apart bit by bit. It’s the cyclical, cynical edge to which we hold new music that prevents such an immensely talented band from transgressing the bounds to where good music is treated as so all the while we heap praise on those acts that make technicality memorable, we forget to remember just why technicality is so important to a genre so constantly criticized for not moving forwards. Dave Davidson may have bettered his past song-writing talents, but the cost is clear; impressiveness balancing with mediocrity, mediocrity making room for innovation and the cluster*** caught in between. Revocation manages to bridge the gaps without making it completely clear of the wreckage underneath.