I discovered the four member, Boston
based group Revocation
, at the same time as I discovered their third opus “Chaos of Forms
.” Since then I have bought their first self-produced album, Empire of the Obscene
(2008), and Existence Is Futile
from 2009 when the band signed with Relapse. The evolution, maturity, and symbiosis of the group is manifest and simply put I believe that Chaos of Forms
is the best metal album of 2011 (this is a highly subjective assessment that I am unabashedly sticking to!)
In preparing this review I read a few others online, one particularly critical review on Metalunderground.com, which faults the album for lack of originality and for recycling riffs. But honestly most of the classic riffs have been around for over 30 years; they’ve been used, re-used and re-worked. It isn’t a matter of original riffs; it’s how innovative one can be with what there is. In the case of “Chaos of Forms
,” what Revocation
have done is produce a solid album chock-full of technically and musically punchy tunes carried by Dave Davidson’s high/low vocal style (reminiscent of The Black Dahlia Murder
’s Trevor Strnad) and amazing guitar mastery. I don’t see that it is an effrontery to start the tune “Beloved Horrifier
” with what sounds like Judas Priest
’s Hellion followed by some à la Metallica
guitar? Isn’t imitation is the highest form of flattery? In all forms of art there are winks to the past, why should it be different with metal?
“Chaos of Forms
” is deceivingly easy to grasp which isn’t to say it is simplistic in any way. Instead it incorporates and assimilates so many musical influences, jazz, blues, rock, that there is inevitably something for everyone. This is a conscious desire on the part of frontman/guitarist Dave Davidson who studied music in an arts high school and has vast musical knowledge. Early on he was drawn to bands such as Pantera
, Guns & Roses and Annihilator
with legendary guitarists Dimebag Darrel, Slash
and Jeff Waters who vastly contributed to the metal genre by creating some of the most memorable bluesy riffs around.
Davidson’s death like vocals have often been criticized as taking away from the music. I believe on the contrary that they give an edge to the album that reminds us, even while we smile during a segment in a song that is totally anachronistic, that we are dealing with a powerful sound. The vocals also underscore the prevalent themes of doom, disillusion, and demise typical of the death/thrash metal register.
On Chaos of Forms
took on a second guitarist Dan Gargiulo who compliments Davidson and lends more complexity to some of the guitar solos for example on “Cradle Robber.” Yet for all of Davidson’s charismatic dominance of the group, no one instrument overshadows the others thanks to the excellent work of Pete Rutcho who produced the band’s first demo when it changed its name in 2005. The fact that drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne and bassist Anthony Buda have been playing and composing with Davidson since the three were in the eighth grade means that Revocation
is incredibly tight and that the enjoyment that this group of friends gets from playing together quite simply jumps out of the album and sucks you in.
Chaos of Forms
is contemporary, progressive, technical, thrashy death metal at its finest: honed and effective with catchy choruses, double bass drum beats, dissonant shredding and a smattering of pleasing old-school riffs. Every direction that you hope a song will take it does, from the funky/jazzy guitar solo in “Harlot
” to the surprising horn, cow bell and organ segment in “The Watchers.” The listener is hooked after the title track “Cretin
,” lifted up into a whirlwind of guitar interplay and not so gently deposited on the ground during the bass-laden last track “Reprogrammed” wishing that there was more. I defy even the most skeptical, quibbling and crusty metalhead not to want to bob their heads at least once. Personally I can’t wait for their next offering, Revocation
is the most talented and underrated band around and I have become an unconditional fan.
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