REVIEW: REVOCATION – “The Outer Ones”
Revocation seem like a band that never rests. Amidst their extensive touring schedule the band still manages to squirrel away time to write and record and manage to come out with a new album almost every 18 months. Having released seven albums in the last decade, the band always runs the risk of releasing something which may burn fans by feeling rushed or underdone, but for whatever reason the band continues to find success and has very rarely taken a wrong step. Their upcoming release ‘The Outer Ones’ continues this pattern and has arguably put the band on a new, very appealing trajectory going forward.
Of Unworldly Origin opens the album and hits you hard from the get go. The guitar distortion and tone through the earlier sections felt like a faster and darker version of something off Trivium’s Ascendancy album, but the minute long solo in the middle of the song really drives it home. It’s a solid opener and a good welcome track for the album. That Which Consumes All Things is next and takes little time in knocking you away. There are some interesting tonal shifts in this track, but it’s the thumping rhythm line that shines through here, at times overwhelming the vocal and melody delivery. It still rocks though and is going to be immensely big in a live setting.
The next song up is Blood Atonement which has a slower and more methodical approach to its drumming; however, through its dissonant harmonies, it creates a very haunting atmosphere. It’s a very rhythmic track that is broken up by its acoustic interlude, transitioning into a barrelling midpoint that leads into the solo, which sounds like it might not work that well, good but it does . Fathomless Catacombs follows and has a djent feel about it, with added guitar flourish sprinkled throughout. It’s classy, but still harrowing, and the dissonant guitarwork helps to exentuate that feeling of unease that the band was undoubtedly trying to channel.
Title track The Outer Ones feels very much like a hearkening back to classical death metal, with heavy blastbeats and David Davidson’s fierce growls overpowering much of the track. It still has the bands killer speed incorporated into it, and another impressive solo, but is definitely one of the more interesting tracks in terms of the tempo changes. This was followed however by the underwhelming Vanitas, a decent track but one that just felt out of place when combined with the remainder of the album. Its more than likely a track that will be further appreciated over many repeat listens; however, with the exception of the final minute or so, it just lacked the drawing power of any of the related tracks on the album.
Any doubt that the band might have been starting to falter at this point is quickly quenched by instrumental Ex Nihilo. While the song has a more lighter tone than the others on the album, its still dark and hits pretty hard. Pairing these qualities with it’s straightforward structure makes it enjoyable to listen to, and a song that would absolutely kill if performed live. The albums closing double header of Luciferous and A Starless Darkness offer more of the melodic brutality that the band has been serving up throughout the album, with the former track sounding as fierce as a track that Behemoth might include in their arsenal, to the latter being another slower and more atmospheric track.
Clocking in just shy of 50 minutes on a nine song album certainly gives a ton to digest, and repeat listens highlight new intricacies to keep it feeling fresh. The key observation over the entire album is that it is clear that Davidson’s jazz education has crept well into the songwriting for The Outer Ones. The prominence of the melodic sections of each song adds depth to each track that was missing on releases like Deathless and Great Is Our Sin, and the solos feel much more organic. The melodic undertones to each of the songs make them profoundly stronger and create what could be considered The Outer Ones greatest strength. The other best quality on the album as a whole is Davidson’s growth as a vocalist. Earlier releases often felt like the vocals needed a bit of work, but The Outer Ones has proven that he has found the right form for him. Having gone less on a pathway of fierceness and shifted that focus more to tone definitely helps accentuate the lyrics and bring a greater focus to the lyrical side of the music. This is doubly important given The Outer Ones focus on the Cthulhu mythos.
Revocation‘s star has been on a steady rise for a few albums now, and the band has shown again with The Outer Ones that they are a force to be reckoned with. Coupling their strong musicianship with vivid themes and atmosphere, Revocation has tinkered with their sound in a very natural way to make an album that satiates older fans of the band while also appealing to those who have yet to fully embrace them. While it is not without its blemishes, it is definitely an album that extreme metal fans need to get in their collections.