Empire of the Obscene

by Jedd Beaudoin

1 December 2015

Nearly a decade on, the Boston band's debut holds up and stands to melt the other digital files in your collection.
cover art


Empire of the Obscene

(Metal Blade)
US: 13 Nov 2015
UK: 13 Nov 2015

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years since Revocation’s debut album came into this world, and you’d be forgiven if, upon listening to this newly reissued and expanded slab, you thought this was a release from a brand new band. By the time the Boston-based technical death metal outfit pressed up a run of 1,000 of these bad boys the group had already been together for the better part of a decade, having formed in the year 2000 under the moniker Cryptic Warning. What the lads had pulled together in that time was an impressive collection of riffs and rhythms evident on the opening “Unattained”, a groove that’s nearly four minutes of technical perfection and, to borrow a word from a bygone era of metal scribing, brutality.

No doubt the outfit—guitarist/vocalist David Davidson, drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne and bassist Anthony Buda—had honed these numbers to fine point on the stage and in the rehearsal room before tracking as there’s nothing left to chance here. The album sequence is as relentless and unforgiving as that heard on the likes of Slayer’s Reign in Blood and the At the Gates classic Slaughter of the Soul and the playing and writing is commensurate with those releases as well. What’s also remarkable, though, is how well Revocation managed to shake up the game of playing the genre and not the music: there’s a particularly Bostonian sense of humor that creeps in from time to time (mostly via the production) and a blues-based heart-and-soul approach to the guitar leads that’s too little heard within this particular band of metal.

Davidson and his mates appear to have been as influenced by the New Wave of British Heavy Metal as the Gothenburg sound or any of the myriad technical masters that were popping up like medical waste on a New York shore ‘bout a decade back. It’s not just refreshing, even now, but necessary for the survival of any music to have new life breathed into it and that’s precisely what this trio had done way back when.

Enthusiasm for this release and the group’s ability to deliver uncompromising music that didn’t wear out its welcome upon repeated listens eventually led to Revocation’s signing with Relapse and a series of impressive releases all the way up to 2014’s Deathless, their first for Metal Blade. Buda left in 2012 and Dubois-Coyne is out of as 2015. These days Revocation is a quartet but that takes nothing away from its power or the power of this release.

The 2015 reissue adds three tracks—“Summon the Spawn”, “Unattained” and “Suffer These Wounds”, the material that comprised the sought-after demo named for the first of those pieces—and features revamped artwork as well. Plenty of folks will mistake this for a new release and that’s OK because it sounds as fresh today as it must have just a few short years ago.

Empire of the Obscene


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