Revocation: Chaos of Forms

Dane Prokofiev

Should this consistent improvement in Revocation’s musical quality keep up for all future albums, they will definitely be one of the most talented bands the Western extreme metal community has ever seen in ages.


Chaos of Forms

Label: Relapse
US Release Date: 2011-08-16
UK Release Date: 2011-08-22

Regardless of what genre of contemporary music you are into, it is very hard to be incapable of knowing and understanding what a “groove” is. A “groove” is simply slang for a very catchy or good beat, one that is infectious and sticks in your mind as easily as grass pollen does on your socks, and which resounds in your head for days, months, and even possibly years to come. Some famous examples that jump to my mind are the opening beats to Linkin Park’s “Papercut” (off Hybrid Theory) and the bruising barrage of riffs that kick off “This Moment” (off the Transformers OST) by Disturbed. Get the idea yet?

Anyhow, from the first second of opening track “Cretin” to the last echoes of the faded-out closing track “Reprogrammed”, Chaos of Forms is all about grooves, grooves, and more flakkin’ grooves! You can easily hear the technical guitar playing style of frontman David Davidson from all the fretboard wizardry he employs (through rapid tempo changes, fast transitions between riffing and searing solos, etc.), and will also notice that his shout-screams and occasional growls contribute a death metal sound to the overall music, but they don’t sound as generic as what a normal technical death metal band using the same techniques would be playing.

Take fellow American peers Arsis for example. James Malone’s guitar and vocal techniques certainly fulfill the above conditions, but his band’s music is far from being as catchy as Revocation on this album. Which also brings me to another thing to point out, which is how Chaos of Forms is a vast improvement over 2008’s Empire of the Obscene, which was mostly traditional technical death metal that chugged along rather monotonously, albeit featuring a little of Davidson’s soon-to-be trademark sound, as heard in the opening of the track “Age of Iniquity”, for example. 2009’s Existence Is Futile was the stepping stone to this near-perfect masterpiece called Chaos of Forms, as it had still featured the heavy usage of palm-muted riffs as heard in Empire of the Obscene, but contained more catchy hooks, tempo changes and groovy solos (as clearly heard in its single, “ReaniManiac”) that will eventually end up being fully explored and greatly utilized on this excellent album.

A few years ago, Cosmo Lee of the renowned Invisible Oranges blog had mentioned that he felt Revocation to be capable of becoming the “Next Big Thing In Metal”. I whole-heartedly concur with him, for it isn’t everyday you come across a band with such an inventive and virtuosic guitar player who does the vocals on top of such skillful playing. In fact, it is quite hard to believe that Davidson shares the Berklee College of Music alumni status with pop rock group, the Click Five. Listening to Revocation is hence like bringing Dimebag Darrell back to life, letting him listen to a whole pile of Joe Satriani records, and then injecting him with a liter of adrenaline before asking him to improvise on the spot and transmit ear-gasmic molecular vibrations to the surrounding air particles and into your ear canals.

There are no fillers tracks on this album, but the most outstanding numbers are “Cretin”, “Cradle Robber”, “Harlot”, “Dissolution Ritual” (this is the first four tracks in a row!), “No Funeral”, “The Watchers” and “Beloved Horrifier”. Both “Harlot” and “The Watchers” feature creative and fresh-sounding bluesy motifs after their midway marks, and “No Funeral” starts off with an attention-grabbing series of muted drum beats that steadily increases in volume and eventually culminates into a frantic bombardment of energetic riffs. Also, a slow number in the form of “Conjuring the Cataclysm” not only serves as a bridge between the exciting “Dissolution Ritual” and unusually interesting “No Funeral”, but is a brief respite from all the shredding and riffing as well, as can be heard from the quiet strumming at its start and middle section.

The fact that the foursome work together as a very tight band (with all three guitar players performing group vocal harmonies frequently, and the drummer providing great, technical percussion support) remains, and that alone warrants some degree of admiration and respect already. Should this consistent improvement in Revocation’s musical quality keep up for all future albums, they will definitely be one of the most talented bands the Western extreme metal community has ever seen in ages. Indeed, just as their name implies, Revocation has made void the standard set by technical death/thrash bands of the past, unperturbedly shrugged it away, and blatantly branded themselves on the new musical ceiling they have constructed which will most likely remain unbroken by their seniors and fellow peers alike for a long time from now.

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