Music

Revocation: Empire of the Obscene

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


Revocation

Empire of the Obscene

Label: Metal Blade
US Release Date: 2015-11-13
UK Release Date: 2015-11-13
Amazon
iTunes

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.

8

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image