22 June 2016

Review: Revocation – Great Is Our Sin

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[divider] Revocation-GreatIsOurSinBoston’s Revocation have been making quite the name for themselves over the past decade, with their elaborate, genre defying take on extreme metal. Their sixth album, Great Is Our Sin, marks the debut of new drummer Ash Pearson, who slots in perfectly as the band tear their way through ten new tracks (and bonus cover).

Revocation are not the most straightforward of bands, and it’s difficult to pin their sound down. Generally speaking, it’s a mix of death and thrash, although there’s a fair amount of progressive and melodeath elements thrown in too. Most of the tracks are very busy, with multiple shifts and changes crammed into the three-five minute running times. It’s tricky to get this sort of approach right, especially with the relatively brief song lengths. Revocation succeeds as often as they fail here, being captivating and draining in equal measure. When this approach works, it works wonderfully. Sometimes there’s a bit too much going on, and as they jump from one idea to the next, it can be easy for the mind to wander.


One thing that is indisputable is the quality of the performances on the record. There is a great level of technical proficiency displayed, given extra clarity by the polished production. A multitude of riffs are flawlessly played by guitarists David Davidson and Dan Gargilo, with plenty of variety in tempo and complexity. One minute they’re playing at blistering speed, the next they’re contorting and twisting the riffs slowly as the songs unfurl. For all their proficiency, there aren’t that many flashy guitar solos, with most lead sections instead building upon the accompanying riffs. Ash Pearson compliments their work perfectly, relentlessly pummelling away on the skins and displaying some thunderous fills and inventive cymbal work. Brett Bamberger’s bass rumbles along nicely in the background, his impressive playing in “Cumbling Imperium” his only real opportunity to shine. The vocals are predominantly harsh shouts and growls, with the odd clean passage that brings to mind Matt Heafy of Trivium and Björn Strid of Soilwork. There’s nothing remarkable about them, but they do the job and aren’t detrimental to the music.


After a  few listens, the album seemed to split into three distinct sections, with a strong opening and closing trio of songs sandwiching the inferior material. “Arbiters of the Apocalypse” flies out of the traps with a barrage of thrash riffing and double bass, before shifting between conventional death metal and a more abrasive melodeath sound (think Arsis or some of Detonation’s less accessible stuff). “Theatre of Horror” has an equally energetic opening before slowing to a more measured, calculated pace, before “Monolithic Ignorance” once again recalls the coarse melodeath sound. Midway through fourth track “Crumbling Imperium” is where things tail off slightly, the music becoming less memorable and more convoluted. There are still moments of brilliance, although the song writing is less consistent. This is none more apparent than in instrumental “The Exaltation”. It starts off superbly, with riffs, melodies and leads logically building upon one another, before descending into a series of musical passages that don’t really fit together. It’s a pattern that is too common in the middle part of the album. Thankfully, things pick up with “Only the Spineless Survive” and “Cleaving Giants of Ice”, before a commendable take on Slayer classic “Altar of Sacrifice” closes the curtain on proceedings.


Great Is Our Sin is sure to be a winner with long time fans, containing all the elements that will have won them over initially. There is plenty for newcomers to enjoy too, although they should approach with patience and an open mind. There is room for improvement, but in spite of the lull in the middle of the record, this is still a solid effort that is sure to solidify Revocation’s status as one of modern metal’s more dependable bands.


Rating: 3.5/5

Highlights: “Arbiters of the Apocalypse”, “Theatre of Horror”, “Cleaving Giants of Ice”

Band links: Facebook, Bandcamp


By Kevin McDonald