By Adrien Begrand
It’s often mind-boggling which American metal bands get the big push by record labels, and which just seemingly go by unnoticed. There’s a ton of first-rate extreme music coming from south of the border, but who do we keep seeing on the SoundScan charts? Who do we keep hearing on satellite radio? The same old mediocre metal-by-numbers bores: DevilDriver, Shadows Fall, Five Finger Death Punch, Hatebreed, GWAR, yada, fucking yada. Seeing that the list of underwhelming acts is about as long as Brian Fair’s dreadlocks, now’s as good a time as any for a sea change in the genre, an injection of some new blood that can bring some welcome new energy to a rapidly stagnating sound. Enter Boston trio Revocation, who fly directly in the face of mainstream American metal convention: they’re actually good.
No, make that awesome, in every respect of the word. On the surface, the band is rooted in the same post-thrash groove that Lamb of God has dominated this decade, but unlike the otherwise likable Virginians, Revocation don’t dig themselves a safe little rut, instead using the sound as a launching pad for other, bolder musical excursions. The end result is their second album and Relapse debut Existence is Futile, an album undeniably accessible enough to draw in the Rockstar Energy™ Mayhem Fest crowd, yet clever enough to pull the rug from under everyone’s feet with sudden forays into progressive death metal and continue to command listeners’ attention while doing so.
While blights like Suicide Silence and Winds of Plague completely fail to grasp the idea of composing a plausible song, the same can’t be said for Revocation, who clearly know a thing or two about dynamic songwriting. It’s a straightforward idea that has become lost on the current wave of deathcore, and this band’s simple, disciplined approach is refreshing, thanks in large part to the brilliantly named guitarist/vocalist/songwriter David Davidson, who when he’s not crafting riffs that actually go somewhere, dares to evoke the melodicism and texture of the late Chuck Schuldiner in his solos, a true pre-eminent shredder in waiting. Factor in the efforts of bassist Anthony Buda, whose interplay with Davidson renders a rhythm guitarist pointless, not to mention a penchant for genuine hooks (“Re-Animaniac”, the instrumental “Across Forests and Fjords”) along with a predilection for cool prog metal departures (as on “The Tragedy of Modern Ages”), and you’ve got something awfully special in the making.