Boston’s Revocation have always been greatly admired for their technically proficient musicianship. Band founder and guitarist extraordinaire David Davidson is a graduate of the Berklee College of Music, and he has assembled a top notch cadre of musicians around him. A few lineup changes have occurred over a career now spanning six full-length albums since 2008, but the quality of the musicians has always been as high as one can hope for.
Revocation do have their detractors, though, with the main points of contention being a sterile approach to production, resulting in music that sounds inorganic and impersonal, and an over reliance upon technical wizardry at the expense of catchy songwriting.
The attitude shift occurred with the release of 2011’s Chaos Of Forms, their third album. That album saw a stylistic change from what was previously a more organic, death metal approach (albeit, with a great deal of technicality) to what we now see today: a highly proficient, technical band that toes the line between melodic death metal and thrash metal.
No one can reasonably expect Revocation to revert back to their earlier approach, and that’s certainly not the case with Great Is Our Sin. It picks up where 2014’s Deathless left off with a seamless blend of melodic death metal and thrash metal. Once again, the level of technical proficiency is very high, and a lineup change has occurred with Ash Pearson (3 Inches Of Blood) now playing drums.
Great Is Our Sin opens with the one two punch of “Arbiters Of The Apocalypse” and “Theatre Of Horror,” two generally fast tracks that set the stage for the rest of the album with riffs, fluid solos, and fast time changes that are more seamless than jarring or disjointed.
The modern production showcases each instrument with crystal clarity, and also gives Revocation the organic quality that was lacking on Chaos Of Forms, for example. Gruff vocals from Davidson are backed up by semi-clean vocals, with second guitarist Dan Gargiulo also making vocal contributions.
The pattern of fast tempos, fluid riffing and soloing, and tempo changes largely doesn’t change, but interesting songwriting elements that deviate from the template do occur. Songs such as “The Exaltation” and “Profanum Vulgus” slow the pace a bit, and “Only The Spineless Survive” provides a rare moment of dissonance. “Copernican Heresy” ratchets up the catchiness, and album closer “Cleaving Giants Of Ice” finishes the album with a near dirge, a few vocal harmonies, and more soloing.
Great Is Our Sin continues Revocation’s mastery of technical proficiency, and the production lends that organic quality that is crucial for non-musicians to appreciate the music. Past detractors of Revocation will probably not be converted, but, Revocation’s musical prowess is undeniable.
(released July 22, 2016 on Metal Blade Records)