CD Review: REVOCATION – Chaos of Forms
Recently, while cleaning my house, blasting Rust in Peace and playing air guitar with the vacuum cleaner hose, I began to ponder metal's rejuvenating powers. I'm talking about music that effortlessly plies the art of shredding, wantonly ripping out ridiculous riffs and generally astounding us with its dexterity. This kind of metal makes me feel as if I've shed half my years. I'm not asking for some cerebral, transcendent meaning from such music; I want a vulgar display of guitar wizardry. Revocation is the first modern band that comes to mind when my old bones are in need of a metal mainline. Chaos of Forms fits this bill precisely, nothing if not astonishing from start to finish.
Revocation hit a stylistic stride with Existence is Futile, cementing their impeccable brand of thrashing, death-tinged mayhem. Chaos of Forms builds on that rabid formula, maintaining its core while expanding the look and feel of the tunes. The band explore more daring compositions while unleashing the same bounty of memorable, jaw-dropping riffs. Some of the blues-based shreddery we heard on Empire of the Obscene has been reincorporated into the repertoire, restoring a bit of the rocking vibe that marked certain tracks on the band's debut album. I approve entirely. David Davidson is most certainly the mutant love-child of Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman; his strengths are most evident in the seamless juxtaposition of pentatonic ballsiness and classically trained acrobatics.
The new-found diversity takes many forms. Tracks like “Conjuring the Cataclysm” include blasting sprints that give off wisps of an icy black metal vibe. Then again, the same song features progged out clean guitars that remind me repeatedly of a Marty Friedman solo album. The title track echoes that sentiment, including some of the finest leads I've heard in years. Second guitarist Dan Garguilo makes several contributions in the solo department, perfectly matching wits with David Davidson and injecting an enjoyable, dueling atmosphere in the process. “The Watchers” incorporates horns and keys, a first for Revocation. While not unpleasant in and of itself, the inclusion of these instruments gives the tune a more symphonic feel and imbues the track with an aroma of Dream Theater or Symphony X. I'm not complaining; it's all in good fun.
Moments of progressive oddity in “Dissolution Ritual” fittingly conjure Atheist with daedel complexity. Despite the frequently abstruse nature of David Davidson's riffs, I'd hesitate to use the word 'technical' to describe his guitar work. The term evokes a heartless, pejorative lack of soul to my ears. This album has too much character and too many moments of stunning, rhapsodic melody to be described thus.
Chaos of Forms make strides in songwriting, utilizing vocal patterns and song structures to gouge out hunks of your mind. “Cradle Robber” has been lodged in my brain from the first spin of the album. David Davidson tries some semi-melodic, sort-of-singing that works particularly well in stringing a hook to the song's chorus. For the most part, though, he delivers the same demoniac vocals he's always utilized, giving voice to sentiments on the very edge of sanity.
I'm particularly fond of the production on Chaos of Forms. Anthony Buda's nimble bass playing is much more audible, simultaneously giving the mix more punch and endowing the album with the feel of a classic metal outing. Phil Dubois-Coyne ably anchors these tunes with his dexterous and tireless drumming. Despite the constant guitarstorm at hand, the articulate mix ensures that Revocation's whipcrack rhythm section won't be taken for granted.
Chaos of Forms is just good fun. I've been walking the streets of Manhattan with this thing blasting in my ears, weediling the shit out of my imaginary ax and scaring tourists with random bursts of air guitar. Revocation tap into the fundamental appetite for destruction, and that youthful abandon is infectious. If we've become so jaded that we can't appreciate the value of stupendous, pretension-free shredding, I think it's time to step back and reassess the meaning of metal.
Chaos of Forms is out on 8/16 via Relapse Records.
You can stream Chaos of Forms in its entirety at Guitar World.