Album Review: REVILLUSION Heart(less)
In all honesty, it's a little surprising there wasn't much of a notable industrial metal revival in recent years. In the past decade, the EDM genre exploded with a variety of styles—dubstep, trap, house, etc.— that broke out of the underground. It would seem logical for a crossover between the EDM and metal communities to lead to imminent mainstream success, yet no such event occurred. Don't get me wrong though, there definitely are modern (and even classic) industrial acts kicking ass right now. However, these bands unfortunately aren't reaching the sensational heights as DJs headlining festivals.
While a significant revival in industrial metal hasn't exactly come to fruition, I'm still hopeful that it may be inevitable considering more bands are popping up across the playing field. Projects like 3Teeth, Author & Punisher, Youth Code, Street Sects, and Combichrist are a few of the figures leading the modern industrial metal movement; Revillusion may be the next notable blip on the radar of the movement.
Driven by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist/producer Brian E. Carter, Revillusion depicts an homage to industrial metal's electronic roots while still maintaining catchy, metalcore song structure. In addition to Carter are band members Matt Kurtz (bass, guitar) and Mike Stewart (bass, guitar) with Ronnie Bass (saxophone), Kirk Camardelle (guitar), Mike Morales (guitar), and Tina Guo (cello), who all contributed to the group's recent second album Heart(less). The LP was recorded by Carter and Kyle Lamy and mastered by Ted Jensen and Justin Shturtz. In addition to all of that, there are guest appearances abound on this album
Industrial metal's stylistic scope can sometimes be rather narrow. Luckily, this album aims to broaden such a connotation through the diversity within Heart(less)'s tracks. Opener "Beautiful Gift" chugs along with a KMFDM pace with buzzy Ministry-like riffs where the following piece "Pure Pollution" has a sinister Marilyn Manson-esque quality. Meanwhile, the ballad title track is reminiscent of Linkin Park. While I'm often quick to dismiss ballads as too cheesy, this one got stuck in my head rather quickly. "Midnight at High Noon" shifted gears to a more southern groove metal style. And last but not least, the band goes full funk-mode on the closing track.
In addition to the musical variety present on Heart(less), the vocal deliveries and styles are quite broad. While the plethora of vocal styles on here was impressive, I do also realize that this is sometimes due to the guest vocalists included. Mushroomhead was one of those bands I got pretty invested into during my high school years and therefore I’ve always held a soft spot for the project and those affiliated. As soon as I heard the intro to “#AsYouWatchTheWorldBurn,” I instantly was reminded of the band and coincidentally, former vocalist Waylon Reavis (now of A Killer’s Confession) is featured on the track.
Reavis also appeared on "Salvation" and "Bleed for Me" later in the album. In regards to the other guest vocalists, the opening two tracks show Mark Hunter (Chimaira) and Raymond Watts (PIG, ex-KMFDM) respectively. Furthermore, Mark Morales (Sons of Texas) is on "Midnight at High Noon" and "Mended Broken Glass," En Esch (PIG, ex-KMFDM) on "Bleed With Me," Chris Hall (Stabbing Westward, The Dreaming) on the title track, and Wes Raymond (The Soul Factory) on "Funk You."
I’m always hesitant to approach releases that rely on dated subgenres considering they usually function through nostalgia. Although Heart(less) certainly spoon fed a rich dose of nostalgic music, Revillusion still succeeds as an enjoyable listen beyond a nostalgia factor. Through solid songwriting, modern production and stylistic trends, and a true sense of variety distributed through these ten tracks, the LP rounds out to be an extremely decent modern industrial metal album and overall proof that this subgenre is not only alive and kicking decades later, but that industrial metal has flourished over time to become more versatile.