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Revelation may have taken their name from a Trouble song, but their whole 20-something year career since that point has been following a trajectory away from Doom and into softer, less cacophonous and more progressive territories. Their latest step in this evolution, Inner Harbour, seems to be somewhat a homage to their native Baltimore, the map of which that adorns its cover being one of the most recognisable street plans in the world thanks to the success of the best TV show of all time, The Wire. Anyone who has seen Season 2 knows what a place of tragedy that Baltimore's harbour can be; try to imagine the closing montage of that final episode (“Port In A Storm”) with a Saint Vitus tune instead of Steve Earle's “I Feel Alright” and it's obvious what good bedfellows Doom and Baltimore could be. The problem is though there is absolutely nothing stormy about Revelation, nothing tragic, nothing violent. When the lazy sunny afternoon feel of the opening title track kicks in it's hard to imagine the place they are writing about being the place I know from the show. This is so tame, so inoffensive that instead I picture them sitting on the same dock of whatever bay Otis Reading sang his famous song about instead. Stoned off their tits as well probably.
Now I've never been a snob for heaviness. There's plenty of bands who manage to be awful while pummelling you're ears into bleeding, and plenty of bands who manage to craft amazing songs while being soft as silk. Everything I'd been told about Revelation and their stellar reputation (in lieu of the fact I've never gotten around to listening to them myself) suggests that they have fallen into this second category before, so it wasn't at all surprising to hear that they've strayed even further from their Doom roots. But I at least expected some intensity in the emotional content, if not in the musical. This completely fails at being a challenging listen in every respect. The second track on the album, “Terribilita”, borrows a few shades of late 60's Acid Rock while “Jones Falls” hits upon a pretty mystical vibe in the last minute and a half while the closer “An Allegory Of Want” is painted with more shades of woe than the rest of the album put together, but those are literally the only 3 moments of quality of the whole album. The rest sounds like a lounge music version of 70's Heavy Rock created to be played in an old folks home for people with tinnitus. I wish I was exaggerating, but I'm really not. If you're the sort of person who complains about Ghost or NWOBHM bands like Bashful Alley not being “heavy enough”, then you are going to absolutely love this...
It's not just the softness that gives me cause to complain about this though; like I said it's not normally an issue for me. But when something carries the tags of Prog and Doom I at least hope one of them will do what it says. If it is completely devoid of heaviness then it had at least better be challenging in some way, have something musically a little unusual. Aside from the few moments I described above though this adds only some faint and light synths to its musical palette. Think of an AOR/Doom hybrid- Aside from the last minute and a half “Jones Falls” even sounds like Asia. The final nail in the coffin though is that all this wimpy lightness and airiness never actually equates to musical accessibility; it runs through 6 tracks in 36 minutes and manages to produce not one memorable riff or chorus or lyric by the end of it. That's 36 minutes of my life that I want back. [2/10]
From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine- www.facebook.com/waronallfronts
While proto-doom/heavy metal has started to gain popularity in recent years thanks to outstanding releases such as Ghost‘s Opus Eponymous and the appearance of bands such as Jess and the Ancient Ones, Revelation has been dabbling in the old school since 1986. and Inner Harbor is the band’s seventh full length release.
I didn’t really know how far back in time Revelation would take but I was given a nice surprise as soon as the opening riffs of Inner Harbor greet me, bringing me back to the 60s or 70s. The fuzzy guitar tone and the melodies that the band has conjured has a nice old school flavour that is not unlike old school hard rock/heavy metal greats such as Deep Purple or Rainbow, and this definitely isn’t a bad thing. Vocalist John’s light and dreamy vocals are rather reminiscent of Papa Emeritus II, and quite quickly into the album the song progression and that rather haunting feel that the band emanates brings bands such as Ghost to mind also. Just check out the starting moments of Rebecca at the Well. The early doom style of Black Sabbath are also rather clear, not only with that slow pace and the heavy riffs, but also in the entire atmosphere that is conjured up in the music and that heavy bass presence of Bert. There are even slight stoner metal elements like on Terribilita, bringing records like Master of Reality to mind.
But rather than just indulging in old school proto-doom a la Black Sabbath, the band on Inner Harbor also incorporates some rather progressive elements as well. This is so on longer songs like the title track and Jones Falls, with the numerous different segments that the band easily goes into and out of, and also the slightly odd time signatures that are aplenty throughout the album. There are even some psychedelic elements on the album, with the usage of organs to reinforce the haunting and somewhat uneasy atmosphere on the album as well.
What really caught my attention on Inner Harbor though were the lead guitars of John, who manages to display versatility on his instrument throughout. The melodies that he pull out, and the techniques used such as the quirky lead guitars on Rebecca at the Well certainly manage to capture that old school feel of greats like Ritchie Blackmore and it is this, coupled with that mostly fuzzy guitar tone that makes Revelation such a charm.