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A cryptic mind-job of an album. - 78%

hells_unicorn, November 16th, 2012

There is a widespread practice in present day American metal (and elsewhere to varying extents) to cut and splice different influences into a hybrid form with varying degrees of obviousness. Particularly in the present retro-thrash craze, there is a sort of inevitable pushback coming from some in the modern department to avoid sounding too much like a red, green or black cliche after the molds of Exodus, Kreator, Slayer, Bathory, and all the other usual suspects that have had veritable tribute bands spawn forth in the name of continuing their 80s catalog. Revocation stands as sort of an odd, quirky exception to the general rule of action vs. reaction, as they embody all the usual tricks of the trade employed by all the old guard, yet have managed to also fully embrace the modernity that is normally found in America's melodeath/metalcore scene in the same locale of New England.

While the professed style of this 4 piece is a brand of technical death/thrash, the musical results of "Chaos Of Forms" speak a good bit to a sort of progressive/avant-garde take on said hybrid. There's no shortage of technical gimmicks, as some of the guitar solo material and rapid paced drumming would pass for a competent Necrophagist emulator, but the overally way that this music is presented almost bizarre in its incorporation of older and newer influences. The songs are generally of a shorter variety in line with the average thrash album, yet are generally through-composed and tend to avoid having too many obvious hooks the way an otherwise similar outfit in Into Eternity would. Sometimes a chorus is found restating itself a second time, but usually the amount of genre-bending interludes and bridges that take place between them are so mind-boggling that one would tend to forget that the same song is still going. Take for example the fairly short and fast paced cruiser "Harlot", which is under 3 minutes in length, yet goes through so many changes between jazz/blues breaks and odd tempo changes that it feel like it's over 5 minutes long.

The one area where this band manages to fall into a commonplace setting is the vocals, which listen like the usual smattering of Gothenburg meets New York Hardcore gruff that is typical to most New England metalcore bands. Granted, there are some interesting clean vocals mixed in, particularly on the really outlandish Dream Theater meets Cynic title song "Chaos Of Forms", but for the most part the vocals are pretty conventional and act as an anchor of sorts for the unfettered stylistic questing going on in the instrumental department. Likewise, while the sheer number of contrasting ideas going on in every song is astounding, the actual ideas themselves are pretty easy to identify. Heavy amounts of groove-infused Exhorder and latter day Exodus intermingle with a number of earlier Bay Area and Teutonic ideas, culminating in a number of songs that are mildly reminiscent of Megadeth's relatvely unique niche on "Rust In Peace", but painted over with such an overtly modern production job that the analogy is not without a host of musical caveats.

The greatest enemy that this album has is its own overblown sense of eclecticism, resulting in an album that is more a portfolio of compositions rather than an collection of songs. There's a few points where things get catchy, but they are fleeting and ultimately culminate in a sound that somehow manages to be consonant and melodic yet too complex to be memorable. This album functions more on initial impact than it does on leaving a lasting impression in the listener, though a few songs like "No Funeral" with its overt Overkill tendencies and "Beloved Horrifier" with its flashy Megadeth riffing approach do stand out as the clearest examples of a consistent sound that will appeal to conventional thrash metal fans. There is definitely something going on here, but it lacks the necessary focus and clarity that goes with a genuine new classic.