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Hypnotized by ass - 64%

gasmask_colostomy, June 5th, 2017

If Revelation albums could be as interesting as their cover art, the world would be a better place. Having gone through a similar experience with most of the Marylanders' full-lengths, it's disappointing to find that Release shows no deviation from the trend, slumping back into the arms of mediocrity just like the naked woman on the cover falls into the hands of an oversized guy hiding in the shadows, who has clearly been staring at her ass for some time. That naked lady isn't even that hot, so the kind of hypnotized stare that we end up wearing as we listen to Release cannot be equated to the stare of infatuation, but rather of mild boredom and sleepiness. Anyway, into the breach of description once more.

Release is actually a rather surprising album in Revelation's discography, not least because it ended a 13 year period of near-silence from the band during which time the line-up reassembled into the original Brenner/Branagan/Hall configuration. Therefore, it might be a surprise that any album was released, particularly when one considers that this is closer in style to the album fronted by Dennis Cornelius (...Yet So Far) than anything else from the group. Unfortunately, one of the consistent features throughout Revelation's career has been a tendency to play slowly, in a manner close to traditional doom, while rarely deviating into up-tempo sections or attempting to alter the mood from a downtrodden gloominess. Sure, the band might be named after a Trouble song, but there are few exciting moments, preferring to keep things moody and atmospheric. The same elements are put to use in this mission as in the previous century: Brenner ploughs straight through the middle of fields and buildings with regularly-timed riffs, a few from Sabbath's catalogue and a few from that of Warning or some other late '80s acolyte of the traditional school, occasionally utilizing washes of cleaner guitar; Hall and Branagan cycle through moods, either passive and bored or creative and sprightly.

The biggest criticism to level against Revelation is that they don't seem to know what they are capable of. Some of the songs show clear inspiration and genuine creativity, while others do nothing notable and merely drift into the background by dint of their featurelessness. 'Epiphany' is one of the better numbers since the rhythm playing expands beyond simple timekeeping and occasional fills, plus the closing section features a bruising doom riff and bluesy, upbeat solo. 'Wither' is also a success in the guitar department, dropping in some big-hitters early on before unfolding into a jam in which all band members take some part, even if the return to a final wordless verse seems pretty redundant. However, for every decent moment, there is another that just does nothing for the listening experience. Such is the case for 'The Provenance of Clouds', which mostly drifts by at annoyingly slow pace yet injects no atmosphere into its progress until the clouds finally clear for a more energetic solo section that could easily belong to a different band let alone song. Likewise for 'Release', into which the latter solo feels so shoehorned that you are left wondering whether the album has skipped to another track, whereas the earlier slower lead fitted the music down to a tee, even reminding of Paradise Lost at their carefully controlled best.

Thus, a problem emerges with the type of song presented on Release. They are, in the first instance, too lengthy to consistently hold the listeners' attention, added to the fact that the instrumental work of the group is split in two polar opposite directions - that of the reflective doomy trudge and the burst of musical expression. In the main though, the lack of a charismatic focal point is the killer blow, since the quicker instrumental sections are diverting but not the verses, during which John Brenner weighs the songs down like an albatross around the neck. His lyrics have always been good and here they are wonderfully evocative and minimalistic, yet his singing ability has never allowed the band to get away with the flatness of the doomy sections. As such, many of the compositions here contain good parts, interesting riffs, and especially colourful lead breaks, though there is too much dross to work through at the beginning of each song, making the listen tedious.

On the other hand, if one is looking for a doom metal album to accompany chilled out activities this hits nearer to home, because the intensity is very variable and requires patience to get into. It's no secret that Revelation had some progressive tendencies lurking behind the doom fa├žade, so investing a little more time can be beneficial, despite the fact that not everything here is up to scratch. There isn't anyone else in particular who plays music like this, so it's hard to completely endorse this for a true doom audience, though if you dig anything from Paradise Lost across the spectrum to Unorthodox, there's a chance you might want to give this a spin on a quiet day.