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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.

Chaos to Forms - 85%

Odovacar, February 20th, 2012

It’s tough to be a metal band in 2012. Not only does one have to contend with piracy, a shrinking music industry, and a crowded pond filled with the scum of other metal bands, but one has to be able to stand out musically. Some bands take the safe route and pay tribute to their heroes, often blurring the line between cover band and plagiarism. Other bands take what they love and mix in other genres of music. Revocation takes the thrash metal backbone, throws on a bit of death and sprinkles in some progressive elements to stand out from everyone else.

When cobbling together more than one genre, you invariably end up sounding like several other bands. That’s not always a bad thing; it’s interesting to see which bands are allowed to influence the music. For Revocation, they give a nod to plenty of bands, yet allow the music to be its own entity with catchy, aggressive riffs and solid songwriting. The beginning to “The Watchers” sounds like a B-side to Atheist with keyboards (around 3:15) that sound like that they belong on a Deep Purple record, followed by some tasty cowbell and a blistering neo-classical lead to close out the track.

The sounds of progressive metal become evident on tracks like “Dissolution Ritual” starting with a very prog-riff that goes into a smooth and relaxing lead, contrasting with the anthemic chorus around the 1:51 mark and ending with an acoustic fade-out. They really slam the progressive and thrash elements together on “Dethroned” that sounds a bit like a Dream Theater track with less meandering. Which is pretty surprising, for all of the styles that Revocation throws into their songs, they keep it under five minutes and to the point. I’m a fan of longer tracks, but some bands don’t know how to make them interesting and thankfully Revocation knows their limits on how long a track should be.

For all of the bands and styles represented on this album, I think that the influence of Megadeth is the most noticeable. It sounds like Chaos to Forms could have been an album written between So Far, So Good…So What! and Rust in Peace. While Chaos to Forms doesn’t sound explicitly like those aforementioned albums, it carries traits of what Megadeth was known for: straight-forward thrash riffs with lead flourishes (“Cradle Robber”) and ripping leads that pull heavily from the pentatonic and blues family of scales (“Cretin” and “No Funeral”). I don’t think that Mustaine could ever write a song like “Harlot” – anthemic, mosh-pit-ready-thrash metal until the funky bass and 70s-porno-wah guitar hit the ears near the end. That is something I love about this band, they know how to thrash with the best of them and are not afraid to take some very unorthodox chances with the song.

Which is interesting, considering that their previous album, Existence is Futile, is a more straightforward thrash metal record showing off the virtuosic talents of lead guitarist, David Davidson. Perhaps since it was their major label debut they decided to play it safe and after getting the praise for that album, decided to really let their influences be noticed on their musical sleeves.

For all the hardships that face a band nowadays, I think that Revocation will be able to survive, especially since they’re garnering attention on major tours. If you enjoy the finer things in life, such as thrash and death metal, and some funky bass, then you owe it to yourself to enjoy Chaos to Form.

Originally posted on Teeth of the Divine.

Stunted chaos - 73%

Andromeda_Unchained, November 3rd, 2011

I was very fond of Revocation's sophomore effort Existence is Futile, and I remember saying that the band had the potential to be better. Potential I thought would have been realized on the all-important third album Chaos of Forms. Prior to release I was impatiently awaiting the album with salivating enthusiasm, the artwork was fucking cool, with the logo looking very Ride the Lightning, and the lead-off track "Cradle Robber" happened to cleave my head right down the middle. Sadly, listening to the finished product, I don't think they quite cut it this time around.

Not that this is bad by any means, I'd much rather listen to this than a lot of the feces cluttering up the thrash and (technical) death metal circles at the minute. The band is still in top form, and David Davidson still wows with his guitar wizardry. I would have liked the bass to be a little more prominent amongst the guitars and drums, but it is a minor niggle as you can still hear it, it just isn't as exciting as on the last album. I think what lets Chaos of Forms down is that some of the tracks are really quite skippable, "Dissolution Ritual" almost sounds like it was a lost b-side from Atheist's Elements album, and kills the flow quite a bit early in the album. "Conjuring the Cataclysm" is cool enough but really doesn't kick off like it should. I can see what they were going for in those two tracks, but they should have appeared later in the album.

Approaching the second half of the album "No Funeral" is a good thrasher, and serves as a good wake-up call, although I still feel as though something is lacking. "Fractal Entity" is a throw-away mess of dissonance and grooving. Thankfully the title track raises the ass-kick-o-meter with some Ron Jarzombek moments of technicality, and a lot of the energy and fervor seen on their previous album. The album is at its finest in the last five tracks, "The Watchers" has some of the album"s best riffs and the horns and Hammond solo at the end of the track is almost a stroke of genius, more of that next time please. "Beloved Horrifier" should have been placed earlier in the track-listing, and is maybe the finest thrasher of the album.

Overall we have pros in increased melodic tendencies, genuinely cool ideas, and every single guitar lead on the album, David really is quite the player. As for the cons, the vocals, as on the last album, are a sore spot, the album is almost equal parts brilliant track to dud track, and finally there are some groove/modern parts that don't sit well – I hope they can ditch them next time around. On the whole Chaos of Forms is worth checking out, as there are some really good tracks. However, as a fan of the band and their previous album I will say I am disappointed due to the amount of skippable (read; crap) tracks.

Originally written for

The Swiss Army Knife of New England aggression - 70%

autothrall, August 16th, 2011

Having finally asserted themselves as one of Massachusetts' most successful extreme bands outside of the metalcore discount bin, it is now Revocation's task to continue to impress their growing legion of national and international fans. Chaos of Forms is every bit the tango of technical death and thrash influences that its predecessor Existence is Futile was, drawing inspiration from a wide array of sources (Exodus, Megadeth, Exhorder, Pantera, Death, etc), and honed in on the high standard of professionalism and proficiency that bassist Anthony Buda, drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne and guitar prodigy David Davidson all exhibit on their respective instruments. That said, I can't help but feel substantially less impressed here than I was with that sophomore effort, though there is still a lot to take in here.

For one, I think I've just grown tired of the band's vocals. They were never their forte, but here they just seem like a tireless stream of metalcore-like shouts integrated with some blackened Chuck Schuldiner rasping and Kyle Thomas/Phil Anselmo attitude. Solid enough to support the band's thinner, punchier riffing, but just nowhere near as interesting as the music. Some leeway should be given as they sing and play simultaneously, but in a studio setting I'd expect to hear a little more character and imagination here. The other downside is that the influences often poke through the compositions a little too boldly, for instance you'll hear a riff here or there that sounds like it's in direct stylistic tribute (NOT a note-for-note violation) to Megadeth here, or Destruction there, or Exodus over there. This isn't news, really, since the last album had a similar foundation, but it seemed to mesh together better as a whole, where here, the individual elements stand out further from their environment.

Those quips aside, though, Revocation understands how to write a goddamn riff, and Chaos of Forms is loaded with them. I enjoy the album's more mathematical constructs, like "Dissolution Ritual" and "Conjuring the Cataclysm" with their progressive, almost fusion segues. They can do surges of melodic death escalation like "No Funeral" which should have the Soilwork crowd lined up for t-shirts in no time, and then tear into tech death/thrash with the title track or "The Watchers" which will impress the more hardcore brutal sect that follow the modern Californian scene. Precision and polish are two areas in which these Bay State bludgeons excel, and there's nothing 'old school' or exceedingly redundant about what they write, even if they derive from a hundred or so precedents.

Tense and talented, the future still seems limitless for this band, and they deliver on the stage just as bloody a nose as they do in the studio. Even if half the riffs don't stick, they've obviously spent a good deal of time composing the thousand or so that comprise the album, and I found myself revisiting quite a few of them. They would benefit enormously from a more charismatic and vicious vocalist, like those that defined their 80s thrash influences. These feel a little too forced and formulaic in terms of tough guy emotion. Yet I appreciate that, despite all their virtuosity, they never indulge themselves too much to the detriment of their songwriting. Is Chaos of Forms deserving of its surrounding storm of high praise and hype from prominent press outlets? Is this the next 'savior' of metal music? Signs point to no fucking way. However, even if individual strands of composition breed familiarity, Revocation is at least a band striving for 'something', and that's more than I can say for the countless, faceless clones who seek nothing but the secure shadows of their forebears.