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Antinatalism comes to Boston. - 80%

hells_unicorn, August 18th, 2013

There is definitely a radical cynicism that comes with an album title like "Existence Is Futile", and rarely does that sort of fatalistic sense of hopelessness come in an ambitious package. But that is the strange sort of no-man's land between modernity and revivalism that Boston's own Revocation lives in, so it's a fitting paradox. There was definitely a fair amount of hype surrounding this album, owing largely to its uniqueness in a scene that is addicted to a very contrived and long since stale merger of NYHC and Gothenburg melodic death metal. This band is probably about as far from a Killswitch Engage or an All That Remains as can be while still existing in an American modern metal context, and it is something that immediately scores points even before all the actual elements that make their sound are fully comprehended.

For a de facto power trio, Revocation makes quite an impressive showing with a simple arrangement of guitar, bass and drums, sounding like a band much larger and more powerful than a typical 3-piece. Granted, a fair amount of guitar over-dub work and a really crisp production carry much of this album, but it can be visualized in a live setting by mentally stripping away the extras, and the resulting image still works quite well. Mixing together a rather varied number of musical influences ranging from death/thrash, progressive rock, 80s melodic metal, jazz and even what might pass for a fusion sound at times. Most of this comes through a wide array of contrasting sections, giving each song a sort of through-composed character, though most will take note of the generally radio-friendly song lengths on display.

However, unlike most power trios, the real heavy hitting is handled by guitarist/vocalist David Davidson, whose six-string assault essentially carries the entire album while the rhythm section makes an impressive showing but mostly plays support. Even at the very onset of the intro/overture-like instrumental "Enter The Hall", its clear that the guitars are playing off a fair amount of Jon Petrucci and Michael Romeo influences. As things roll along, the lead work pretty well wanders all over the place, conjuring up familiar sounds from a number of noted virtuoso metal and eclectic rock shredders and instrumental composers normally found on Lion Music, whereas the riff work is a bit more along the lines of a modern, yet rooted in tradition death/thrash style that particularly draws inspiration from Megadeth and The Crown, among a few others from the 80s and 90s.

But for all of the extremely distant sounding variables at play in this album's stylistic nature, it is well anchored in a consistent presentation that is conducive to a sizable audience. Davidson's vocal display largely mimics the gruff and occasionally guttural hardcore character of a number of modern thrash vocalists, occasionally sounding like the post-1994 version of Chuck Billy mixed in with a bit of Tomas Lindberg. The songs are mostly consistent thrashers that either pummel at full speed like "Pestilence Reigns", or dance around a traditional thrash sound but throw in a lot of almost mathcore-like elements and blasting sections more in line with modern death metal, though there is the drawn out closing song "Tragedy Of Modern Ages" that mixes in a fair amount of blues/jazz elements with what starts off in a bit more of a traditional Gothenburg vain. It's all discernibly tied to the same consistent of sound, but it has a good amount of room to roam within its self-imposed bounds.

While perhaps a tad bit over-hyped in its day, this was definitely a decent album for 2009 and a good reminder that the eastern end of the U.S. still knows how to craft a quality metallic product. This is probably the most consistent album stylistically for the band, having a bit more focus than its predecessor, and also not being quite as adventurous as its eventual follow-up when a 2nd guitarist was introduced to the fold to give Davidson more room to meander from one musical style to the next with a greater margin of error. It might fly over the heads of a lot of people who are looking for an album along the lines of "Deathrace King", which this album does share a few commonalities with, but it is definitely something that will be easier for a run-of-the-mill fan of death/thrash to get into than what the likes of Decrepit Birth and Beyond Creation are putting out.