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The Space Shredder - 85%

Metalbros, February 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Metal Blade Records

Revocation is a curious case. They have released 7 albums since 2008, all of which have been well received by critics and fans alike. Each album has displayed the superb musicianship of Dave Davidson, with soaring solos and technical riffs that few other musicians in the metal world can consistently match. What he does so well is incorporate these complex ideas into flowing, melodic songs that casual metal fans can enjoy while the technical elements are quite nuanced and even more impressive. What I find curious is just how talented of a band Revocation is, the fact that they are as active any modern-day metal band, and yet there just seems to be something holding them back from totally taking off. As enjoyable as each album has been, there always seems to be something missing. I enjoy each album and give them a handful of listens, but never find myself going back months later to listen to them in their entirety. This is where I believe that The Outer Ones differs. To me, this has a much stronger staying power and is going to be an album I find myself returning to many times for years to come.

This band has never backed away from their ambitions, as they have created some of the most unique metal songs over the past decade. Few others would ever think of implementing a catchy, little banjo riff into the beginning of my personal favorite song, “Invidious,” off of their self-titled album. I will also never forget the first time I heard the horns and organs smoothly integrated into “The Watchers” and thinking it was so bizarre yet seamless. And then I heard the solo that followed. That sequence of events opened up a whole new world of possibilities in music to me and I have always been on the edge of my seat for any new material that Revocation creates. This brings me to “The Outer Ones.” While it does not set out to do anything groundbreaking, “The Outer Ones” manages to accomplish a strong fluidity and eerie atmosphere. Almost every song serves a purpose and forms a very cohesive whole, which the last two albums did not do a strong job of, in my opinion. There are absolutely songs that shine and a couple that take a backseat, but from start to finish the musical direction is incredibly consistent.

What sets this album apart the most, though, is that this is the heaviest Revocation I have heard. All I had to do was hear the first ten seconds of “Of Unworldly Origin” to know that this was going to be a fucking sledgehammer of an album. The common theme throughout my favorite songs on this album will always harken back to Davidson’s guitar playing. His performances on “Of Unworldly Origin,” “The Outer Ones,” and “Ex Nihilo” are truly the standouts here. Following the kick ass drum fill that opens the album, the first few minutes of “Of Unworldly Origin” incorporate various death metal and black metal elements and I was quickly enjoying the production and direction things were heading. Right at the three minute mark, Davidson takes off with my favorite solo out of all nine tracks, weaving and winding his way through my ear holes for just less than a minute, only to be cut off by the same drum fill that starts the album. This call back to the start of the song is so intense and the ability of Revocation to transition back to this piercing black metal riffing and blast beats is just incredible to listen to. The title track, “The Outer Ones,” has this cryptic, riff driving the first minute of the song that reminds me so much of Patrick Mameli’s lead work on “Stigmatized” by Pestilence. Of all the solos on the album, this one really showcases Davidson’s undeniable shredding ability. And then to incorporate an off-tempo, Meshuggah-esque Djent outro so smoothly into this song is one of those moments where this album distinguishes itself in the Revocation library for me. The third song that really captures the brilliance of Davidson’s talent is the instrumental “Ex Nihilo.” To me, there are two, distinct atmospheres that this song creates. The first is a very beautiful, melodic ambience that envelops the excitement and endless possibilities of exploring the outer limits of space. The second segment of the song very clearly occurs at the 2:32 mark with a simultaneous pounding snare drum and new Davidson solo. It’s as if our solar system is completely out of sight and out of mind, and there is nothing but the inevitability of the universe. All stress, excitement, and fear are gone the second that segment shift in the song occurs.

Revocation has always been a hard band to attach any one genre to because they implement so many different styles into their music. On this album, especially, there were multiple songs that incorporated black metal elements and I found that to be very enjoyable. It stood out on “Blood Atonement,” “Fathomless Catacombs,” and “Luciferous” and kept the heavy momentum of the album going. Not to mention, Dave’s vocals feel as powerful as ever throughout all nine songs (my favorite performance being “Luciferous”). That unpredictability and refusal to be labeled as strictly death metal, thrash metal, or any other genre is what I love most Revocation. Aside from two mediocre songs (“That Which Consumes All Things” and “Vanitas”), the music always sounds fresh and unique on “The Outer Ones” and encourages the listener to revisit this album instead of the dull, unoriginal albums that many modern metal bands are producing these days.

“The Outer Ones” deserves an abundance of praise. The majority of metal bands seem endure 5-10 year gaps between albums or they just churn out lifeless albums every year or two for their labels, but not Revocation. Their commitment to making legitimate albums consistently over a decade is almost unheard of in the Metal world. And to cap that decade off with, in my opinion, their best work of art yet is truly commendable.

Originally written for: Metalbrethren.net