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hella underrated - 89%

RapeTheDead, December 26th, 2016

I never really heard much about this album one way or another before I bought it myself. The general opinion is that it's a satisfactory Vader release, but also isn't quite as good as Litany. That being said, what is? It's easy to overlook this, especially because The Beast is often thought to be one of their weakest. Revelations seems doomed to linger in this weird transition ground between Vader's best and worst albums, but that really shouldn't be the case. This is a continuation of Vader's golden age, with all of the elements that make a great Vader album present. Revelations has some of the most complete songs, the best drumming and the most balanced production job Vader's ever had, and if you missed it before you're really doing yourself a disservice in not checking it out!

I didn't say this was the best production Vader's ever had, mind you. It's pretty hard to top the ear-raping kick drum on Litany, but Revelations takes its own approach to a heavier sound by giving the bass a little more wiggle room in the mix. Bass lines have never been more than a supplementary element to Vader's music, but their enhanced presence on this album makes for a fat, rich tone. This is also the album where Piotr really refines his trademark growl-yell; he finally found his sound on Litany, sure, but on the whole he sounds much more comfortable and less strained in his delivery on Revelations. He plays around with some unusual vocal lines, most notably on "When Darkness Calls" when he says "unconceivable evil" and varies the rhythm around a little bit when he repeats it. That's personally one of the more memorable vocal moments for me, and that track is one of their strongest on the album. May even be my favorite vocal performance from Piotr. Overall it's not quite as clean of a production as you might find on later records, nor as thick and pummeling as the sound they got on Litany, but Revelations has its own distinct vibe that works in its own way.

This sadly ended up being the last full-length Doc recorded with the band. But holy shit, lemme tell ya, on Revelations, the Doctor is IN. This is my personal favorite performance from him. He partially benefits from the slightly more diverse songs. I mean, we're still talking Vader here, so there's not gonna be TOO much deviation, but previous albums tended to have tracks that were more unitary and focused in their ideas. Revelations has a lot of different tracks that are content to have an equal amount of slow-to-midpaced groove in addition to faster, blasty moments. The songs are a bit longer on the whole to accommodate this. It doesn't matter what's going on, though, because the blast master himself knows exactly what beat fits regardless of speed. His blasting is precise down to the millisecond and he has a way of accenting straightforward drum patterns that is distinct while still not attempting to show off or overtake the riffs. On this album, he's noticeable during the slow parts too! Somehow, he keeps what should be single-minded, monotonous music consistently fresh and engaging, and his skills are all showcased to the max on Revelations. Doc is one of my favorite all-time extreme metal drummers, and this album is a huge reason for that. He makes the whole band around him better.

There's a couple of songs on Revelations that are oddities in Vader's discography, most notably "Revelation of Black Moses". It's a slower, groovy number, clocking in at just under seven minutes, which is pretty damn long for this band. This isn't something that Vader hasn't attempted before--"Reign-Carrion" functions in a similar manner, and that was on their first album, but even that was a little more brisk and reminiscent of something like Sepultura's "Inner Self". "Revelation of Black Moses" is the first time they really went for the jugular and brought their music to a snail's pace to pulverize you. It's a refreshing change of pace (even the biggest of fanboys like me will surely need a break from the hyperblasting every now and then) and the song has a very nice, natural arc, so I would say they pretty much nailed it. There are a couple other tracks that are more unusual for the way they balance a more relaxed pace with the aggressive Vaderblast. "Epitaph" starts off a bit slow, but really picks up about halfway through, which kind of throws you for a loop, as Vader love to kicks things off with a ripper. It's admittedly a bit of a strange selection for an opening track, and I personally think "When Darkness Calls" could have done the same thing in a better way. Even "The Nomad" is a bit more steady than one might be used to as well, but it ends up working in the album's favor. The middle of the album is where things really get good, and the slow start only makes it seem all that much better.

Revelations isn't totally perfect, but even the weaker moments are woven into the greater fabric of the album seamlessly. This is one of Vader's most multi-dimensional albums (mostly thanks to clever songwriting and a phenomenal drum performance) and also feels like the most complete and well-rounded thing they've put out. Why haven't you fallen in love with this yet?