Revocation’s Deathless May Be Their Fiercest Offering Yet

  • Sammy O'Hagar

Revocation are getting better. Dispute that and you might as well be saying vaccines do more harm than good. However, the tricky part is quantifying how they’re getting better. Listening to Existence is Futile and their latest release, Deathless, are vastly different experiences, but that’s not to say that the former is lacking. Revocation have a bag of tricks they pull from pretty regularly, but don’t produce diminishing returns in doing so. It’s impressive and very, very few bands can pull something like it off; ironically, for a band so dedicated to pummeling your face off with laser-guided precision, their progress is subtle. But progress is being made. And as a result of that progress, Deathless may be their fiercest offering yet.

First thing you’ll notice is how unrelenting it is. Even for a band not shy about the adolescent energy inherent in their genre of choice, Deathless is about 4/5 brutal thrash nailbomb (to use a technical unit of measure). The only thing resembling a second to breathe between opener “A Debt Owed to the Grave” and “United in Helotry” seven songs later is the calm in the second half of “Madness Opus” (and even that’s after a few minutes of lumbering Suffocation-style grooves). Everything else in that range is focused, punchy, and excellent. The heaviness at the end of “Labyrinth of Eyes” and in the aforementioned “Madness Opus” are unprecedented for Revocation, and they ably harness every bit of that thundering weight.

This isn’t to say Deathless is a really fancy Devourment record; the band’s familiar assault weapon riffs are all over the damn place. This is Revocation being the most Revocation they can be, and, again, it’s better than it’s ever been. Eviscerators like “The Fix” or “Scorched Earth Policy” don’t lose their luster after a dozen or so spins, but wind up providing a satisfying complexity hidden just beneath the caffeinated fretwork. Deathless nails the flow of the record a little better than its predecessors, but the axis the band get absolutely right is the variance they provide while firing on all cylinders. Revocation may have never been this balls-out, but they never get repetitive or boring while doing so.

Now, here’s where you’d expect me to point out how the record’s last two tracks—“Apex” and “Witch Trials”—are a departure for the band, hinting at a world of nerdy death-prog to come. But “Apex” isn’t that different from the kind of instrumentals the band have done before, and “Witch Trials” is, again, Revocation-by-numbers. But, as I’ve been whacking into this dead horse for a few hundred words now, that’s not a bad thing. Quite the opposite: you come into a Revocation record expecting something specific, and they deliver with aplomb. There’s going to be no grand experimental period where they start putting out jazz fusion metal or go full Haunted and court the radio bro crowd. Revocation are here to make Revocation albums, and those albums are most likely going to be consistently great. Deathless just happens to be a little bit better.

Revocation’s Deathless comes out October 14 on Metal Blade. You can stream the track “Madness Opus” here and pre-order the album here.

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