Revocation – Netherheaven
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 09/09/22
Running Time: 44:00
Review by Paul Hutchings
It’s a symbol of the bond of brothers in the Death Metal scene in the US that Revocation have dedicated “Netherheaven” to the memory of Trevor Scott Strnad. A quality gesture and one that we can all endorse.
It’s been four years since the “The Outer Ones”, the last album by the Boston trio burst eardrums and soaked the brain. Dave Davidson (vocals / guitars), Ash Pearson (drums), and Brett Bamberger (bass) now take on the challenge of deep exploration of the allegorical and literal aspects of Hell, digging further towards the darker side of Death Metal. A quick glance at the cover artwork, crafted by Paolo Girardi (Firespawn, Power Trip) should provide all the visual answers needed.
Revocation have continued to improve with every release since their formation in 2006, and “Netherheaven” is no exception. As always, pick underneath the concrete pounding Death Metal and you’ll peel away complex layers of Progressive, Technical Metal which at times is simply pulverising.
There’s been a lot of thought put into this album. Davidson is clear about that. “We’re focusing on how we can write the best Death Metal-centric album that we possibly can while still pushing our boundaries. The new songs on “Netherheaven” are evil and sinister but also have a Progressive element to them to keep things interesting. It’s got our stamp on it, no question.”
Nine tracks over 44 minutes allows time for the band to be expansive and explosive, all contained in sharp four to five minutes songs. Opener ‘Diabolical Majesty’ paves the gateway to a thoroughly aggressive and brutal album which also showcases the tightness and musical prowess of these underrated musicians. Davidson’s gravel-soaked vocals blend nicely with the heavy riffs, the battery of drumming and the gut-ripping bass.
With a groove that underpins their songs, the album moves into dark themes that are uncharted territory. As Davidson notes, “This is our crack at Satanic.” There are certainly enough tracks to get old Nick perfectly fired up! The relentless barrage of ‘Nihilistic Violence,’ ‘Godforsaken’ and ‘Strange and Eternal’ are unrelenting, whilst the guest vocals of Strnad and Cannibal Corpse’s Corpsegrinder on closing track ‘Re-Crucified’ brings two of the best loved vocalists in the genre together.
Davidson worked on the album throughout lockdown, in fact, planting the seeds way before then. His efforts were rewarded with the production role before the mix and master arrived courtesy of the legendary Jens Bogren. The result is an intoxicating mix which works better on each play.
Lyrically, Davidson has drawn deeply. Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy,’ Robert W. Chambers ‘The King in Yellow’ and the Rapture all get their turn. Davidson’s Catholic upbringing features as he inverts the imagery in the name of Death Metal. This, plus commentary on the rising wave of evangelism amongst politicians in the US, and the ever-eroding democratic rights in their country all contribute to some of the sharpest lyrics and themes that Revocation have ever brought forward.
Poignant moments cascade as ‘Re-Crucified’ brutally concludes the album. Strnad and Fisher adding heft to a bruising beast of a track. It’s a fitting conclusion to one of the Death Metal albums of 2022.
‘Re-crucified’ Official Video
01. Diabolical Majesty
02. Lessons in Occult Theft
03. Nihilistic Violence
04. Strange and Eternal
05. Galleries of Morbid Artistry
06. The 9th Chasm
08. The Intervening Abyss of Untold Aeons
09. Re-Crucified (feat. Trevor Strnad & George “Corpsegrinder” Fisher)
David Davidson – Guitars / Vocals
Brett Bamberger – Bass / Vocals
Ash Pearson – Drums
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