REVIEW – Revocation: The Outer Ones

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  • Bio: "Tech-savvy American death metal band based out of Boston, Massachusetts. " - Allmusic.com
  • Label: Metal Blade Records
  • Release Date: September 28, 2018
  • Genre: Death Metal, Progressive Death Metal, Technical Death Metal, Thrash Metal
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Upon unleashing their second full-length effort Existence is Futile through Relapse Records back in late 2009, Revocation captured the attention of metal heads everywhere. Their brand of technical death metal crossed with thrash oozed a great deal of aggression and enthusiasm, standing as a young act with plenty of promise in the years to come. As they evolved, so did their fan base whether they liked it or not. Their sound was reaching a more progressive tone to their music that led to 2016’s Great is Our Sin, an effort you either loved or hated due to how dynamically different it was. Fast-forward two years and the band return with what their vocalist/guitarist Dave Davidson calls “[..] our most death metal album to date.” But does The Outer Ones live up to the hype, or is it something more than just a death metal heavy outing?

The Outer Ones kind of acts as a blend between their prior album Great is Our Sin with their 2013 self-titled album. While that more recent outing had a lighter tone in the mastering, music, and even vocals, this new recording paints a much darker opus in comparison. No, we’re not heading back to the days of Chaos of Forms in brutality and technicality, but we’re also not quite venturing into the progressive rock realm with hints of hardcore/metalcore enthusiasm in the vein of Unearth and performances bordering on modern Mastodon influence.

A good example of the hostility brought to the studio is the opening track “Of Unworldly Origin”. The technicality here is minimal, giving in to a darker piece of nineties horror-tinged death metal, blistering bass kicks, bouts of modern brutal death metal like after the impressive guitar solo, and a number of catchy hooks on par with October 31 or even Death that will have you hooked until the very end. It’s a tenacity that continues through “That Which Consumes All Things”, tearing at your soul with a dominant bass presence both in the instrument and the mix, only letting up for slower Obscura science-fiction tinged complexities in the guitars to feed in more of that chilling sci-fi style one might expect to accompany a tale of the ancient ones as penned by H.P. Lovecraft, an acknowledged influence behind this album as a whole by vocalist/guitarist Dave Davidson.

“The title is my ode to H.P. Lovecraft and the entities of pure cosmic horror that rule that universe he created. Since the new music we were writing was so evil and spacey in sections it seemed to be the right title to fit the overall vibe. But while the lyrical content is largely influenced by such writings, in every allegory there is of course some reflection of the real world, so I enjoy writing in a way that could have one overlaying meaning and then another deeper, symbolic meaning as well.”

This astral theme is an element that does show up through the release, though not as often as you would think. For the most part, The Outer Ones carries itself more like the psychological outcome of gazing upon Cthulhu himself: Starting off with horror and venturing into the realm of madness. Non better displau this than “The Outer Ones”. Scattered between the progressive Science-Fiction melodies are hefty chunks of groove-oriented death metal that slowly builds in and out of the realm of brutality and chaotic, as if contemplating the horrors witnessed and how they could possibly be a reality in a way similar to Planetary Duality by The Faceless before closing on a very zen-enducing coming to terms Meshuggah styled djent closing.

While Revocation has no problem baring its fangs at the very start, that’s not all this group brings to the table this time around. The deceptive “Blood Atonement” shows a great deal of restraint from the band, trudging along at a decent tempo that jumps from demanding obedience to allowing you safe passage to slip away into the cosmos against the softer notes and bass lines before tearing you back down to reality with a primal black metal onslaught like being torn apart by demonic claws. “Fathomless Catacombs” continues that heated ferocity, but it’s the more complex “Luciferous” and the nightmarish environment it slowly builds that speaks volumes of the band and how well they managed to weave their earlier intensity with their recent progressive evolution.

RevocationWhile The Outer Ones definitely shows a band that has evolved greatly over the years, but hasn’t forgotten their roots. The mixture of technical death metal, thrash elements, and progressive metal comes to a head one here, and it works fantastically to weave an effort event Mr. H.P. Lovecraft would approve of. With a few exceptions of songs following the same tone as the prior track, a good majority of the material presented jumps from one style or atmosphere to the next without offering a single lackluster song or moment to lose the listener. No, this is not album of the year, but it’s easily one of the groups best and most creative to date. If you’re a fan of Revocation, past or present, then this is a solid entry to their discography you’ll find yourself gravitating back to time and time again.

RevocationDigital review copy of this release provided by Metal Blade Records.