I’ve been banging on and on about Revocation (see here and here). Judging from Existence Is Futile (Relapse, 2009), I’ll do so for a while. The band — guitarist/vocalist David Davidson, really — appeals to that disproportionately large part of my consciousness marked “shredding.” He comes from the Skolnick/Friedman school of leads where speed is a given, and the focus is on tone and phrasing. Davidson’s tone is sweet, and his phrasing is bold. He bends, he flies, he digs hard and low. A knee-jerk reaction by some is that Revocation is just another modern technical band. But Revocation is hardly Brain Drill or Necrophagist. The band puts space between notes and writes actual riffs and songs. These are not endless streams of technicality. Davidson has a lot to say; he just says it quickly.
This also holds true lyrically. Davidson and bassist Anthony Buda take on timely topics — nuclear winter, science gone amok, hell on earth. Revocation comes from the lineage of late-’80 “techno thrash,” but adds the death metal and modern production that came afterwards. Davidson’s vocals suggest a higher-pitched John Tardy. They’re solid but one-dimensional next to his guitar-slinging. Structurally, this one-guitar band recalls Pantera, though Davidson has to take on both Dimebag Darrell’s and Phil Anselmo’s roles. Perhaps the band would be better off with a stand-alone vocalist. Half the fun of Revocation, though, is watching Davidson sing over jaw-dropping fretwork — shades of Dave Mustaine.
The big surprise here is how complete Revocation is. I don’t get that embarrassed feeling I get from enjoying self-indulgent shred records. Davidson’s guitar is front and center, but his bandmates shred also. The vocals aren’t just place holders. They actually say something. “I can hear the sirens / Screaming from the sky / What will it take for me to sleep through the fucking night? / For now it is over / But how long will it last?” is much more relevant than the latest Slayer screed about how angry Kerry King is. The music is, too. Kids may very well learn these riffs — or at least try to do so — and upload the results onto YouTube. Then the bar would be raised even higher, which is hard to imagine after hearing Existence Is Futile.
To hear the first demo of Revocation’s previous incarnation as Cryptic Warning, go here.