Revocation – Netherheaven
Released: September 9th 2022
David Davidson // Vocals & Guitars
Brett Bamberger // Bass & Vocals
Ash Pearson // Drums
One of the shining lights of the technical death metal scene, Revocation have been delivering their unique blending of complex, extreme metal stylings for over 15 years. Their last record, 2018’s The Outer Ones, was a brilliant ode to all things Lovecraftian. It felt like a release where Revocation had really perfected their craft; an endless stream of tremendous instrumental work within the confines of well-written, high-adrenaline music. After the longest gap between albums in their career – thanks Covid – their eighth full length Netherheaven looks to build on the artistic success of its predecessor.
Stripped back to a trio for the first time in a decade, the immensely talented Dave Davidson shoulders the entirety of the guitar work. On top of this, he’s in the producer’s chair for the first time too, with Jens Bogren lending his highly experienced ears to the mixing and mastering. And what a great job they’ve both done. While technical and progressive metal can certainly sound too polished, even fake at times, Netherheaven sounds like a real, very tight band being perfectly captured in an organic manner. It’s helped by the fact that Revocation’s core style is a little removed from the usual tech-death crowd – more like a modern coming-together of the most technical groups of the 80s thrash and early 90s death metal scenes.
Netherheaven’s explosive opener and first single ‘Diabolical Majesty’ is a perfect way to kick the album off. Trem-picked riffs and blastbeats bust the door down, before launching into a thrashing verse. A great, knotty bridge helps break up the pace and hammers the song home, with that momentum being carried over to the equally blistering following number ‘Lessons In Occult Theft’. The excellent ‘Strange and Eternal’ throws in some open-string riffs and fat grooves, and a stunning guitar lead. The track’s highlight – and one of Netherheaven’s finest and most unexpected moments – is its brilliant outro. The hypnotic wall of clean vocals over the top of a complex pulsing rhythm makes for a truly impressive passage – especially as the rest of the vocals are pretty much your classic Revocation-fare, with screams and yells leading the way.
It’s unquestionable that Revocation’s strength lies with the top-notch musicians in the group. Their rhythm section are seriously underrated – especially the drumming talents of Ash Pearson, appearing on his third Revocation release, while frontman/guitarist Davidson’s playing is top-drawer as usual. Like a lot of the music from the tech-death world, Netherheaven will require repeated spins to truly have the key moments stand out – especially on latter-album tunes ‘Godforsaken’ and the proggy ‘The Intervening Abyss of Untold Aeons”. The jazz clean break of ‘Galleries of Morbid Artistry’ breaks up the rest of the cut’s mid-paced stomp, while the stunning instrumental piece ‘The 9th Chasm’ holds down the middle of the record. Could it have worked with vocals over the top? Perhaps – but instead the band have decided to crank up the technicality a notch, and all three members get their moment to shine. The punchy ‘Recrucified’ is a powerful closer, featuring the legendary pipes of George ‘Corpsegrinder’ Fisher (Cannibal Corpse) and The Black Dahlia Murder’s late, great frontman Trevor Strnad. It’s a great, breathless way to nail the LP shut.
It’s extremely hard to fault Netherheaven – the more listens you put into it the more rewarded you will be. There’s no bones about it – this is a technical, extreme metal album. If that’s your cup of tea, then it’s impossible to think how you couldn’t be impressed with Revocation’s newest effort. If it’s not, then Netherheaven is an excellent gateway for those wishing to explore more intense and complex music. Does it top the overall brilliance The Outer Ones? Maybe just a notch below, but it’s still a great release from one of this generation’s finest extreme metal acts in the form of their career.
Revocation – Netherheaven tracklisting
- Lessons in Occult Theft
- Nihilistic Violence
- Strange and Eternal
- Galleries of Morbid Artistry
- The 9th Chasm
- The Intervening Abyss of Untold Aeons