The modern metal critic’s dilemma: how many times can a reader read “this is a good/great record by a good/great band” before they are no longer served by reviews? You have to have some negative standard, but most of mine are so dated as to be effectively pointless. And the fact is almost every modern metal record I hear is really good. Damn this current glut of decent bands to hell.
My premium standards at the moment are Nile, Gorguts, Cattle Decapitation, and Wormed as far as working modern death metal acts are concerned. A band would have to go to some pretty amazing places to hit those levels. It is great when it happens, it just almost never does.
BUT! Many, many DM bands come close. Deceptionist, Murder Made God, and Revocation are examples so close to that top tier it almost feels stupid to deny them. So what gives? Why not just let them occupy my rarefied air?
It is a tiny, but important thing. Each of my top tier acts above made me rethink what was possible in a death metal band, and have consistently challenged me, either with each album, as with Gorguts, or with their continuing catalog, as with Nile. They expanded my expectations. Revocation is a superb band, and has made an exciting record with Great Is Our Sin. But they have not made me rethink or expand anything. They just crushed my neck.
They are a veteran technical/melodic death metal band, with occasional hints of old Darkane and Opeth seeping through the seams. And they have made a great record; one which is lifted above simple “good”ness by the band’s ability to move from straight forward melodic death to brutal progressive metal and back without losing any momentum or fury. At every point the band pummels, whether with virtuosity or ferocity, and you never feel like they are trapped in either mode.
In fact, they are a perfect example of where niche labels fail us. They’re not either/or, or even both. They go where they want, do what they want and deliver powerful, consistent songs. Opening track “Arbiters of the Apocalypse” foregoes any rev-up and gallops directly into the lyric, adding gravel voiced melodic chorales, and only slowing down long enough to establish the changeup riff and solo. “Theatre of Horror” likewise pummels from go, and displays the tight technical riffing and fingering that gives the guitar playing depth.
“Profanum Vulgus” channels the best of Opeth in its melancholic-harmony-vocal-filled central passage and minor key chorus; the effect fits the esthetic of the album. The band uses the harmony vocals sparingly, and creates a more substantial death metal sound for it. The album closer, “Cleaving Giants of Ice,” is a fitting and sometimes even beautiful finale, especially because of the dark grooving riff that leads us into the final solo and exits us from the album.
Each player’s performance is suitably strong. Vocalist/Lead Guitarist David Davidson, and guitarist Dan Gargiulo keep the riffs lively, and the solos are particularly musical and strong. Bassist Brett Bamberger and drummer Ash Pearson form a massive backline with the right amount of ostentation for this type of record. The sound is perfectly captured by Zeuss.
So there is absolutely nothing wrong with this record. It kills it, from start to finish. It is also a perfect example of the state of the art in modern metal. It uses what motifs it wants, makes them work and delivers quality as a result.
Again, I can’t fault a band for not being boundary pushing enough, and again I realize I have not been giving any negative reviews lately, which may make it seem like I am cherry picking or something. But, again again, the fact is metal bands seem to have honed their art and ejected most of the negative aspects. How can I fault them for this? Revocation’s Great Is Our Sin is a standaout example of what metal is. I will support them for it.