Look at any year end Top 10 list of metal albums (including this very writer’s), and you should see one constant on those lists- and it’s not Metallica & Lou Reed’s horribly executed “Lulu” album. One album that is on the vast majority of those lists is the third album by the Boston extreme metal band Revocation, “Chaos Of Forms”. The album is a nearly 50 minute sonic lesson in all things technical death metal that is showing that the guys in Revocation are quickly becoming one of the underground metal world’s fastest rising groups.
With “Chaos of Forms”, Revocation delivers their usual brand of metal, but for the first time, they added unusual (for the metal world) instrumentation for the album, enlisting a horn section for one of the tracks. Given the diverse education that guitarist Dave Davidson received at the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston, it’s no surprise to see the band branching out and adding new elements to their metal.
After taking a bit of time off around the holiday to recharge their battery, the guys are about to get back on the road as they open for Finnish thrash stars Children of Bodom on a tour that lasts through the beginning of March. Before their tour was underway, I had a chance to Davidson and bassist Anthony Buda to discuss the new album and how they feel the band is progressing in the metal food chain.
Here’s my interview with Dave and Anthony from Revocation:
AM: Are you guys surprised at all the accolades for “Chaos Of Forms” at the end of last year?
DD: I mean, it’s always nice to see your band on those lists and for people to say those things and definitely an honor. When you look at magazines like Guitar World, and see your album getting praise- it’s shocking but an ever bigger honor.
AB: It’s nice to know that people are appreciating what you’re doing. I feel things like this help show the constant evolution of the band, but at the same time, you don’t get too full of yourself over it at the same time.
AM: How did the recording experience for “Chaos of Forms” vary from previous albums?
DD: It was different in a sense that it was the first time we stopped and started a bunch of times while recording. We had to do this because we kept getting asked to be on tours and did tours with Despised Icon and Darkest Hour and kept coming back to the album. But with all these stops and starts, it gave us more time to develop the songs- so it actually worked out fine.
AB: For us, this was the first time we were full integrated as a full time band, touring and recording. For me, it was finding that balancing between how we sound live and trying to make the album sound closer to how we sound live.
AM: In what way lyrically and musically do you see this album being different from past albums?
AB: As a metal band, you want to have fun when doing your music and bring forth that attitude, but at the same time- you want to make people think and not be overly directly. It’s better to let people internalize the things they are hearing and let people make interpret the music in their own way. It makes for an experience with more substance and depth.
DD: I think not being super direct keeps things interesting. A song like “Cretin” on paper is about this demented circus freak. But if you look deeper into the song, it’s an allegory for bullies and the torment with that, or the agony of what someone deals with a physical handicap. A song like “Conjuring the Cataclysm” talks about necromancers and zombies and things, but it just as easily discusses our band in the metal world and the subculture into itself.
AM: Is there a song in the live set that you feel challenges fans the most these days?
AB: Definitely “The Watchers”. It’s unlike we’ve done before because of the fact we have a horn section and organ section in the song that gets the most surprising reaction from fans and has been receiving pretty positive responses so far.
AM: How does your education at the Berklee School of Music influence that diversity in the music?
DD: With those songs like “The Watchers”, I think it was just the product of my environment going to school there and studying with many different people from different backgrounds. Plenty of people there just hide in one musical corner and don’t want to come outside of that zone. I focused in on all sorts of music, a smorgasbord that opened my eyes up and learned more improv stuff- which you can see on the intro to “Cataclysm”.
AB: As someone that worked with Dave before he went to Berklee, I’m here to say he’s always been the same guy and is a great player, but this knowledge makes him that much better. He knows what it takes to make a song sound good, but can still get the best technical aspect out of the song too.
AM: The band recently expanded to a quartet- where did the band find Dan Gargiulo, the band’s new guitarist and how does he fit into the grand scheme of the band?
DD: Dan’s a great player and totally came in and wowed us. We had known him through a friend of a friend and he played in a few other bands in the area. He worked out well because we didn’t have to show him how to play every song- he picked up the entire set list just by his ear and knew the songs within a couple of days.
AM: With all the touring the band does- do you feel the band is starting to get the recognition most band’s seek?
DD: It’s been a long hard road and at the shows, I think people are starting to recognize us more and more and more people are hanging out with us, so I think it’s working (laughs). Touring is key to heavy metal music, so is the word of mouth and it’s exciting to play to other crowds.
AB: We very focused on playing with a lot of different types of bands, because it helps fans get out of their own little subgenre and world and exposes them to us, and at the same time, helps us to see what those fans are like as well. It may not directly be their type of music, but they usually get and respect what we’re doing.
Revocation open for Children of Bodom at Harpo’s on Tuesday, January 31st. Tickets are $20 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com. Additional tour dates and band info can be found at http://www.relapse.com/label/artist/revocation.html.