For 16 years REVOCATION have been crafting a mind-blogging blend of technical death metal. With heavy influences from thrash and death metal, REOVCATION‘s sound has made them a firm player in the modern metal scene. Now, 16 years after their formation the band are back with album number six, Great Is Our Sin. We caught up with guitarist and vocalist David Davidson to lift the lid about the record; it’s influences, theme, messages and style. We also discuss the state of the technical death metal scene today and assess how the band has evolved over time.
Your music has been described as a fusion of technical death metal and thrash, yet you all bring influences from outside the metal realm. What influences were brought forward for this album?
David: I think the death metal influence is really at the forefront on this record but there is also a strong prog influence as well. Personally, I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz when I’ve been home so I think certain elements of that sound have crept into my solo phrasing here and there.
What was your aim for this album, in terms of both the audience and yourselves as a band?
David: Our goal is always the same with every release, maintain the core elements of our sound while at the same time building upon those elements and expanding our boundaries. We tend not to really think about the audience much when we’re writing, I think that’s why our fans respect the band and our music. We’re not trying to pander to anyone or fit in to a certain popular scene, we just like to make music for ourselves first and foremost.
You build upon each release and with this, your sixth album, appear to have solidified the sound of REVOCATION. Would you say since the release of Deathless, there has been a change in the band’s direction to achieve this sound?
David: I don’t know if it’s been a conscious decision, I think it’s just part of the natural organic evolution of the band. Part of it is having more confidence in our abilities as songwriters and performers I suppose. We’ve toured a lot over the last few years so we’ve really gotten to hone our skills in a lot of different settings so that seems to fuel the fire. As a vocalist I know that I’ve been developing over time and now I tend to sing in more of a heavier death metal range than I used to. I think that’s partly because we’ve toured with so really brutal death metal bands over the years and I guess subconsciously I’ve tried to emulate those vocals more since I grew up listening to that style along with a heavy dose of thrash. I think it’s cool when vocalists develop and change over time. Take a band like DEATH for example, Chuck’s voice changed a lot over the years and each vocal style brought something new to the music.
If any, were there any differences in the writing process between Deathless and Great is our Sin that aided in this solidified sound?
David: Not really the writing process is always pretty much the same from album to album. We never do anything too wildly different, I think we just get better at writing and organizing our ideas in general since we’ve had quite a lot of practice writing songs after 6 records (laughs).
Having all members spread across North America, what effect did this have on the writing and recording process?
David: It presented some challenges at first but we quickly adapted to them after figuring out how to plan for future rehearsals. Basically Ash [Pearson, drums] would fly into Boston to rehearse with me for a few days and whenever there were parts that required extra work he would film himself playing through the part slow or film me playing the riff on my own so he could go back and work on it on his on time. Ash is an excellent drummer and is very dedicated so thankfully I never had to worry about him not getting the parts together. We would also have several Skype sessions where I would play him some riffs and we’d play air drums back and forth to one another to wrap our heads around the different sections.
The lyrical concepts behind the album are powerfully eye opening about the matters of the world, how do you gather inspiration for your writing on a topic so large?
David: I stay pretty up to date with current affairs and I’m also interested in history so for this album I drew inspiration from a long timeline of humanities failures and follies. Writing lyrics is a bit of a cathartic experience for me and looking at the world today there is definitely no shortage of topics to write about.
Your penmanship shows your passion for issues that are still around today, what would you say is a particular theme you are drawn to and why?
David: One theme that I’m drawn to is corruption and greed. I feel like man’s desire for power at any cost has been a bane upon humanity since the beginning of history.
The title of the album, Great Is Our Sin, is an adaptation of a Charles Darwin’s quote. It’s interesting to have a man best known for his work within evolution and biological change, parallel to themes such as climate change, that in the present day, attitudes are far from evolved. What was the significance of the Darwin quote, and how has Darwin influenced the album’s content?
David: The full Darwin quote reads, “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our own institutions, great is our sin.” That quote had a profound impact on me and it inspired me to take a look back at the sins of man throughout history leading up to present day. I thought the ending of that quote would make for a thought provoking album title and I decided to mold an entire album concept based around the idea of Great Is Our Sin and what that meant for the world we live in today.
Since the release of Deathless in 2014, REVOCATION saw the departure of Phil Dubois-Coyne and the arrival of new drummer Ash Pearson. What made Ash stand out as a musician?
David: For one, he’s incredibly tight and consistent live, that’s really important when you tour as often as we do since there can be many curveballs thrown your way depending on a variety of factors. He’s also got a great over feel, when we jam the tunes with him everything just sits right in the pocket so we all feel very comfortable with him behind the kit.
How has he impacted the progression of the band’s sound?
David: He brings a lot to the band stylistically and has a variety of influences he can draw from. He hits hard and can deliver some truly blistering fills but he also can bring in some other elements to our sound that help with the overall atmosphere of certain parts. He’s a big fan of RUSH and FRANK ZAPPA and I think you can hear those prog/fusion influences in his playing which is great because our music is very diverse so we need someone who’s not just a one trick pony.
Over the years, you’ve made your mark within the technical death metal scene; from your first release of Summon the Spawn in 2006 to this album, you’ve pushed the boundaries of the genre. How do you feel the technical death metal scene has evolved over the years alongside you?
David: I love where the scene is headed, there are a lot of really talented bands that push the envelope with every release. I just saw WORMED play live at Maryland Death Fest and they absolutely blew me away. The riffs are so unique and the drumming is absolutely ferocious, it’s great to see bands that are forging their own path and still have fresh ideas to bring to the table in 2016.
Great Is Our Sin is set for release on July 22nd via Metal Blade Records.
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