Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Revelation – Never Comes Silence (1992) / 91%

Baltimore & Brenner trilogy, part III: Shush!

The early 1990s weren't the perfect era for traditional doom, it was considered a sort of regressive music and it wasn't heavy enough to compete with the uprising of death metal and the groovy proto-nu metal of Pantera. Doom was also getting extreme with bands like Eyehategod so, trad doom didn't have a lot of place and was confined to the underground even though classic top notch material was released (such as Iron Man's Black Night, the Obsessed's Lunar Womb or anything Count Raven did) still bands like Cathedral made it but times were dark for the genre.

Revelation are one of those bands deserving of a better place in metal's history because of the sheer quality of their music. Despite changing the creative core of the lineup after this album, the band stayed pertinent with ...yet So Far. Never Comes Silence was then the last album under the leadership of John Brenner before the reformation in 2007 with a new lineup (the exact same dudes as Against Nature) and it's perhaps the band's finest hour (well more like 70 minutes, to be exact).

The only difference in the lineup is the presence of Josh Hart (bass) and he's as incredible but a bit more subdued than the current bassist Bert Hall Jr. Musicianship is important in doom even though it's neither complex, fast or “technical”, it's all about creating interesting atmospheres with a limited yet sufficient instrumentation. It's a trio with the usual metal or rock instruments and with their talented skills and it works fine. Brenner's solos are tremendous and very well written such as the ones in “Spectre” or “Ashes”, they're not a very heavy band even for trad doom standards but the riffs are here and they're all pretty good.

The songs are mostly long, emotional and slow. While they can speed things up, it stays morose and sad. They're definitely a precursor to the emotional side of doom metal found in bands like Warning. Revelation's lyrics are introspective and personal, something admittedly quite different from what their contemporary peers were doing and while I prefer some fancy evil or mythological subjects, it fits their music like a glove.

How thin the walls which seal my mind / How close the final episode of apathy”
What do I see in visions discreet / Futures unseen, paths not meant to be”

The progressive elements are quite subtle here, it's more in the way that songs are composed and played that they're different than their peers. It's not that obvious when you're not quite familiar with the doom genre but for me, the song structures and the type of riffs used are not owing everything to Black Sabbath like it's the case for Saint Vitus or Pentagram. Revelation plays a very smooth sort of doom and they owe a lot to Rush too. The pièce de résistance of this album is the eighteen minutes title track at the end and you can definitely hear the 70s Rush influences (think Caress of Steel) there. Nonetheless, don't make the mistake to compare it to Dream Theater's seminal classic Images and Words, released the same year as it's nowhere near the same kind of progressive metal. Revelation explores a sort of lo-fi, simple yet evocative doom.

Never Comes Silence is an underrated classic in dire need of more recognition. It's still relevant today as it was innovative for its period with the way they merged sophisticated but restrained progressive influences with a refined, sentimental yet riffy, melodic and profound approach to traditional doom metal.

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