Released: 2016, Metal Blade Records
Reviewer: Peter Atkinson
There are few more dependable, forward-thinking bands than Boston-based tech-death/thrash metallers Revocation. Every 18 months or so, like clockwork, the band have new material ready that is just as good as, if not better, and certainly different than what came before it. So just when you start getting used to, and comfortable with, the band as they were, they've already taken the next step and moved on.
Great Is Our Sin is the quartet's sixth album in eight years, to go along with a couple of EPs, and marks the debut of Ash Pearson – ex of 3 Inches of Blood - who seamlessly replaces drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne and leaves guitarist/frontman Dave Davidson as the lone remaining original member. Yet it ups the ante of 2014's Deathless with tighter, more focused, yet still very diverse and challenging songs that pack that much more wallop while at the same time retaining the technical finesse that has become the band's forte.
It's no easy task pulling that off, but given the way Revocation grow from release to release, they make it seem effortless. It's not so much a matter of them trying to get better, they just are. Thus twisty-turny tracks like “Crumbling Imperium” or “Profanum Vulgus” manage to be inviting, even catchy despite their complexity and progressive flair thanks to the crunching riffs and swaggering rhythms that weave in and out – something Megadeth were so good at during the Rust In Peace era.
By the same token, snub-nosed thrashers like “Arbiters of the Apocalypse,” “Copernican Heresy” and “Communion” offer plenty of pizzazz of their own via Davidson and Dan Gargiulo's fleet-fingered licks and solos, which impress throughout as always, without ever really seeming showy. This is one band that easily could make a spectacle out of themselves - Davidson, for one, is a Berklee School of Music grad – but chose substance over flash. Indeed, the money-shot solo on the instrumental “The Exaltation” is from ex-Megadeth axe-man Marty Friedman – who returns a favor after Davidson played and sang on his last solo album.
The only song here that isn't a top-to-bottom winner it is the lumbering closer “Cleaving Giants of Ice” that stumbles over a couple stretches of clean harmonies that seem awkward and unnecessary and an unwieldy construction that never quite gels like the rest of the tunes. It makes for an unfortunately clumsy end to an otherwise magnificent album - though the CD apparently tacks on a ripping cover of Slayer's "Altar of Sacrifice." But no one's perfect, although these guys seem to get closer each time out.