Boston’s bastard sons of extreme metal, Revocation, are currently tearing up the road with Crowbar, Havok and Fit For an Autopsy. They are touring in support of their fifth full length studio effort, Deathless, which releases October 14 on Metal Blade Records. The band had its first germination in 2000 with the friendship of guitarist/vocalist David Davidson, drummer Phil Dubois-Coyne, and bassist Anthony Buda. They would officially become Revocation in 2006 and release their debut album, Empire of the Obscene in 2008. In 2010 a second guitarist, Dan Gargiulo was added, and in 2012 Buda left to be replaced by Brett Bamberger.
Revocation is a band that I stumbled upon when they released their free 2012 EP, Tetragenesis, and since then have slowly gained more of my attention with their 2013 self-titled release, and now, Deathless. They play a unique style of metal, experimenting with black, progressive, technical elements (and more on top of that). Recently, I got the chance to talk to Davidson who provided insight on the writing process as well as his influences and ideas put into the new record.
Your new album, Deathless, will be released next month. What can you tell us about the record?
I think it’s our best one yet. It features our best playing, songwriting, and is our most varied record. There’s definitely a thrash metal element to it but I think this time around it leans towards the death metal vibe. There’s certainly a lot of progressive and epic parts. We played around with atmosphere a lot more on it as well. I feel that we have put together 10 unique and cohesive songs together in creating this album.
You mention the death metal element coming into play, and I definitely hear that from the times I’ve listened to the album so far. Would you say that this is the progression you were going for or did outside influences play more on that?
I’d say it was natural. Every record for us is an evolution. We don’t want to put out the same record over and over again. Each album sounds like Revocation but with steps in different directions. I think since the Teratogenesis EP we’ve been steering towards a darker and heavier sound and Deathless is no different.
Would you say that you’d bring in more dominant influences into your music in later releases? e.g. more black, progressive, heavy, etc.
We listen to a lot of genres of metal and we try our best to blend it all together and make it our own sound. We try to make it feel cohesive since we play around with so many sounds. We don’t want it to sound convoluted to the listener.
I saw that you guys went with Chris “Zeuss” Harris for production of the album instead of Peter Zucho, who did your previous full lengths. How well did this all work out?
Well, Zeuss had helped us with our EP, Teratogenesis, and we really liked the sound he did for that. We figured we’d try working with him on a full length record. Nothing against Pete, he’s an awesome guy to work with, but we just figured we’d try something new with this record.
Speaking of change, you guys released a record through Relapse last year and immediately after signed to Metal Blade and had another album released the following year. Was the songwriting in the same batch as the previous or was this more of a new phase?
It was sort of both on that. I’m constantly writing and we’re not the sort of band that waits two years and then decides to write an album in a short amount of time. I never want to feel rushed like that. We’re about to put this record out and I could come up with a new riff today that I feel has some potential and save it however I can for later. Some of the riffs in the album are newer, some are older. Sometimes you’ll come up with a riff that has nothing going for it. I’ll still save it for later for when I suddenly have an idea that fits and evolves it into something more. With this process, it allows us to tweak things as we go and have like 95% of it done when we get to recording.
While I was listening to the self-titled alongside the newer album, I could immediately tell that the songwriting and musicianship was tighter and more cohesive. When it comes to the writing, how does everyone work together? Have line-up changes ever caused anything negative in this aspect?
I do the majority of the writing. I wrote eight songs on Deathless and Dan wrote two, but everyone puts their own touches and ideas as these compositions evolve. I may have ideas with guitars and the drums, but the guys will throw out what they think will work better. Overall, everyone puts in quite a bit of effort in the long run.
One track on Deathless really stood out to me, “Madness Opus”, and I read that it had a theme to it dealing with H.P. Lovecraft. It is definitely the most evil track I’ve heard from you guys. Was this just a random idea that came about?
A lot of the ideas and themes behind our albums journeys all over the place, from personal dilemmas to social issues. We’re no strangers to horror, sci-fi, and similar things as well. “Madness” Opus is based off of a short story, The Music of Erich Zann, which is about a violinist who has this portal to another dimension outside of his window. No one knows about it but him and he has to play a lullaby with his violin to keep the monster at bay or it will destroy the world. I thought this was a great premise for a death metal song, conjuring these dark elements. I really enjoyed the doomy death metal riffs giving it that astral feel. If you listen to the bridge section where it goes to the clean guitar, I envisioned this melody being the same one that Erich Zann himself played to keep the monster at bay. I never want people to think that lyrics and the music are separate and “Madness Opus”, I believe, is one of the best examples of these working together.
You save all this music while you write, have you ever thought of starting a side project with the music that may not fit in with Revocation?
Possibly, I definitely have a bunch of different material that may not work for Revocation. I wrote some music for the new Marty Friedman record; he’s a big influence on me so this was pretty awesome, and really liked the different style of metal applicated to it. I would like to do something like that, but it’s hard doing so since Revocation takes a lot of my time. I guess it would be a lot easier collaborating with other artists and not having to commit to writing a full release or touring with that project. However, if we were ever to have some downtime, I think it would be cool to release something just to keep the mind fresh. I feel that applying yourself to different styles keeps the mind fresh and that is especially helpful with Revocation.
You said that Marty Friedman was a big influence on you. How big of an influence was he on your playing and who else do you consider your main influences?
When I wrote the song for Marty’s record, it was a big honor. He’s easily in my top three lead guitar players who’s influenced my playing over the years. When I got the email, it was pretty awesome and felt very validating that someone who influenced me over the years recognized my talents. I remember looking through the Rust In Peace tablature books learning all the solos and everything. My other big influences would have to be Luc Lemay from Gorguts, Daniel Mongrain from Martyr, Jeff Waters from Annihilator, and there have been so many more that have really influenced me. Joe Perry, Aerosmith, was the whole reason I started playing guitar and Slash got me into the more technical aspect. Dimebag was the one guitar player that got me to start playing metal. I can say I have a lot of individuals I look up to and can definitely be seen in the music I write and play.
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