Sound — 9
Even though you may know what you want to do from the start, the first manifestation of that idea may not be ideal: case in point, Revocation. Originally formed as Cryptic Warning, they started as a thrash metal band inspired by the classics like Pantera, Megadeth and Guns N' Roses, but after releasing their debut album, "Sanity's Aberration," the band felt unsatisfied with what they've done thus far and how they were doing it, and would reconfigure themselves as Revocation. Then, like truly cracking the seal open, the band would proceed at a sprinting pace, releasing four albums in the span of five years. Though the prolific nature of Revocation was impressive enough, the quality wasn't compromised either, with their second and third albums, "Existence Is Futile" and "Chaos of Forms," earning critical acclaim for being both instrumentally adept and distinct, as well as proving that the band didn't just have a couple calling cards, they had an entire deck.
Even in spite of their albums being composed so close to one another in time, Revocation have been able to separate each one musically by entertaining different nuances to their albums under the umbrella of extreme metal. "Chaos of Forms" was highly evocative of the classic thrash metal days, "Revocation" harped a lot on menacing blackened death metal elements, and now, with their fifth album, "Deathless," Revocation start traveling back to the strong melodic death metal, primarily heard in "A Debt Owed to the Grave," "Deathless," the chock-fulla-blastbeat "The Blackest Reaches," the arduously-galloping "The Fix," and the two-solos-in-one closer "Witch Trials"; though the technical death metal side of theirs is still alive and well in "Labyrinth of Eyes," "Scorched Earth Policy," and "United in Helotry." But the most interesting tracks by far are the ones that take their time to stitch several subgenres together seamlessly: "Madness Opus" travels from tight-formed groove metal to stampeding chugs to ominous doom riffs to tapping tech riffage, and the instrumental "Apex" shows a substantial upgrade from its ancestor track "Spastic" off of "Revocation" by wrapping up thrash, death metal, and mathcore into a captivating, multi-dimensional prog metal jam. And whereas "Revocation" seemed to treat the guitar solos as an afterthought - more along the lines of tiding the listener over rather than shooting for the top - "Deathless" puts a proper spotlight back on the solos, and the bona fide face-melting guitar-work makes a comeback most notably in "The Fix," "Apex," "United in Helotry" and "Madness Opus."
Lyrics — 8
With the subject matter of Revocation's lyrics starting out chock full of morbid narratives like any other death metal band, they've always shown an interest in political criticism. Though they went whole-hog on that area in their previous album, "Revocation," they still manage to put forth some good post-modern/political material in "Deathless." "Scorched Earth Policy" paints a foretelling of the classic "the machines are taking over!" story; "The Fix" alludes to the elite conspiring with each other to cause global war and turmoil for profit, and is quickly followed by the complementing "United Helotry," which paints the non-elite majority of the population as slaves unaware and apathetic of their overbearing subjugation; and "Labyrinth of Eyes" is an allegory for the surveillance state of the USA (most definitely inspired by the Snowden leaks), but the choice to analogize it with a fantasy-based aesthetic works well, especially considering that a good amount of "Deathless" invests in the dark and occult subject matter again. Though the Salem Witch Trials narrative in "Witch Trials," the dour telling of universal fate in "A Debt Owed to the Grave," and the legion of beings that transcend the natural lifespan in "Deathless" are topics that have been done to death (no pun intended), "Madness Opus" has a standout set of lyrics; depicting the main character being drawn to an otherworldly portal with the intention of fighting whatever is on the other side, but when he travels it, he finds the beast being entertained by a demonic concert that's hauntingly good to the point where the main character can't get enough.
Overall Impression — 9
With them setting a high bar for themselves so early on in their career, you almost don't want to jinx things by asking how Revocation keep hitting home runs with each album they make. Maybe they're musical prodigies from another planet, or maybe they're channeling ancient spirits while making their music, but regardless, they're still in overdrive and show no signs of slowing down. By still being able to distinguish the new album from their other exceptional albums with nuances in style, "Deathless" once again makes listening to Revocation's top-notch instrumental talent as exciting and interesting as the first time you've ever listened to the band. In a way, you could say the band has plateaued, but when you're on top of your game like Revocation are, staying at a constant on the apex is more than acceptable; it's awe-inspiring.