Thursday, December 10, 2009

All Is Revealed

REVELATION – “For The Sake Of No One” CD ’09 (Shadow Kingdom, US) – There go John Brenner, Bert Hall & Steve Branagan again, fucking me up. I was just sitting in front of the fire during the season’s first snow, beginning my annual task of whittling 2009 into a fine piece of wood that will eventually share my year’s best when I heard that sound. It’s the sound of a parcel being dropped into the mailbox outside and the deep, resonant tone tells me I’m going to see the initials “J.B.” at the top of the return address. But let’s hold on a minute, because there’s an even odder tangent to this story.

Earlier that day, 2 things happened that cast an eerie aura over that day’s mail delivery. Fist, in the morning when I’d gotten up to dress, I reached in the drawer to pull out a t-shirt and what I’d grabbed ended up being one of the REVELATION persuasion. Poised a moment over a drawer containing maybe 50 shirts, I hesitated then exchanged that one for a Phillies “t,” thinking somewhat weirdly (but again, that’s me) “I need to pick up the new REVELATION before I have the nerve to throw that shirt on.” A few hours later, when engaged in a sports conversation with 2 of my boys, the subject came up about the time an NFL commentator stopped an entire halftime show by using the word “promontory.” Seemed none of the other jocks had ever heard that one before. And, to be honest, I hadn’t heard it in awhile either. However, I “heard” it for the 2nd time in that one day when I opened the mailbox and found in it the new REVELATION CD, sent to me by John Brenner and sporting a song called “On A Promontory”!

But ok, all of these tie-ins aside, what have this dynamic trio offered us this time around? Well, it’s necessary to point out that Mr.’s Brenner, Hall & Branagan are in fact TWO bands, REVELATION and AGAINST NATURE. When they take up their A.N. mantle, the slant is toward more progressive and experimental music and REVELATION sees them forge the path of doom metal. That’s not to say, however, that AGAINST NATURE doesn’t include some heavier moments nor that experimentation is a taboo word in REVELATION. It’s that flowing dichotomy that makes these 3 musicians so special.

“For The Sake Of No One” opens with “A Matter Of Days,” a number that immediately draws 2 points to the fore that often get lost in reviews and those are John Brenner’s ever-increasing vocal prowess and poetic lyrics. I’ve personally witnessed John flower as a singer over the years and his emotional mid-range is haunting here, commanding lines like “…A brick gazebo in the rain, a conversation in the midst of machines, Ice thick on the reservoir….” This is all borne on a crushingly slow rhythm that seems to nearly halt at the top of a precipice, then tumble over into a mid-paced groove, accelerating incisively into the up-tempo coda. “Offset” follows, a stately procession over 7 minutes. Then comes “Canyons,” once again beginning slowly. The nasty, cutting tone of the guitar solo around the 5:00 mark belies it’s heart-wrenching melodies. The coda is Vitus-like in it’s insistence yet mellow in it’s tenor as this 9-minute epic draws to a close.

Around the album’s mid-point, “On A Promontory” takes flight on an absolutely kick-ass mid-paced riff. REVELATION is really motoring here, with Bert and Steve locking into a massive groove. Truly, Hall & Branagan may be the most organic-sounding rhythm section working in rock music today. Over top their thunder, Brenner lays down some brain scalding wah-wah leads that’ll call your mother names and then stomp your ass for you if you need it done. Holy shit, this sounds like Poobah meets Sabbath! “The Whisper Stream” sees the band dial up the melody once more, in a subtle and thoughtful mid-pace before a barnburner of a Crimson-like middle section crashes in. The rhythm here is just sick and the leads hurt! Somebody get me a doctor, baby!

The album then ends with an especially strong pairing, “Vigil” and the title cut. The former, stretching nearly 9 minutes, employs one of the best rhythm changes NOT authored by Tony Iommi just before the 3:00 mark. The latter sees the band once again effortlessly fuse philosophical doom with timeless melody and a pensive guitar solo that reinforces Mr. Brenner as the tone-master he’s become of recent years. Beyond anything simply called “metal,” REVELATION weave a tapestry so rich and colourful as to know neither bounds nor specific genre. Guess I’ll wear that t-shirt tomorrow. For The Sake Of Those Who Like Great Shit


Skeletor said...

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed the cd! It's amazing and gratifying that people take time out of their lives to listen to what we do! THanks again!--Bert

raysrealm said...

Thanks for the great music, Bert. You guys continually amaze me with it.