Musicscan: First of all: everyone is always speaking about the so-called difficult third album of a band. How did you experience creating your second third album?
Revocation: The experience was really positive. Since this is our sixth full length I have a very good idea of what I need to prepare for so that there are no surprises. We all make sure that we come in very well rehearsed for the recording session so that we can deliver the best takes possible and not have to worry about working out parts last minute in the studio. Of course there will always been certain tweaks made here and there but we tend to go in with 95% of the material worked out beforehand which allows us to be really focused on our playing.
Musicscan: Has it been harder to come up with new ideas and songs, now that you are around for so long already? Or was it easier due to experience and knowledge of the Revocation trademarks?
Revocation: I think it’s a little of both. We’re definitely not short on ideas but we also have a pretty large body of work now so we all want to make sure that we’re not being redundant in our approach. For me the new album is our most exciting work to date because we’ve already established our sound so now it’s just a matter of refining it and pushing our boundaries.
Musicscan: In retrospect: would it be fair to say that you found a new identity -or at least musical quality- with Deathless? What were your goals for the successor, and were they reached, or perhaps altered along the way if you listen to Great Is Our Sin now?
Revocation: We try to reinvent ourselves a little bit on every release but in terms of fan response “Deathless” was our most successful record to date so of course you want to try to make the next one even better. We don’t really set out with a specific goal other than wanting to write songs that inspire us collectively. Listening back to the record now I think we’ve achieved that goal, I think “Great Is Our Sin” is going to be the defining record of our career.
Musicscan: Personally I sometimes think that Revocation is in some ways about musical education of listeners. What do you think about this impression? Is this something you are heading for? I mean on the one hand there is a songwriting based on gut instinct, but on the other hand there is a lot of substance, depth and complexity - although it is not always obvious...
Revocation: I don’t think you have to be a musician or understand music theory to like our band but there is a lot of substance and technicality to the music so it doesn’t surprise me that we have many fans who are musicians themselves. Speaking from my own experience I would often try to learn and analyze many of my favorite riffs and solos so that I could gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the music. At the same time it’s nice to turn the musician part of my brain off and just listen and feel the music on a purely emotional level.
Musicscan: For some time now the harder music scene seems to go even more extreme than ever before. Bands are pushing the boundaries as far as complexity, technical approach and extreme arrangements are concerned. What are your thoughts on this and where do you see Revocation in the grand scheme?
Revocation: Metal has always been about going against the grain so it’s no surprise to me that bands are continually pushing themselves to be more technical and extreme. I think it’s important to remember that technique is only one part of the equation and you have to see the bigger picture of the song as a whole. If the riffs are super complex but don’t have a flow and there’s no thought given to motivic development then I don’t think the music will be as impactful. We try to keep this in mind when we’re writing so that we’re not just piecing a series of technical riffs together but rather, focusing on composing in a more thoughtful way.
Musicscan: What exactly does Revocation sound like from your point of view? Is it any kind of departure to what people might expect from you if you think of reviews and fan reaction. Do you feel “understood” to say so?
Revocation: I would say that we are a progressive death/thrash band. On any given song each one of those elements may be more upfront or lurking more in the background but overall that seems to be the most accurate description if I’m trying to sum up our sound in the most succinct way.
Musicscan: Looking on extreme metal in general you can find lots of sub-scenes and styles, the metal underground is changing all the time. Are there bands you feel connected with that might have a similar agenda to what you have with Revocation? What are you heading for in general?
Revocation: We feel connected to a lot of bands in the underground scene, we’re all very much entrenched in it and always finding inspiration from other bands that are doing their thing. In the thrash realm we feel a kinship with bands like Voivod and Vektor while bands like Gorguts and Martyr have been very influential to us on the progressive death metal spectrum. Of course there are many others but each one of those bands really pushes the boundaries of the genre which is something that I appreciate greatly.
Musicscan: It is somehow quite impossible to describe your style of playing in a few sentences. You definitely mix up different extreme styles with progressive and technical stuff, and a lot more – like melodies and catchy hooklines. It´s quite interesting to think about the influences of your band. There have to be quite a lot. What influences are we talking about? Do these vary within the band, and how did they change over time?
Revocation: Our influences vary from member to member but speaking for myself I can say that outside of metal I’m very influenced by classical and jazz. I studied jazz in college and when I’m home I try to devote a lot of my practice time to working on different jazz tunes and solo transcriptions for inspiration.
Musicscan: You surely remember when you wrote your first song for/with Revocation and what it felt like and know how it feels like now when you finish a song. How has your relationship to the music and your songs changed/develop over time?
Revocation: I have a better idea of what I want to achieve as a songwriter and musician now that I’ve had so much practice composing. When I was first starting out I was writing a ton of riffs constantly and some of the songs on our first record were quite lengthy so over time I’ve learned to critique myself and edit my ideas to better suit the flow of the song.
Musicscan: How do you guys make sure to develop as musicians and songwriters? Is there something you do on a constant base beside going to the rehearsal room and practicing at home? And do you still have to deal with limitations when it comes to the songwriting or are you in a position to realize all the ideas you have?
Revocation: For me it’s all about having a diverse taste in music so that I can draw on other elements outside of the metal realm. I’ve been working on saxophone transcriptions a lot recently and that has really helped me think about phrasing in a different way since those lines aren’t meant to be played on guitar. There are of course going to be some limitations since we are playing death/thrash at our core so we can’t go too off the rails otherwise our sound would run the risk of sounding convoluted but we certainly try to bring new ideas to the table to broaden our sound with each release.
Musicscan: What sort of evolution has the band gone through into Great Is Our Sin? I feel a coherent and in “one-style” sounding on the one and a damn good dramaturgy and diverse aggression on the other hand …
Revocation: It’s been a natural evolution for us. We don’t try to force anything, we just try to write music that we want to hear at this particular point in our careers.
Musicscan: Right at the moment I like to think that the new album shows an even more atmospheric and emotional side of Revocation beside it is heavy and technical of course. But very universal heavy music can be discovered on your new album. How do you feel about this short description?
Revocation: I would say it’s an accurate description.
Musicscan: Did all of you guys have had an equal vision about how the new album should sound like right from the beginning of the working process? What stands out in your mind about the chemistry of the band during the writing and recording? How did this contribute to the overall sound and feel of Great Is Our Sin?
Revocation: Yeah we were all very much on the same page going into the writing process which made things run smoothy. What stands out in my mind the most is the immediate chemistry that Ash and I had when working on the material. Bringing in a new drummer to the fold was a big deal for us but once we started jamming things clicked right away and any anxiety about the writing process was totally lifted.
Musicscan: Revocation consists of well-skilled musicians with lots of crazy ideas: but do you sometimes have to prevent yourselves from getting too technical to stay memorable? It’s obvious, that it is an important thing for you to write songs with a good dramaturgy and contrasts…
Revocation: Yes you have to be able to edit your ideas to make sure the song flows, otherwise it just sounds like a collection of riffs rather than a solid composition. There were a couple riffs that I really dug that ultimately ended up getting trashed because they did’t fit with the overall flow of the song. It can be hard to let go of your ideas sometimes especially if you’re passionate about them but ultimately it was for the good of the composition.
Musicscan: As far as lyrical themes go, could you give us a little insight into it, please. Is there an underlying idea behind the album that can stand for the record as a whole?
Revocation: The underlying concept is the folly of man throughout history. Lyrical themes deal with corruption in politics, religion and the greed driven expansion of empires that inevitably leads to their collapse.
Musicscan: Lastly: what do you want people to take away from Great Is Our Sin?
Revocation: For me there is no specific take away form the record, people can enjoy it purely from a musical standpoint or experience the entire album with the lyrical and artistic themes that make up the work as a whole. To me the beauty of music is all the different interpretations that people can have, I think that’s what keeps music fans coming back for more.