Revocation at The DomeSupport: Creeping Death| Alluvial | Goatwhore
February 12, 2023 at The Dome
Promoter: Born Again Concerts
“I wanna see the biggest fucking circle pit,” commands Revocation frontman David Davidson on at least two occasions during his band’s intense hour-long set, describing a roundabout in the air with an index finger; “back to front, left to right!” It’s a common wish in metal, of course, and could have come from any band tonight. But it’s still pretty great when all bands on the bill scarcely need to whip up a pit because it’s already going off. And on a Sunday night no less.
I missed the Texan openers Creeping Death, but they’d clearly got the crowd moving by the time Alluvial hit the stage. Alluvial play the kind of detuned, slam-chuggery that I rarely put on at home but goes down a treat live. Despite song titles like ‘Ulysses’ and ‘Gabrielle’ referencing mythology, the tone of Alluvial’s on-stage banter indicates they aren’t hear to make you think – “Who’s drinking tonight?”, “This one’s about getting fucked up and then getting fucked up again” – but when your thrash-death is this tight, who cares? Damn, those groove riffs are sure big and sure get your body moving, nicely coloured by diverse solos comprising blistering runs, alternating chromatics and pentatonics. For me, the highlight of Alluvial’s set is a change of pace with slower, palette cleanser ‘Sleepers Become Giants’ from their latest album Sarcoma. Following a brief clean, finger-picked intro, the riffs re-enter in staccato djent mode; the bass tapping is tasteful rather than arrogant; and the crazy-intricate pinch harmonics complement rather than complicate.
It’s the first time I’ve returned to The Dome since the Pandemic and it has to be said that the sound isn’t great in here tonight unfortunately: we’re losing some of the nuance in the guitar riffs. This goes for all the bands, especially Revocation who sound a little less technical, more straightforward brutality, as a result.
But by the time we get to Goatwhore this hardly matters. This tour hasn’t been billed as a dual headliner, but that’s how it feels. The Dome is just as nuts for Goatwhore as they are for Revocation. “Feel free to move around,” suggests Ben; “we’ve all had our shots right?” Fortunately the vaccination jokes are kept to a minimum: “He hasn’t,” quips Ben, pointing at their guitarist, “so stay clear!”
Ben has the kind of commanding stage presence that dominates the stage, while the pit swirls and the crowd surges towards him. You can pull out the influences on Goatwhore’s sound and isolate the sub-genres if you want, but there’s something classic about them, despite the extremity. Ben didn’t say: “we’re Goatwhore and we play heavy metal,” but he could have done. Every metal style is in the brew, but we drink it all down smooth. Most tracks are from new album Angels Hung from the Arches of Heaven, as far as I can gauge, including the title track and absolute banger ‘Death from Above’. It’s during the latter that an intrepid stage invader is robustly dragged off, but Ben seems utterly unconcerned (he’s got those giant gauntlets after all). When things get silent between songs, Ben tries a good one, pointing at the pit circle, still being eagerly maintained: “Everyone on the inside swap with everyone on the outside!” Hah, that’ll never work; and it doesn’t, but the venue could boot us out now and I think we’d have been happy, such is the headlining quality of Goatwhore’s performance.
Folks seemed less concerned with high-fiving David than they were with Ben, but there’s scarcely time to dwell on this or anything else during Revocation’s set.
On new album Netherheaven, Revocation have definitely moved away from the Cosmic Horror of The Outer Gods, returning to tried and tested Satanic themes, as evidenced by their use of The Omen theme as their entrance music. “Pure riffs!” observes the guy next to me, and I know what he means. Although there is a lot of soloing in Revocation’s sound, too – am I allowed to say too much? – with David needing no excuse to rip into one of his effortlessly-precise, virtuoso shred-fests, complete with dive bombs, sweep picking, and two-hand tapping.
Revocation’s performance is defined by precision. They are just so tight, rarely peeking down at the fret board, with the millisecond silences between riffs so sharply defined. It showcases their brutal yet intricate sound perfectly. Did I mention they’re a just three piece? So there’s space on-stage for some theatrics as the Devil themselves appears, for an entirely unscripted appearance; prowling the stage in red tights and plastic horns, they look more like something from an episode of beloved British sitcom Bottom than some nether realm, but no one here seems adverse to lightening the mood on occasion (or are too busy moshing to notice). Metal loves to overuse the “Your mother sucks cocks in hell” sample from The Exorcist (think of poor old Marduk, guys), and Revocation use it to introduce ‘9th Chasm’, but we’ll let them off. The pit really peaks here, yet I’m left with the arresting and ironic image of one kind soul brandishing a lost Fit Bit in the air, while everyone swirls haphazardly around them. Evil incarnate, indeed.
Revocation’s set sticks largely to Netherheaven, with a couple from The Outer Ones (the title track, ‘Of Unwordly Origin’, ‘That Which Consumes All Things’), and a smattering of earlier numbers (‘Madness Opus’, ‘Communion’) and finishes with super-technical ‘Dismantle the Dictator’. Everything about Revocation is delivered with a phenomenal precision and passion, which – especially with such a strong tour package behind them – places them amongst the finest names in progressive and technical death metal.