Tilled from the most fertile soil in the US for growing traditional doom — namely the Maryland/D.C. scene that birthed Pentagram, Wretched, The Obsessed, Iron Man, Unorthodox, Wino‘s bands, Earthride and countless others — Baltimore‘s Revelation began issuing demos in 1987 and put out three full-lengths before disbanding following …Yet So Far in 1995. A 2003 reissue of 1996′s Frozen Masque demo showed there was still interest and 2007′s Paleontology collection of early works provided a tape-hissy bugle announcing Revelation‘s return to active status.
After having the shovel strength to unearth Stone Garden and put out Pale Divine‘s much-storied first release, Crimson Tears, the up and coming Shadow Kingdom Records digs its heels into the underground to license Release, Revelation‘s first new full-length in 14 years.
And they came up with a meisterwerk of true American doom.
Release is slow, guitar-led and sad. Very, very sad. If the title is meant to imply that the feelings occuring throughout the album’s 55-minute run time have been building for a given amount of time and that the record is in fact the release of said emotions — that’s the way I took it, anyway — then that release is more of an oozing than a burst. Being a doom head in general and a sucker for this kind of metallic misery, I went right to “Anatomy of Melancholy,” the longest song of the bunch at 8:51, and found it to be exactly as advertised; as though Revelation had sat for weeks with Bunsen burners and test-tubes, distilling doom to its most potent form.
A heaviness matched sonically by the sheer weight of the emotions at play, that on Release is as plodding in conception as the music is gorgeous to the ear. Guitarist/vocalist John Brenner leads the trio as bassist Bert Hall and drummer Steve Branagan provide a deceptively intricate undercurrent for the riffs, as on “Wither,” where the guitar fuzz and vocal tones of the verses sound like something you’d hear on Delmar by Natas (more likely coincidence than influence, though it goes to show how closely related stoner rock and doom are) and it’s Hall‘s running basslines that bring a contemplative edge to the song’s midsection. Not at all showy, the smooth-sounding warmth comes through as clearly on the title track as anywhere else. Whether Hall wrote these lines or not, I don’t know — songwriting credits are attributed to all three in the liner notes, so probably — but either way, he certainly makes each of them his own and brings more to Release than most bassists in this genre can claim in their careers.
Also operational (and far more prolific) under the moniker Against Nature, this three-piece is definitely a welcome re-addition to the pastiche of the MD doom scene. Glad to have them back; let’s hope for some back catalog reissues next.
Tags: Maryland, Revelation, Shadow Kingdom