Progression is easily one of the most bittersweet things in the music world; it can help launch a band from being unknown to the brink of pure stardom, or it can ruin everything the band has worked for and destroy the fan base it once had. I've watched bands progress in both directions: some have successfully and continually released outstanding albums, but there are others who have become the butt of every musically driven joke known to date. Fortunately for us, this next band progressed in the perfect way possible and has released a banger of an album.
Wrath of Vesuvius, formerly beginning with a "The," is a five-piece death metal band hailing from Manteca/San Jose, CA., currently signed with Mediaskare's sister label, Rite of Passage Records. The band was founded in 2007 and has since released an EP entitled A World in Peril (2009) and Portals Through Ophiuchus (2010). Since then, the band has been touring and hard at work on its third album, simply titled Revelation, which was released on July 23. After extensively listening to Portals... when it was first released, I was surprised with the album art and simple title that Wrath of Vesuvius decided to go with in terms of this release. After dropping the "The" from the band's name and releasing the album art and title, I was certain that it was definitely going to be following a different sound from previous releases. I was unsure if this new sound was going to be able to top the five/six-minute destructive death metal songs that I was used to from Portals..., but I can confirm that while Revelation went a different route, it's more than certain to live up to any standards given to it.
The 43-minute album progressed from a typical death metal standard and took it to such a high level of melodic and technical death metal. The album starts off with a three-minute instrumental opening, followed by some eerie spoken parts that really open up the next few tracks. The vocals follow the same pattern as the last two releases, but the instrumentals – oh, man...the instrumentals. They were fantastic on Portals..., but they're seriously on a whole different level when it comes to Revelation. Whether it be the opening track ("Dirge of the Valiant"), the instrumental interlude ("Sirens"), or any other track on the album, it's almost impossible to deny that guitarists Marcus Vasquez, Jeremy Larsen and Taylor Preston are beyond spectacular individuals that helped push this album – and the band in its entirety – to new heights.
Apart from the sheer technical aspect of the album, it held so many different melodic parts that aided in making the instrumentals come off as so phenomenal. While listening to the album, you'll progress through and come across different melodic parts and hear little elements in respective tracks, but it's the final three ("Sirens," "Currents" and "Grievance") – which clock up to just about 18 minutes – where you'll hear the most calming and melodic parts that this album has to offer. One of my favorite parts about this release is how Wrath of Vesuvius works in the heaviness of the death metal sound with the calming melodies and transitions through each other to go from one to the other almost seamlessly. The final track, "Grievance" – the most melodic and calming track on the entire album – also features a poem by Paul Sanchez and guest vocals performed by Thomas Vasquez, who I can only presume is related to guitarist Marcus Vasquez.
All in all, this 10-track album was definitely something different in comparison to everything else we've heard from Wrath of Vesuvius, but it's something that I can honestly say holds such a high standard in respect to melodic and technical death metal. Revelation is one of those albums that I can assure you will be missing out on if you do not pick it up immediately and spin it on a regular basis. The guitar, the vocals and the melodies are all done phenomenally and without flaw. The only minor problems I can see with this release is the sheer lack of anything devastating. There's a few parts that break out from the melodies and destroy everything with some crushing vocals, but apart from that it's just a lot of instrumental work and slow melodic parts which progress into a little bit of screaming that eventually blends back into instrumental or slow and melodic. Don't get me wrong, it's an amazing release, but if you're looking for something to blow your eardrums out with, it's not this release. Revelation can be compared to Exoplanet by The Contortionist because it's a phenomenal progressive/technical album, and it's one that you're more inclined to listen to when you're trying to relax or calm yourself down.