The first ten years of releases from Lee Dorrian‘s still-ripping Rise Above Records might have began with intermittent grindcore and hardcore punk releases but starting in 1991 they’d release acclaimed debuts from Electric Wizard, Orange Goblin, Goatsnake, and Sheavy. A few of the doom metal groups they took a chance on early were met with mixed results, I mean who could be blamed for forgetting about Mourn? And though I don’t think folks gave Penance much credit for their post-Dream Death debut until it’s re-issue decades later, it wasn’t an accessible release. For my taste in doom metal these were all brilliant releases and the weirdest one was easily Baltimore, Maryland’s very own Christian progressive rock/speed metal influenced doom metal hybrid trio Revelation.
Torn from the same odd early 80’s cloth as original doom-adjacent groups like Unorthodox and Confessor, Revelation‘s sound might have been generationally distinct from their influences but the pious DNA of Trouble and Pentagram shines throughout most of their discography. I don’t condone or support the subversive use of Christian propaganda within popular music and thankfully ‘Salvation’s Answer’ largely focuses on minimally preachy cathartic poetry for the disoriented, disenfranchised and dissociative without judgmental conversion a la Trouble. The music itself is entirely amateur but in a very redeeming sense. Though might not be their strongest composition, performance, or song-writing there is an early Sabbath-esque freedom to the otherwise very late 80’s style of Revelation‘s debut that is intoxicatingly informed by alternative rock and speed metal alike.
With some spirit of The Obsessed‘s debut in hand and a more recent addition of impressive bassist Bert Hall Jr. ‘Salvation’s Answer’ is the sort of record that aspires to greater variation as it plays. The album builds smartly upon their ‘The Illusion of Progress’ demo material by arranging it slightly different with the more ‘progressive’ and virtuoso elements coming towards the end of the release and adding more frequent doom riffs. I think fans of early Cathedral will understand the appeal of both John Brenner‘s somewhat powerless vocals and classic heavy metal influences to Lee Dorrian‘s own transitional sensibilities at the time. It might initially seem like some ‘off kilter’ early doom record but much like Requiem‘s ‘Via Crucis’ the dated or amateurish sound of ‘Salvation’s Answer’ will slowly reveal itself as one of the greats by the time it finishes.
The last thing I’d want to do is suggest this is the ‘best’ album from Revelation, as good as it might be it’s formative nature barely hints at how massive ‘Never Comes Silence’ and ‘…Yet So Far’ would be after it. Where it might hold greater interest is with folks who are looking for the rare combination of classic heavy/speed metal influences as they appeared in early doom metal releases. I personally love the honest expression of disenfranchisement in Brenner‘s voice and lyrics, there is a frail reality expressed that is rare for the era outside of maybe certain (very different) Solstice releases. It might not be a be-all-end-all classic but it is the sort of weird record for the dedicated doom metal fan that most people would pass up. Highly recommended as an induction into Revelation up to and including ‘Release’, after 2008 listen at your own risk.
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Traditional Doom Metal
Examine thin air. 4.0/5.0
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