Thursday, February 22, 2018

Album Review: Revertigo - Revertigo

Certain musicians names pop up again and again, and it's hard to explain why. For me, one of those names is Mats Leven. He has worked with numerous bands over the years, and every time I've heard him on a record, I've wondered what everyone else sees in him that I don't. None of the projects he has taken part in has struck me as great, and while he is a fine enough singer, he doesn't move the needle and make the material better. He is the musical equivalent of a replacement player in baseball, that mythical figure who exists just so you can judge if someone is good or not. So when a new band came across my desk that features him in a prominent role, my curiosity was piqued as to whether he has something more to offer when more involved in the process.

Before getting to the music itself, I have to note this is the third album in the last month I've reviewed where a track, album, and band all share the same name. For crying out loud, don't be so damn lazy, bands. Free advice; just because Black Sabbath did something doesn't mean you have to do it to. They made plenty of bad decisions in their time.

Now that I've gotten that out of my system, let's talk about the record itself. Revertigo delivers an odd mixture of doom, melodic metal, and 80s rock. On tracks like the opening "Hoodwinked", it works well, but at other times it leaves questions about exactly what this project is trying to achieve. Was this just an outlet for whatever songs were left over from other projects, or is there supposed to be a connecting thread running through them that gives Revertigo an identity of their own.

It's not easy to see how we get from the doomy melody of that opener to something like "Symphony Of Fallen Angels", which has the artificial sounding drum patterns of that awful strain of 'rock' that has come to be the only kind the mainstream knows exists. There simply isn't any logical progression from one sound to the other, which means that album doesn't cohere into a whole.

This album is at its best when it sticks closer to Mats' past in doom bands, just with a bit more melody. "Hoodwinked" is great, as is "The Cause", two of the tracks that follow that blueprint. Those songs are doomy hard rock with big melodies, and they create something rather interesting. Doom has little melody, and melodic rock is seldom doomy. The combination is something we don't get to hear very often, and it's something I would be very interested in hearing more of, to be honest.

Unfortunately, this album doesn't find a creative vein to mine. The eleven tracks on this record flit around, never settling on just who Revertigo are. That's a shame, because there is a path evident here where they could have done something rather good, but there are a few too many diversions that bring too much modern rock synthetics into the proceedings. They stick out like a sore thumb, and like a hitch-hiker in this day of wariness, they end up going nowhere.

Revertigo is another in the long list of good ideas that don't manifest themselves. There are some good tracks here, and there is a glimmer of what could have been, but the package doesn't have the focus necessary to rise above being merely decent. Like my earlier commentary, this is replacement level music.

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