w/ A Life Once Lost, Lightsbane, Pariah, Oath of Insanity and Circle the Drain. $12 advance, $15 doors. 6 p.m., Nov. 15. The Webster Underground, 31 Webster St., Hartford, webstertheater.com
Dave Davidson's longtime affinity for metal can be traced back to a gang of aggro alpha heathens entertaining a crowd that looks like it could only be sated by the flesh of decent American citizens and/or more savage rock. In other words, Davidson was once a 13-year-old at his grandparents' house watching the video for Pantera's "Walk" for the first time. "It was sheer aggression that drew me to it. Phil Anselmo's a pretty commanding front man, too," the Revocation guitarist/vocalist says. "['Walk' is] technically sort of a live video, so you're seeing hundreds of kids going totally apeshit. It really got me fired up as a kid, too. I was like, 'Holy shit, I want to be a part of this.'" A Dimebag Darrell solo halfway through the song left him particularly amazed and inspired.
At that point around 1999, Davidson had already been playing guitar for four-ish years, having experienced an earlier epiphany while seeing a sweet Joe Perry solo in an Aerosmith video. Still, witnessing the staccato machismo of "Walk" marked the beginning of something greater. Davidson dived into Pantera's catalog and then more variations of metal. By eighth grade, he had launched his own band with fellow teens Phil Dubois-Coyne and Anthony Buda.
Cryptic Warning started in the way every American middle/high school band is legally bound to (i.e., screwing around with Metallica and Nirvana covers) before writing original material. Warning released a full-length with 2005's Sanity's Aberration and did little touring. In 2006, the trio — who had gradually been fleshing out Warning's thrash-rooted sound with more progressive and technical traits — decided to restart under the new name of Revocation. "I think it worked out well 'cause the name change gave the whole band a reboot," says Davidson, whose history with performing music also includes jazz ensembles in high school and attending Berklee College of Music in the band's hometown of Boston. "We started printing up T-shirts for the first time and then booking our own shows, and there was a little bit more buzz around a newer band than a band that had been around the scene for a while that wasn't really doing that much."
Current-day Revocation are a much more accomplished and realized entity. The group have three full-lengths to their name (the last being 2011's Chaos of Forms), are signed to the ever-reliable metal label Relapse Records and have undergone personnel alterations with no publicized fuss. (Second guitarist Dan Gargiulo joined in 2010; in September, bassist Buda formally announced he was leaving Revocation to make pop music and amiably announced Brett Bamberger as his replacement.) Speedy and ultra-tight technical death metal has become the outfit's calling card, though Davidson (an ascendant guitar god among his peers) prefers calling them "extreme metal" because of the term's broadness. Davidson shares no qualms about devoting his life to his band and genre, and he speaks gratefully and professionally about meeting all kinds of people and seeing all kinds of places along the way, even though touring in a van in itself isn't particularly nice. He's modest and low-key on the phone, earnestly calling the opportunity to play music for people "an honor."
For a touch of symmetry to their story, let's appraise one of Revocation's own videos — specifically, the David Brodsky-directed clip for "The Grip Tightens," a scorcher off their new, Scion A/V-issued Teratogenesis. The vid is at once both totally dissimilar to and much in the spirit of the one for "Walk." Aged by impressively elaborate makeup, the members of Revocation are featured as four guys in a retirement home pulling their beloved metal out of the cobwebs for a rare community performance. Unlike the segment for "Walk," "The Grip Tightens" is played for laughs and is patently, proudly ridiculous. On the other hand, it too is a letter of devotion to metal's cathartic force and immediately empowering quality, even while the elderly onlookers in the clip couldn't be more dulled by it.
Looking deeper, the video is also a nod to the idea of being a metal "lifer" — a title all four members of Revocation have a decent chance of qualifying for. After all, Davidson's only 26 but is by all criteria a metal vet. Does he see this kind of future for himself? "It'll definitely be interesting if I'm 80 years old and still playing death metal. It might be cool once I get a little older to play other genres," he says. "Hopefully, I'll be fuckin' retired [on] the beach in Florida somewhere, just kickin' it."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun