|Musical Style: Progressive Metal||Produced By: Graeme Swallow & Tom Bender|
|Record Label: Independent||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 14||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 76:37|
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
Western New York based Revelation Project moves in an unequivocal progressive metal direction on its 14-track and seventy-six minute long independently released self-titled debut. Approaching its art in a very technical and complex manner, Revelation Project possesses a sound certain to appeal to fans of Dream Theater, Shadow Gallery, Symphony X, Threshold, Theocracy, Pursuit and a host of others within the same genre. After being put together in the spring of 2001 by founding members Graeme Swallow and bassist Dave Jonathan, Revelation Project started out as a one-time showcase at the Kingdom Bound festival that same year. Following its debut performance, however, the band decided to continue on with keyboardist Chelsea Wagner, lead vocalist Tom Bender and drummer Russ Stack joining the ranks over the succeeding three years.
While Bender might not have the talent to match the likes of Russ Allen (Symphony X) or Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery), he displays good dynamics and range in putting forth a very commendable and emotionally charged vocal performance. Swallow is a talented musician who contributes a rock solid rhythm guitar sound in addition to best displaying his lead guitar abilities on tracks such as "Children" and "Liars". Wagner proves quite the skillful keyboardist, adding just the right amount of texture to the bands sound without coming across overbearing. Stack and Jonathan comprise a tight sounding rhythm section.
Revelation Project showcases one of the finest production jobs this reviewer has heard on an independent release. The rhythm guitar comes across full and heavy, while the lead guitar and bass both evenly rise above the instrumentation. Keyboards stand out in a clean and crisp sounding manner.
Please note that Revelation Project is a concept album based around end time’s themes in which the lyrics too many of its songs include direct quotations from Revelation while others rely on the bands interpretation of the book in question. The albums plot, which takes place during the tribulation following the rapture, follows an individual who is eventually betrayed and imprisoned for his beliefs in Christ. When given the choice to either take the mark of the beast or be executed, he is martyred for his faith and ends up in heaven with other martyrs as described in Revelation 6:9-11.
The only drawback to the project worth noting is that much of the albums spoken word portions - such as the introduction to "Revelation" - sounds more like members of the band in the studio talking into a microphone as opposed to actors playing legitimate roles. The lone exception is "Martyrs" in which the emotional delivery of the narrator puts the song over the top. To get a better idea of how narration is supposed to be done on a concept album then listen to Blind Guardian's wonderful Tolkien-influenced 1998 release Nightfall In Middle Earth.
"Revelation" opens the album to dialogue between the disciples and Christ from Matthew 24:3-14 over the sound of a battle in the background. Following a huge resounding explosion, "Revelation" slowly advances in a foreboding manner as Bender introduces the main character of the storyline after being imprisoned for his beliefs:
In dark and cold confined
I've lost all sense of time
And I don't know if I'll ever see the sun again
I fall on bended knees
And pray, "God help me please."
But I'm willing to die here for my beliefs
"Decay" is a terrific instrumental driven by an aggressive but catchy guitar riff accentuated by keyboards, on more than one occasion the two delivered over an attack of hard hitting double bass. I like how the song breaks near its end for several seconds of bluesy lead guitar work underscored by a prominently mixed bass line.
The progressive metal of "Children" gives rise to a portentous feel as it moves forward at an upbeat tempo to a crunchy rhythm guitar, the song picking up further in pace upon attaining a sweeping chorus highlighted by Benders' emotional vocal delivery. A minute long instrumental passage opens to several seconds of blistering lead guitar that gives way to a tastefully done keyboard solo. "Children" talks about the rapture:
I woke this morning to the screaming sirens sounds
A chaos nothing like I've heard before
Turned on my radio to get the morning news
I sat and listened in a silent horror
They said millions of people vanished overnight
All over the world the same thing's going on
Confused and terrified those who remain
The seven minute "Falling" fades in until a quietly played and slowly moving guitar line holds sway over its first and second verse as it details events taking place during the tribulation:
New world leader save us all
Chaos turned to marshal law
"Peace and safety," the whole world cries
Abruptly gaining momentum as the rhythm guitar kicks in to reinforce a chorus delivered in an anthem-like manner, "Falling" transitions to instrumental passage featuring a minute and a half of slowly played lead guitar work. The songs message could not be summed up any better than in the final line to its closing verse:
The sound of deafening silence
Is the sound of the Heaven above
in its calm before the storm of judgment...
After "Liars" begins to narration from Mark 13:14-22, a symphonic combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards conveys its first verse at a mid-tempo pace until it takes off to an aggressively delivered riff. "Liars" culminates as it gains impetus for an epic flavored chorus in which the main character of the storyline makes a statement of faith:
I will stand in faith true
I will only honor You
Through Your power I'll defy
Those who spread the Dragon's lie
The song stops dead in its tracks for a two minute instrumental passage showcasing several seconds of killer lead guitar work that transitions to a keyboard solo. "Liars" exposes the deceptions of the antichrist:
The seventh kingdom came that day
Under Abomination's reign
His soul controlled by Dragon's will alone
He made false peace with the chosen land
He brought the world under his command
Through demonic powers not his own
Fatal wound inflicted through his human head
Amazed world that saw him rise up from the dead
"Who is like the beast?" they cried
"Who can make war on the one who cannot die?"
"Marked" commences as a squad car pulls up to a house as the main character is arrested after being betrayed for refusing to take the mark. Once Bender sings acappella, an upbeat mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards bolsters the songs first verse as he describes the mark in question:
Show your right hand or show your forehead
And take the mark of unity
Prove your undying allegiance to this one-world lie...
Without this mark you will not buy or sell or trade
Receive the mark and you will live free
Refuse the mark and you will die
“Marked” picks up in pace for a pre-chorus coming across in the form of a warning:
Can you see the end is near?
Don't be fooled by the Dragon's lies...
The smooth sounding chorus that follows describes the characters plight:
On the run
Where can I go?
Will I live to see tomorrow?
On the run
God's my guiding light
And my refuge in this final night
After several seconds of driving rhythm guitar, he is given the opportunity to take the mark -
My arms chained behind my back
They march me through the prison
Hear the warden say to me,
"This last chance you are given...
If you'll only take the mark
I'll spare your life this hour"
- but refuses and dies a martyr’s death:
A final door is open before me
See the tower with blade drawn high...
My coming reward will last forever
Father in heaven, open Your arms
I'm coming home
"Martyrs" progresses to a blend of narration and keyboards as the main character finds himself in heaven with other believers who have been martyred for their faith, the emotional atmosphere maintained as the narrator quotes directly from Revelation 6:10-11:
To every martyr He gives a white
robe, a symbol of His gift of eternal righteousness to us
And with soft words He comforts us
He tells us to rest just a little
while longer, while the number
of us has not yet been fulfilled
But surely after this will come judgment...
The driving riff opening "Judgment" drops from the mix as a piano moves the song forward at the start of its first verse. Gaining impetus to a crunchy rhythm guitar, a touch of keyboards accentuates the song and takes it to a catchy chorus asking a very relevant question:
When blood rains and stars fall and mountains crash into the sea
When your body's broken will you worship me?
The piano returns as "Judgment" slows prior to attaining an instrumental passage carried by a hard hitting combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards. "Judgment" is about exactly that:
The trumpets sound
My judgment’s coming down
Hail and fire
Mixed with blood
Raining from the sky
Strike the sea
Waters change to blood and poison
"Promise" is a short (2:17) but effective instrumental sustained by a piano backed by female vocal harmonies.
A piano carries the ballad "Millennium" through its first verse as it details how Satan will be bound for a thousand years:
The winged creature came
Flying down to make way for the King
In his hand he held
A key and mighty chain
And wielding great power he locked
The Dragon far away
Subsequent to gaining momentum when the rhythm guitar enters the mix for its second verse, the song evenly progresses to a chorus with a worshipful feel:
The King has come to give reward to those He calls His own
"Millennium" ends as Satan is released one final time to deceive the nations only to be thrown into the lake of fire:
So one final time the Dragon
was set free to steal the souls of those he could
Finally, the fallen cast into the lake of fire
We who were the tried and true
we entered into life anew and Glory
An acoustic guitar underscores the extent of the albums second ballad "Eternity", a song showcasing a very fine melody line as it discusses God's eternal Kingdom:
Where the light of the sun will never shine
'Cause the King and His Glory shine brighter
It's where the music will never end
And forever we'll dance with joy
This final age will never end
We'll live forever in Glory
"Glory", the albums third and final instrumental, is an upbeat six minute hard rocker driven from front to back by an upfront mix of keyboards backed by a crisp rhythm guitar. On more than one occasion the song transitions to a tastefully done keyboard solo allowing Wagner to display her abilities.
A slowly played acoustic guitar underlining narration from Revelation 22:12-13 & 16 introduces "Delivered". The acoustic guitar continues to carry the song through its first verse until it picks up in pace in a powerful manner as the rhythm guitar kicks in to drive the second and third. "Delivered" celebrates the eternal reward of the believer:
Through faith I'm saved by grace
No judgment shall I face
I'm delivered and I will live forever more
The album ends to the traditional church hymn "Doxology".
What else can you say except that Revelation Project is a terrific work of art allowing the band of the same name to display its creative songwriting skills, top notch musicianship and well thought out lyrics within the context of a concept with a powerful message.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Revelation" (4:23), "Decay" (5:34), "Children" (7:48), "Falling" (7:30), "Liars" (9:48), "Marked" (6:28), "Martyrs" (2:47), "Judgment" (8:20), "Promise" (2:17), "Millennium" (5:13), "Eternity" (5:21), "Glory" (5:56), "Delivered" (3:40), "Doxology" (1:24)
Tom Bender – Lead Vocals
Graeme Swallow – Guitars & Keyboards
Dave Jonathan – Bass
Chelsea Wagner – Keyboards
Russ Stack – Drums & Percussion
Charlie Pettit – Guitars
Kari Teno - Vocals