Dave Davidson of Revocation: Great Is Our Sin

Great Is Our Sin is an epic album that recounts a sombre tale of humankind through the ages....

The Boston bread Revocation has released their sixth album, Great Is Our Sin, and it’s an epic album that recounts a sombre tale of humankind through the ages. As this technically rich and musically captivating album was about to be released, Revocation’s lead guitarist and vocalist Dave Davidson caught up with Metal As Fuck to chat about Great Is Our Sin and history repeating itself....

I’m really intrigued by Great Is Our Sin…How have you approached this album that differs from your last five? I notice that the first few songs are much faster and quite aggressive, then still the progressive elements coming through in the second half, how does this new album build on from your previous releases? “Yeah I think the new record’s a more dynamic record, there’s a lot of different textures going on, of course a big difference from the last record is that we have a new drummer now, Ash Pearson, so he brought in his own style to our music, his own way of approaching and composing drum parts, I think its been really beneficial to our sound and brings some cool different elements to our music, that would be the biggest change".

How have you found working with a new drummer and all your members dispersed across the continent? “Ah yeah, it was great working with him, we had to write in a little bit of a different way, didn’t have the luxury of getting together any time we felt like it because he lives in Canada, but we made time around different shows we were playing, to set up some rehearsal time for the new material and we also did a lot of things over Skype, where I would play him a riff or he would play me back a drum beat over an idea that I had and we could kinda bounce our ideas off each other just using the magic of technology!”

One of the things that intrigues me the most about it all is the title and concept – Great Is Our Sin – the title - is derived from the Charles Darwin quote, from The Voyage of The Beagle. I’m curious, how did you stumble across this quote and why did it resonate with you? “Well, I stumbled upon the quote when I was reading a book by Tavis Smiley and Cornell West entitled The Rich and The Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, and this quote just really sort of stuck with me and sort of made me think about, just, recorded human history and all the different follies of man throughout the ages and I decided to look at history all the way through going back to the middle ages through to the modern day and view that timeline through the lens of the notion of ‘great is our sin’.”

How fascinating. I’m curious as to how you have interpreted these historical themes. How have you approached composition with the themes of class, division between rich and poor, and present-day institutions and so forth in mind? “Well I looked at different events throughout history that I thought fit with the notion of ‘great is our sin’ and so for example I looked at the conflict between religion and science in the age of Copernicus and Galileo, the Copernican Heresy was about how the church came in and clamped down on the research of scientists and philosophers of the time and prevented them from exploring things and outright threatened them if they continued with their research and just looking at a modern day example you could look at something like stem cell research and religious rights, very anti-stem cell research, tied in with the notion of, of… [I interrupt – ‘the body immaculate’] yeah and it's all happening at the moment of conception and when in reality stem cell research could; if explored to its full extent, could be used to help lots of people who are suffering from various ailments. So, sometimes, history repeats itself, and I don’t really touch on that per se in that song, but more of an historical reference to kind of show you how these themes that are hundreds of years old can still be relevant today.”

So interpreting these songs musically has been more of a challenge on this record, and putting the songs together thinking about themes of despair, of persecution and oppression? I’m curious as to how these ideas were interpreted compositionally? “I write the music first before I write any lyrics, so it isn’t like the lyrical content has an effect on the musical compositions, those two things are sort of separate, but what I will say is that I can look at a song and get this sort of intrinsic vibe for what I think the subject matter could be about, like if I have ten topics I want to write about, I think - what does this song feel like to me or does a title fit with this song, the attitude of the music. But as far as the lyrical content goes it doesn’t influence the musical composition, because the lyrics are all written after the fact.”

Do you think that the record tells a kind of overall story? If so, what’s the culminating message? I know the album ends with a Slayer cover, which is pretty cool….“Well, as I was saying earlier, it is a sort of a constant record with that overall arching theme of ‘great is our sin’…the folly of man throughout history…is the main content of the record and there are songs that deal with present day issues, there are songs that deal with historical references, but that’s the overall arching theme, the title of the record, Great Is Our Sin.”

So you have North American and European touring plans, have you played any of these songs live yet? “No we haven’t played any of it live yet, we’re about the hit the road on Summer Slaughter and then we’re going to go off to Europe and play with Obscura, and hopefully a co-headlining tour when we come back from that. So yeah we’re looking forward to it, can’t wait to hit the road and play these songs live.”

Any plans to come back to Australia yet? “Yeah hopefully on this record, we had an absolute blast, I’m hoping we can come back.”