Of all the classic horror writers, H.P. Lovecraft has had one of the most significant influences on contemporary horror. Along with creating Cthulhu, it’s Lovecraft’s exploration of cosmic existentialism that has had the most impact on the genre. Throughout numerous mediums, horror artists continue to examine this idea of cosmic anxiety and terror; and what better way to explore it than through annihilating death metal.
“I’ve loved sci-fi horror ever since I was a kid,” guitarist/vocalist Dave Davidson of Revocation shares. “I would go to blockbuster with my mom and beg her to rent me all the classics. I really loved The Thing and the Alien series. [Those] were my first exposure to the world of science fiction and horror.” Davidson’s love for these genres is the foundation for Revocation’s seventh studio album, The Outer Ones (Metal Blade).
From the moment the album begins, Revocation dive into a world of sci-fi insanity and horror adrenaline. Each song presents technical death metal thrashing, exuding madness and brutality. In regard to Lovecraft’s writing, Davidson shares, “A few years down the line I discovered Lovecraft and quickly realized just how strong his influence was on [horror] as a whole. Lovecraft interests me in a number of ways; he was probably the first writer to create a world of horror on such a massive scale. Sure there were concepts of ghosts and aliens before him, but the whole idea of cosmic entities older than time that ruled a multiverse was pretty unfathomable.”
He adds, “I also enjoy his writing style in general; it can be descriptive and paint a macabre picture, or it can be intentionally vague. [This] lets the reader’s imagination fill in the blanks to create something truly terrifying in their own minds. Finally, I dig the allegorical nature of his works. In many of his stories, the human character is trying to meddle with forces beyond their control, and their lust for power often brings about their own demise. I think it’s an interesting reflection of society.”
Davidson says that while the record focuses on a lot of horror/sci-fi storytelling, the music itself is the first factor. “For me, it all starts with the music first; I need to let it inform me in some way. Hearing an entire song, or even just listening to sections of riffs, will start to conjure certain imagery in my mind.”
“From there, sometimes I’ll start with a title or just scrawl out a few lines on a page. It takes a while to get the ball rolling, but once the ideas start flowing I kind of obsess over it until I feel satisfied. I’ll usually go back and make some changes here and there as any writer would, but generally, once the first verse is done the lyrics really start to flow.”
Davidson unleashes some of his best storytelling throughout each song, captivating listeners with bizarre and haunting imagery. “There’s a few songs influenced by Lovecraft’s tales on the new [record],” he shares. “The opening track [‘Of Unwordly Origin‘] is based off of ‘Dreams In The Witch House’. ‘That Which Consumes All Things’ is about a lesser-known short story of his entitled ‘The Colour Out Of Space’. That one is particularly interesting because the entity in the story has no real form; it’s just an amorphous cloud that saps the life force from this small farm town. [Lovecraft] was able to take the creepy ethereal nature of a ghost, but turn it into something alien, which was an interesting twist on a classic which I appreciate.”
He continues, “Not every song [on the record] is inspired by Lovecraft though. ‘Fathomless Catacombs’ is a story that I created; [it] involves three grave robbers that break into a haunted cathedral in search of wealth in [a] luminous tomb in [these underground] crypts. Their avarice leads them deeper and deeper into the labyrinth, [where] they realize that the luminous tomb was merely a cursed illusion meant to draw them in. They end up being cursed by the evil presence in the crypts, damned to roam eternally in the lightless maze.”
The Outer Ones is one of the strongest releases in the Revocation discography; its ominous tone and masterful technicality emit pure chaos. Horror and metal make for an extravagant combination of art forms; they are both aggressive and can tap into the taboos of human existence. Davidson recognizes these traits and hopes that the record will represent them (or at least get people to headbang).
“I think [death metal and horror] share a mystical and thought-provoking quality that can be both intriguing and terrifying at the same time,” he shares. “Both art forms are meant to be confrontational and push the viewer or listener out of their comfort zones. I tried to capture that horrifying expression of ineffable madness present in Lovecraft’s work on this release; at the very least hopefully [the record] make people want to bang their heads.”
You can purchase a copy of The Outer Ones via the Metal Blade website or Bandcamp. And you can listen to “Of Unworldly Origin” below. And if you want to catch up on previous articles of Metal & Mike, you can find those here. You can also follow me and my work via Twitter.