Reviver - s/t 4/5

Reviewed: 7-29-05


1. The call
2. Osiris eyes
3. Watch out
4. Gates of time
5. Garden of Eden
6. Another day
7. Cycles
8. Revive and survive
9. Strong
10. Bringer of evil
11. Fight your fight
12. Beyond the infinite

In the last couple of years, Remedy Records has proven itself to have a great ear for talent in the traditional heavy metal world. The Hamburg, Germany-based label is already home to such luminaries as Stormwarrior, Hibria, Predator, Paragon, Twisted Tower Dire, Solemnity and Airborn. Reviver are a most worthy addition to that impressive stable, both for their perseverance and their musical acumen. The Dutch 5-piece has been kicking around for 8 years in search of the elusive record deal. Despite being buffeted by frequent line-up changes and disheartened by the sting of record label rejection, the band quietly honed and refined their craft over the years by releasing several self-financed demo CDs. The band's current lineup includes 2 members of the unheralded LMP act Montany, which released the underrated 'New born day' CD 3 years ago.

This 's/t' debut CD represents the fruition of all those years of toil in obscurity, because Reviver have unquestionably put their best foot forward here. The 11 tracks (plus intro) include re-recorded versions of some of the finest tunes from the band's demos, as well as a few new songs for good measure. The style of this material varies slightly because of the protracted time frame over which it was written; however, it can best be described as anthemic pure, largely mid-paced heavy metal displaying equal reverence to the NWOBHM (standout track "Garden of Eden" captures the feel of those bygone days) and contemporary power metal (witness the all-out double-bass speed workout of "Watch out"), all wrapped in a virtually keyboard-free package. Reference points that popped into mind as I listened to this CD were Metalium (especially in the vocals, although they lack the paint-peeling aspect of Henning Basse's upper register), Paragon, Tad Morose, and Jag Panzer, but none of those comparisons is entirely satisfying either.

Ultimately, Reviver simply oozes quality. The individual performances do not dazzle, but I get the feeling that's by design, as these musicians want the spotlight to be on their songs, not on their mastery over their instruments. Vocalist Patrick von Maurik may not be the most gifted vocalist in metal, but he does a fine job here and eclipses his performance on the Montany CD with his emotive and strong (albeit slightly scratchy) delivery, sounding vaguely like a cross between mid-range Henning Basse and David Wayne. The production job is top-notch too, just as we've come to expect on Remedy releases, even though the knob-twiddling was handled by guitarist Fred Mantel. But the real stars of the show are these catchy and endearing songs, which sparkle more with each listen. "Revive and survive", "Gates of Eden", "Strong", "Fight your fight", and "Another day" are all outstanding anthems guaranteed to make you tap your toes, bang your head and sing along. The only mildly disappointing songs are "Bringer of evil", which is ruined by a wretched falsetto line in the chorus, and closer "Beyond the infinite", a 6 minute instrumental in which the band experiment with piano and synths but ultimately do not go anywhere.

Reviver are to be congratulated for delivering an excellent debut CD after so many years of laboring in the underground. Now that they've homered in their first big-league at-bat, the real question is whether they'll be able to build on that success or whether they'll fall victim to the dreaded sophomore slump. I'll be very interested to hear how they fare when they have only one year to accumulate songs, rather than the 8 years they had the first time around. For now, however, 'Reviver' comes highly recommended to all fans of traditional, straightforward, catchy heavy metal from the heart.




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