“Music is my girlfriend”
While making this piece it appeared to me how difficult it is to break down the gigantic Rev catalogue (200+ releases) to just 10 items. I used a few parameters to make the selection somewhat easier, the music is the main thing, but I’m also a sucker for great artwork and aesthetics all around. I’m one of those guys who sometimes purchases records just by judging it’s cover. Of course I’ve been fooled many times by this tactic but Revelation Records and Rev bands are known for giving major attention to the lay-out of their releases.
Some of those are true masterpieces, others are made by famous artists and a few releases are iconic as they come.
I also tried to keep in mind what impact an album had in the timeframe from it’s releasedate just until now, the cold and wet summer of 2023. Some Revelation Records releases created major anticipation when they were announced but lost the interest of the audience straight after, think: Whenever You’re Ready by Fastbreak. Although the album is music wise still a decent post-hardcore album, I’m pretty sure not many Revelation-collectors put this one on their record players very often.
Another record that regressed as an afterthought is the World Be Free album, although the band was announced as a hardcore supergroup most fans forgot about their record(s) or don’t consider them as a crucial Revelation record mainly because the band almost never plays live shows.
“True till Rev.com”
Before diving into the top 5 I would like to address one more thing: the pain we all feel as Revelation Records collectors. Imagine, pre internet times, trying to understand the catalogue by figuring out all the data, the differences between pressing, etc.
It was pure chaos until Kevin Finn, at the time a Revelation Records employee, came to the rescue and created rev.txt, a simple online sheet with mainly data on Revelation and Revelation related releases.
Although it never got completed it was certainly useful and helped collectors to recognize what they had in their hands.
But somewhere in 2021 rev.txt appeared dead, it never got updated again and for many fans it was chaos again just like 20+ years ago.
Fortunately a new hero stood up named Ferry Krop, a notorious Dutch Revelation Records collector and fan by heart. He created truetillrev.com, a website that went further than rev.txt, not only containing the extensive data but also enhanced with photos for every release. If you are reading this and never heard of truetillrev.com please take a look and bookmark the website it will make your collectors life much easier.
5. Last of the daydreams
I’m imagining a parallel world in which REV82 By A Thread – Last Of The Daydreams released in 1999 is as big as the million seller Bleed American by Jimmy Eat World from 2001. I don’t understand why a song as “Surface”, the albumopener on Last Of The Daydreams barely reaches 50k streams on Spotify while mediocre Jimmy songs easily reach over a million streams.
I love By A Thread, I love both their albums on Revelation, in my opinion they’re the best hidden gem in the Rev catalogue. Last Of The Daydreams is packed with hit material. Songs as “Surface”, “Phaedra” and surely “Fade” are custom made for major stages. The album is emotional, heartfelt, deep,…but also groovy and well structured. And be it a punk or (post-)hardcore band, vocals remain crucial to me, they’re always a dealbreaker and in By A Thread singer John Franco’s voice and timbre are of a very high level which makes it an all around great album.
It’s also nice to conclude that new and upcoming “emo-bands” like Belgium’s Feverchild speak out on By A Thread as a great inspiration for their own music.
Rev funfact: together with the 2nd By A Thread album REV148 s/t from 2011, Last of The Daydreams was just pressed once making it atypical Rev releases without a later repress even though many fans hope the albums will become physical available somewhere in the near future.
4. The Nerve Agents
If Hardcore Punk is a genre, The Nerve Agents could be early 2000’s flag bearers, just like The Misfits did in the 80’s.
The Nerve Agents released two of their albums on Revelation Records, a same titled EP from 1998 and the Days Of The White Album LP released in 2000. While the later one is a good but not so spectacular album, the EP called REV73 The Nerve Agents self-titled is on a whole other level, calling in for just over 15 minutes of pure pleasure.
This EP comes really close to the energy of the often crazy and chaotic live performances the Nerve Agents did, it’s a raging, frantic and straightforward album. A song like Level 4 Outbreak which is about the lethality of the AIDS and Ebola-virus could’ve been written in 2021, post-COVID19. While album opener Carpe Diem (“seize the day”) is an ageless mantra tapped out at 1 minute and 27 seconds.
The Nerve Agents is another Revelation Records release with very appealing artwork suggesting a nuclear war in a Hiroshima/Chernobyl-esque landscape. It’s done by an artist named Duncan Long, which seems to be his only work for a hardcore/punk band. The band released another split 7 inch and an album after their time with Revelation but those releases did not attain the status of the first two records.
Eventually the band called it quits in 2002, bandmember Kevin Cross later formed another Rev band called Pitch Black somewhat of a Nerve Agents carbon copy.
Rev funfact: I admit to not knowing the meaning of Nerve Agents, seems that these are chemicals affecting our nerve system, thus the name. The main nerve agents are chemicals like sarin and soman. These agents are man-made and have been manufactured for use in chemical warfare.
3. California Cursed
Picture this, you’ve made one of the best records in recent history of the label and you can’t tour nor promote the album because of the pandemic. Welcome to Drain’s world! It could have gone either way for these guys but they were persistent and gave themselves quite a reputation as one of the hottest bands of the last 3 years.
Their live shows are super fun including beachballs, inflatable surfboards,… with which the audience is generating the maddest ‘Drain is your friend’ pit.
REV182 Drain – California Cursed grabs your attention just by the looks of it. The albumcover is superb, it’s one of the best on Revelation in the last few years, the artwork is done by Chris Wilson from the band Ekulu who also designed covers for his own band, Mindforce and No Pressure. California Cursed reignited the status of Revelation as an iconic and important underground music label something more recent bands like Forced Order, Primal Rite, Törso or Constant Elevation could not fully live up to.
This album brings a new and fresh taste to the Revelation Records catalogue, although it’s still hardcore and flooded with breakdowns and mosh parts. In over just 22 minutes you’ll hear Santa Cruz beaches, underwater sounds but also a zillion riffs by guitarist Cody Chavez who could claim the crown as Kirk Hammet’s (Metallica’s lead guitarist) best look-a-like.
Meanwhile singer Sammy Ciaramitaro is a great entertainer and energetic frontman, on their recent album Living Proof he also proved to be an excellent (punk) vocalist in the cover Good Good Times by The Descendents.
Rev funfact: California Cursed was produced by Taylor Young, also famous for his work with Nails, Militarie Gun, Code Orange and many more.
2. Texas Is The Reason
Sixteen, that’s it, the number of songs made by one of the best emo hardcore bands ever. All those songs can be found on REV151 Texas is The Reason – Do You Know Who You Are?, a discography containing all songs from the debut Rev 7 inch, two splits with Samuel and The Promise Ring, two unreleased songs and the incredible good nine tracks from the REV51 Texas Is The Reason – Do You Know Who You Are? album.
The discography had been given the same name as the REV51 album but somewhere around 2001 Revelation Records took the album out of print and replaced it in 2012 with the discography, giving it many represses until this day. It affirms the status of the band and it’s oeuvre, many consider Texas Is The Reason as an influential band even with this little work under their belt, still I put the REV51 at my number two in the deeper dive.
“Johnny on the Spot”, the album opener is one those references the band made to JFK’s shooting and death, other allusions are of course the bands name and the second song on the album “The Magic Bullet Theory”.
The nine song album is a standout in it’s genre, cited as an important album for post hardcore and is part of many best of lists. One of the main reasons is the high level singing of Garrett Klahn, the frontman is often dubbed as the band’s best instrument although all other bandmembers are great musicians too. I still believe that the song “Back and To The Left”, the 2nd one on the B-side on “Do You Know Who You Are?”, could be one of the best songs in Revelation Records history…
Rev funfact: in 1997 Texas Is The Reason was about to sign a deal with major Capitol Records, but after a final tour show in Germany the band decided that was not only their last tour stop but also the final stop as a band.
1. Manic Compression
In 1995 Sergio Vega, Tom Capone, Alan Cage and Walter Schreiffels wrote and released REV43 Quicksand – Manic Compression, in my opinion the best Revelation Records album after the iconic 23.
The song “Divorce” was pushed as the advanced single, other singles from the album are “Landmine Spring”, “Delusional” and maybe the most known song “Thorn In My Side”.
Manic Compression is an iconic Revelation album, not only because it’s a musical standout, the artwork is, again, a real piece of art done by Melinda Beck who else provided artwork for several Quicksand bandshirts that were for sale in the mid nineties and now much sought after by collectors. The album is also a very limited Rev release, according to truetillrev.com there’s only a first press on black (3008 copies) and white (300 copies) vinyl, which makes this album hugely desired by fans of the band and Revelation Records even with the album being repressed on different labels.
When Quicksand released this album grunge music was still a thing and the new wave of (commercial) punk was about to explode. Nevertheless, Manic Compression was able to stand tall among all this noise, and peaked in the USA Billboard top 200, something not many (post-)hardcore bands did before.
In 2020 Spin Magazine made a piece about the influences Manic Compression had on modern day musicians from bands as Title Fight, Thursday and Drug Church.
The greatest quote came from Michael McIvor (Candiria) saying: “Manic Compression, to me, is a perfect record. This is a whole new collection of perfect songs, and there’s just not a bad song on the record – not even a lull or a dull moment. It’s kind of the pinnacle of what a true honest artistic expression of the time can be when done right. And when music is done right, it is a time machine.”
Great words to end this deeper dive in 2023, but who knows what else will be published on the iconic label. I am already curious and as a fan will continue to buy everything that appears on the label so maybe in a few years I’ll come back here with a modified deeper dive.
Rev funfact: Quicksand’s pedigree is huge, some other bands in the family are: Gorilla Biscuits, Warzone, Project X, Bold, Youth Of Today, Rival Schools, Burn and Deftones.