ReVamp - Wild Card
Nuclear Blast
Symphonic Metal
11 songs (49:04)
Release year: 2013
ReVamp, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Rob
Between recovering from After Forever's demise, filling in as a touring vocalist for Nightwish and getting the ball rolling on her new band ReVamp, it's been a hectic few years for Floor Jansen - arguably metal's most versatile and competent female vocalist. At the time of ReVamp's self-titled debut, the band lacked any full-time dedicated members. As a result, that album became a collaboration between various contributing musicians rather than a coherent band effort, and it showed. Jansen suffered a severe burnout shortly after that release but managed to stick it to the man, and finally ReVamp's creativity as a complete band can now be heard in the form of Wild Card.

Her vocal delivery here is unsurprisingly powerful, poised and never ceases to amaze. For those familiar with Floor Jansen, such a comment goes without saying, but it's testament to her technique that even after more than a decade of singing in such a challenging way, she still manages to sound so effortless and unworn. Something that was seriously lacking on the first ReVamp album was the use of her operatic style, but on this record it's a crucial part of her repertoire, tastefully adding an incredibly profound and sometimes creepy texture to the music. Wild Card is also the first album where she makes an attempt at growling, worryingly enough, but she succeeds and is unrecognizable in her grunting moments.

Having a full-time guitarist involved in the writing process has clearly been beneficial to them. The sound is very guitar-driven and riff-conscious, elevated by very dynamic structures that balance breakdowns, riffs and solos in ways that make the flow of energy extremely satisfying. The Limbic System is a rhythmically-charged monster, for example, while Amendatory's catchy riff is complimented by a weirdly well-composed chorus. The orchestra is used sparingly but effectively across the board, as is the choir, making room for electronic pads and synths that contribute to a more modern and crisp sound.

The most relentless song is the intense third part of the Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown trilogy, Neurasthenia, featuring Devin Townsend. It has a certain hint of his trademark atmospheric sound and his voice marries well with Jansen's furious roaring. Mark Jansen of Epica and MaYaN performs some guest growls on Misery's No Crime, and although he's a respectable name within the genre, it's a move that comes across as more fan service than a worthwhile contribution. This song also suffers from lyrics that are somewhat janky and his delivery of them is unfortunately rather amusing. As on previous works, Floor keeps the lyrical diction elaborate, mostly hitting the mark but sometimes softening the line between sincerity and flat-out cheese.

Apart from that complaint, Wild Card seems to have everything - razor-sharp production, machine-gun musicianship and a seasoned vocalist who delivers with panache, but is the songwriting outstanding enough to brand it a classic? When it comes to the actual quality of the songs, it has to be said that it's a hair away from achieving that extra shred of memorability. ReVamp haven't set out to revolutionize metal music with Wild Card, as much as I wish they had, but it's still a very worthwhile venture, and a vast improvement on their debut. With all its aggression, drama and melody it can safely be described as the ideal symphonic metal cocktail, with a much-needed kick. If possible, seek out the bonus track Sins, a solid belter that went mysteriously missing from the final tracklist.
Killing Songs :
The Limbic System, Precibus, Neurasthenia, Distorted Lullabies, Sins
Rob quoted 86 / 100
Other albums by ReVamp that we have reviewed:
ReVamp - ReVamp reviewed by Goat and quoted 78 / 100
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