The Noise Revival - To the Seven Churches in the Province of Asia (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Noise Revival

To the Seven Churches in the Province of Asia (2005)


I absolutely loathe the word pretentious. I wish I could wipe it from the collective vernacular of anyone I know who listens to music, because a good majority of the time, people use it in place of "bad" because they're too dim-witted to think of anything else, and figure they'll sound intelligent if they drop pretentious into a conversation.

The title of the debut record from the Noise Revival, To the Seven Churches in the Province of Asia is one I've heard called pretentious on numerous occasions. Pretentious? Hardly. Instead, and as the album title would suggest, it's quite an epic journey. Clocking it at close to an hour, and a lot of that being instrumental, this record is a dynamic, twisting, explosive blast of music that will if nothing else, keep you on your toes at all times. No two songs are even remotely the same; the long, gorgeous instrumental passages in "Strange Love" are a far cry from the dissonant riffing and howling vocals of "Don't Give Up the Fight."

Schizophrenic, but always in control, the Noise Revival's ambition is only matched by the cohesive back-and-forth among each of the four members of the group. There is no centerpiece; they all work in a manner that's conducive to strong and effective songwriting. The ominous organ playing that begins "Dragoon" is contrasted by some bluesy guitar and deep baritone vocals, delivered in a powerful style that contrasts the organ playing just as much as those bluesy chords being played. Nathan Felix handles both of those duties, guitar and vocals, and does quite a fine job at it, but by the end of this specific song it's the organ playing of Stephen Felix and the pounding drums of Adam Owens that close the door.

As I mentioned before, a good deal of this record is instrumental, and tracks like "The Dungeon of Versailles" take that format and run with it. Taking a decidedly different approach than most bands playing the instrumental game, the sound is a lot more rich and vibrant; every drum roll and every chord progression is fresh and exciting. The keyboards figure well into the equation, used only when needed rather than becoming obnoxious as many bands who implement them are. Good as the band may be in crafting extremely long songs, it's ironically their shortest that's the best. What begins sounded like Explosions in the Sky's "A Poor Man's Memory" with Mega Man-like keyboards quickly picks up pace with some gorgeous guitar tones and the return of Nathan Felix' deep vocal attack; everything just gels to perfection.

And a journey it is, one full of benefits if only you're willing to stay the course. Call it pretentious all you want, call it long-winded, but this submersive adventure packs more into an hour than some bands do a career.