December 23, 2013 ReVamp – Wildcard (Album review)
Dutch born soprano Floor Jansen has been a busy woman over the past 16 years. Beginning at a young age as a member of symphonic metal band After Forever, Jansen was at the forefront of female vocalists in the metal genre. Her dedication and passion for singing in multiple acts including After Forever, Ayeron, and Star One, led to her forming her own band ReVamp in 2009. Shortly after putting out their first record, the singer’s gigantic work load proved to be too much. On the precipice of complete burnout, Jansen put her professional and creative career on hiatus for about a year and half. After a few deep mental breaths the vocal dynamo returned with a new ReVamp album, entitled Wildcard. Rejuvenated, a surprising turn of events occurred when Jansen was asked to stand in as vocalist for Finnish band Nightwish. Unwilling to turn down the opportunity Jansen grabbed the bull by the horns and took on the multiple tasks of both Nightwish and ReVamp. Now in 2013, Revamp’s sophomore effort Wildcard is unleashed upon hungry fans.
Wildcard is a platter of Jansen’s own sonic catharsis aimed at exorcising the demons which plagued her. To help her tell the tale are bandmates Arjan Rijnen and Jord Otto on guitar, Ruben Wijga on keys, Matthias Landes on drums, along with newest member Henk Vonk on bass. In addition to these stalwarts, Jansen employed some pretty serious guest musicians, such as Devin Townsend, who contributes vocals on “Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia”. Other appearances include former After Forever bandmate, Mark Jansen, providing additional vocals on “Misery’s No Crime”.
As restless as the thoughts of a person breaking down can be, Wild Card sees Jansen plumb the depths and scrape the heights of both ends of her vocal range. She thunders and croons, sings opera and growls, effortlessly moving from mood to mood as she bares her heart to listeners. The songs themselves are mostly underpinned by down-tuned, scaled back riffs more commonly heard on nu-metal records, opposed to other projects Jansen has lent her fine voice to. While musically the record can be considered creatively barren to less open-minded listeners, the aggro-rock feel is enhanced by Jansen’s singing. There is a feeling throughout the album that you don’t know what she is going to do next. Her duet with Townsend is one spot where composition and delivery come seamlessly together. Jansen absolutely kills it on “Precibus“, which is arguably the strongest track on the record. “Distorted Lullabies” is another solid song where Jansen’s careful approach allows the song to breathe and give itself space. The rest of the band benefits on the song, flowing along with their queen in a glorious sonic retinue. “I Can Become” is another well-composed track, featuring some downright sizzling guitar/keyboard interplay.
While much of Wildcard comes off as repetitive guitar riffs, the keyboards are used in a wonderful matter. Unfortunately, the drumming seems to follow the muted guitar riffing, feeling out of place and at times coming off as very limited in their role. There are many strong and exciting moments peppered throughout Wildcard, but at the end of the day the record comes off slightly in-cohesive as a collective piece. As a showcase of the talents of Jansen, Wildcard is very effective; but as a contiguous listen it may leave some listener left wanting. CrypticRock gives this album 3 out of 5 stars.
Written by Nicholas Franco