REVIEW: R3VO – EP: Fireflies

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When a local band claims to have been influenced by bands such as OPETH, PORCUPINE TREE, MUSE, and KARNIVOOL, there is a rather high probability that I’m either going to fall head over heels for the band or hate it from the bottom of my heart. Hailing from Berlin’s underground scene, R3VO (pronounced “Revo”) is one of those bands that have the audacity to get my hopes up by listing these bands as their influences. Thus, their debut EP, “Fireflies,” released independently on November 16th, 2022, begs to be examined in full detail. Hoping for the best, that their bold claims have a good ring of truth about them, and fearing for the worst, that I’m about to get hoodwinked by such outrageous hyperbole, I embark on this sonic journey. It does not take long to realize that these dashing young blades are still in the early stages of breaking their sea legs but, to give credit where it is due, their entrance to the scene is a very enticing one – a truly alluring fandango of alternative rock and prog.

The EP begins with the lead single, “Artificial Pleasure,” an introspective journey into the world of addiction. The opening riff is subtly reminiscent of one of MUSE‘s finest hours, “Hysteria” from 2003. Pair this beefy riff with the dramatic style of the band’s vocalist, Leo Lotux, balancing between Cedric Bixler-Zavala of THE MARS VOLTA and Hayley Williams of PARAMORE, and there you have it: the signature R3VO sound that mixes proggy twists and turns with the raw energy of somewhat 1990s-tinted alternative rock. The smoother passages nicely balance out the dramatic peaks; the vocals run the risk of sounding a bit too emo on occasion, but just when things are about to become awkward, a mellow verse comes to the rescue.

Then, the title track sets off with a staccato riff that resonates with an almost AC/DC-like aura, as though straight from the intro of “For Those About to Rock.” This is no music to drink beer to, however, so the roundhouse vibe is soon replaced with the band’s signature sound. In nothing short of an astounding manner, these young ruffians avoid the usual pitfalls of many an up-and-coming rock outfit: the riff-origami in the song is not frosted with all sorts of unnecessary sonic ornaments. The arrangements throughout the EP are rather simple and minimalist; the riffs have space to breathe, so to speak. It is an uncommon trait in proggy outfits that are still in their embryonic stages. Considering, say, the rather mind-twisting stop-and-go riffing of “Dorian Gray,” it is exactly the minimalist approach that makes the riff burger taste so delicious. So, as songwriters, these young rockers sound as if they are already old dogs at it.

My personal favorite is “Darling” for its entrancing triplet sway and the way the song switches from one mood to another during the instrumental passages. Some of the modal changes have a nice THE CONTORTIONIST vibe about them – not a small feat for such a bunch of newcomers! These German prog-freshmen are, no doubt, still searching for the holy grail of their true inner voice and, if you ask me, this particular song might as well provide some guiding light along the way.

Then again, “Aluminium” brings the EP to a close in a spectacularly haunting mood; 2 minutes into the song, the robust alt.rock riffing suddenly gives way to a 2-minute plateau of atmospheric free-floating in zero gravity, blending PINK FLOYD‘s mid-1970s sonic explorations with the aura of Julee Cruise‘s iconic take on the Twin Peaks theme song. At their most atmospheric, R3VO sure knows how to sound spine-chilling.

The journey ends here but you needn’t look further to understand why the band is starting to make waves: these Berlin rockers are onto something rather interesting here and I can hardly wait to hear more new material from them. Well, yeah, it’s very likely that the more dramatic turns, especially when it comes to the vocal department, may split critics and listeners right down the middle but, then again, certain factions of music fans with an inclination to snobbery are still having a hard time coming to terms with, say, Thom Yorke‘s idiosyncratic whining – more than two decades after RADIOHEAD released their gargantuan classic in 1997. In this case, the melodramatic vocals aren’t even that bad – and there’s more than meets the eye (or ear) when you really dig into this offering. “Fireflies EP” by R3VO is a very, very promising first move.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Artificial Pleasure
  2. Fireflies
  3. Dorian Gray
  4. Darling
  5. Aluminium

Lineup

Victor Nissim – bass

Altair Chagué – drums

Jan Kurfürst – guitars

Leo Lotux – vocals

Label

Independent

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