Two years after their dark juggernaut "Chamber Of Divine Elaboration", this French trio have returned with a bombastic follow-up. Things have certainly changed since last time they came crawling out of their abandoned ruins, and this beast has taken on a new, bigger shape.
As with their last effort, "Inactive Theocracy" still plays like a not so distant cousin to BLUT AUS NORD, but in a commendable effort to expand, REVERENCE are now dressed in a new mantle. The raspy vocals are condemned to the background, and instead operatic vocals ala ARCTURUS have taken the spotlight. The Silent Hill-atmosphere still provides a grimy backbone, but the eerie sounds are undermined by the overly theatrical singing. Such a combination of creepy effects and grandiose chanting creates a sharp divide, and rather than embracing the schizophrenic potential, REVERENCE fall between two chairs. The result is not particularly horrifying, and too often it sounds like a tame attempt at Symphonic Black Metal.
Despite these significant weaknesses, "Inactive Theocracy" is by no means a scrapheap of mangled ideas. There are moments where everything comes together perfectly, mirroring other experimental bands like EMPEROR's latter years. The riffs, and drum-patterns are unconventional, and captivating in small doses, but almost an hour of the same formula becomes trite and slightly irritating. A special mention must be given to the synths, which fail spectacularly at re-creating the mystique of BLUT AUS NORD, instead coming off as a second-grade cheesecake vampire-organ. Far too often the music fails to suck you in, and I find it extremely difficult to keep an interest after several sequential spins.
It's no mystery that REVERENCE are a band with the capacity for great musical accomplishments, and this albums proves that they're not afraid to take it up a notch. Unfortunately "Inactive Theocracy" suffers from being too one-dimensional, a fatal flaw for any "experimental" band. I'm sure some people will find a lot to enjoy in this twisted piece of metal, but for this particular reviewer it falls short of any considerable interest.
(Online May 24, 2010)