ReVampJust listen to Floor Jansen’s voice! Isn’t that just one of the many reasons we love Metal more than any other music? Metal musicians take things to the extreme, push the boundaries, usually ignore trends and generally like to be innovative. In pop music there is a horrible current trend of female singers sounding like whimsical little girls, with terrible note selection, piss-poor vocal technique and usually a god-awful bimbo image. If it’s not that, then it’s yet another X-F**ter brainwashed airhead yodelling away in a Whitney-wannabe style trying to emulate Leona Lewis – and everyone thinks they have a huge powerful diva-style vocal delivery! Bollocks! Don’t buy into that shite!

Nurse? I think it’s time for my medication…?

Ahem…Metal has Floor Jansen, WE have Floor Jansen, and she has a truly MASSIVE voice! She makes Leona and her ilk sound like Julian Clary singing a renaissance ballad (Also, I realize Floor Jansen couldn’t go on X-F**ter because her sheer vocal prowess would turn Cowell’s hair white – it’s natural colour – and he would wet his ludicrous trousers live on national telly…so it’s a Yes from me!). But Floor Jansen also has a multi-faceted voice too. It has so many qualities. And now that she has finished giving Nightwish fans a taste of what a proper replacement for Tarja would sound like, it’s time for her to unleash the 2nd instalment her post After Forever band Revamp.

Controversially (it seems), I found Revamp’s debut a little direction-less – like Floor was trying to prove a point. A sort of “Look at all the things I can do now that I’m free from the constraints of After Forever” (But with a Dutch accent of course). Don’t get me wrong, if there is a female vocal sound that works, she has a convincing stab at it somewhere on “Wildcard”, and of course nails it, but it just seems a little more unified and focused this time around. To me anyway…

Musically? “Wildcard” is aggressive, at times dark…and HEAVY! We are in no doubt from the first blast of pounding drums, inverted distorted chords and down-tuned bass that this is never going to be background material. I mean obviously, Floor’s voice doesn’t do “background”, but even before she sings there is a real fasten-seat-belts feel about “Wildcard”. The first two tracks are a good continuation of Floor’s previous outings really, a kind of After Forever at their heaviest, complete with additional grunts (provided by Epica’s Mark Jansen – he crops up again a few times on the album) and great choruses. After a gap of 3 years there was bound to be a little apprehension, but I’m happy to report that all is more than well! The vocals are mainly Floor’s classic power-style, but already a bit of soprano is unleashed, a style embroidered upon in more depth on ‘Precibus’. It’s piano led verses are really the first let-up in the onslaught and all expertly executed, with more explosive Tarja-style operatics over the heavier parts intermingled with Floor’s own style.

I realise at this point in the review that there’s very little to dislike on “Wildcard”, yet there’s also so much going on in every minute both vocally and musically, that it’s probably best just to point out a couple of highlights…or we’ll be here all day! Like for instance ‘Distorted Lullabies’, where Floor really reigns the power side in – a style I’ve not heard her do too often – and she comes across echoing a little of Sharon Den Adel in her prime. It’s a track that also smacks of Epica in arrangement and musical approach. It’s pretty much the most orchestral that Revamp get this time around and is an absolute opus. ‘Amendatory’ follows on, but it’s more based around a killer riff (being ultra-picky, maybe I’d have like a few more memorable riffs on the album) and is VERY Metal, with just a sprinkle of orchestration in the background. This mix and juxtaposition is toyed with to varying degrees throughout “Wildcard”. Another gem – ‘Misery’s No Crime’ – is a wade through the psyche on many musical, lyrical and vocal levels! I’m not sure how they have crammed so much into such a short time…can an epic be only 4 minutes long? It’s actually quite exhausting on first listen, but then becomes clearer and more defined with each successive play.

And I think that’s the cleverness of “Wildcard” really. There is a complexity to the songs that mean they won’t get tiresome any time soon – but there are enough little vocal hooks and melodies to snare you in immediately, enticing those further listens. “Wildcard” is catchy and dynamic, intense yet melodic. It’s aggressive yet sensitive and Floor’s vocal display on the whole album is stunning, admirably backed up by top quality musicians playing great songs. I love Metal, me…

(8.5/10  Andy Barker)