Wild Card - REVAMP

Floor Jansen is a proven dynamo and it's a lock she will emerge as a premiere figurehead in this scene. Now taking over for Anette Olzon on the NIGHTWISH tour, the former vocalist for AFTER FOREVER, MAYAN, STAR ONE and AYREON makes a second run with her agro-Goth metal ensemble REVAMP.

By attrition you almost detect something huge on the horizon for Floor Jansen's career when you find Devin Townsend, EPICA's Mark Jansen, STREAM OF PASSION's Marcela Bovio and TEXTURES' Daniel de Jongh dropping by with some vocal measures on REVAMP's sophomore effort, "Wild Card". Jansen's band, consisting of Arjan Rijnen and Jord Otto (guitars), bassist Henk Vonk (with added bass parts by STREAM OF PASSION's Johan van Stratum, who stepped in to help finish the album), drummer Matthias Landes and keyboardist Ruben Wijga are as talented as the NIGHTWISH bunch, which will give fans of this stuff more than they can chew on. The difference between REVAMP and NIGHTWISH is the former is much heavier and more concentrated upon agro crunch modes setting up their explosive choruses.

Produced by her fellow AFTER FOREVER alum Joost van den Broek, "Wild Card" is set to showcase and the album's finish is quite impressive. "Wild Card"'s choruses are powerful and sublime, designed to capitalize with maximum impact after most of the songs' verses putter about or riff in careful, scaled-back strides. The scheme is repeated more than frequently, and herein lies the only real problem with "Wild Card", its predictability. "I Can Become", "Amendatory", "Sins", "Wolf and Dog", "Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: On the Sideline" and "Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: The Limbic System" are all delivered in the same mode. Even the title track suffers the same structuring impasse, albeit Floor Jansen rescues it for the most part with a knockout reach into her guts on the choruses. Floor's operatic flair on "Precibus" is divine and the choral accompaniment is a smart maneuver, even as the song assumes a tempered rock crawl that increases in volume.

With the exception of "Nothing" and "Distorted Lullabies", which retain their delicate verse premises on the crests of gorgeous piano swirls (all in lieu of their thunderous choruses and outros), most of the album overplays its hand. "Distorted Lullabies", however, is alluring in its sensuousness and Floor Jansen is at her most seductive here. When Matthias Landes rockets the band through its stepped-up choruses, REVAMP's repetitive methodology works like a charm, particularly with the shivery choral section and gusting guitar solo.

Interrelated with the prelude heading "Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown" between the first, second and sixth songs, each one is tailored with forceful, jumpy intros that immediately settle into jagged scrapes from the front line before erupting into orgasmic choruses, for which Floor Jansen pulls Valhalla itself out of her lungs. Of the three, "Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: The Limbic System" is the weakest and perhaps the only reserved chorus section this album bears.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, "Anatomy of a Nervous Breakdown: Neurasthenia" is one of the album's hallmark compositions with Devin Townsend adding a demented growling element in his inimitable manner. While the whole beauty and the beast ploy in goth and symphonic metal appearing in sprinkles throughout "Wild Card" has been played to death, Townsend and Floor Jansen are amazing together and the choruses on "Neurasthenia" border on cataclysmic. Mark Jansen uglies up the already moody "Misery's No Crime", made even more so with its haunted choral booms. Listen for Floor Jansen pulling off a manic Danny Elfman moment on one of "Misery's No Crime"'s bridges. Stepping out of the album's primary arrangement patterns, the entirety of "Misery" is Elfman-esque.

Everything about "Wild Card" is designed to be major league and for certain, this will be the official stamp upon Floor Jansen's ticket into the metal mainstream which NIGHTWISH has placed into her hand. Much of "Wild Card" is filled with spectacle, grace and professionalism. However, the next REVAMP album needs to think outside the box before turning itself into a one trick pony.

There's plenty to admire and inhale from this group that does push everything they have within them. Endpoint, though: Floor, dispense with the middle fingers, if you please. Nobody's done it with more conviction than Johnny Cash and such undermining platitudes is beneath you at this point.

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