Rev Theory are not a thinking man’s band. That’s not an insult: As they demonstrate on Light It Up, this New York City hard rock quintet specialize in songs that bypass the brain and go right for the gut. Light It Up is unabashedly high-adrenaline rock music, unsubtle and meant for the largest stereo speakers available. And it’s a lot of fun.
Songs for Every Radio Playlist
On Light It Up, the band – singer Rich Luzzi, drummer Dave Agoglia, guitarists Julien Jorgensen and Rikki Lixx, and bassist Matt McCloskey – approach each track as an opportunity to tackle a specific type of rock song. “Hell Yeah” is a blast of classic stadium rock, the sort of exultant tune you hear in sports highlight montages or videogames, while “Broken Bones” is a sharply constructed acoustic ballad, rich in vulnerability and melodic thrust. Haters could accuse Rev Theory (previously known as Revelation Theory) of manufacturing cookie-cutter songs to fit different radio playlists, but when the results are so dynamic, such complaints seem petty. Besides, why whine when Light It Up is such a consistent aural delight?
Crank It Up
Beyond the tight songwriting, Light It Up offers a feast of superb production. The album simply sounds amazing no matter what system you’re using to hear it. A quick look at the credits explains Light It Up’s stellar sonics – producer Brian Howes has worked with Daughtry and Puddle of Mudd, and producer Josh Abraham has assisted on albums from Linkin Park and Staind. Of course, experienced studio hands don’t guarantee an enjoyable listening experience, which suggests that maybe the band’s talent has a little something to do with it, too.
Looking for Good Times ... and for Love
Thematically, Rev Theory pursue the same paradoxical lyrical interests as 99% of other rock bands: the joy of hot chicks who dig a good time, and the difficulties of finding that one true love. Light It Up breaks down these two themes into easily discernible categories: The fast songs are about good times, while the slower songs are about thwarted love. Frontman Rich Luzzi displays an impressive vocal flexibility, able to convey pathos in the piano-driven ballad “You’re the One” and then switch to the snarling bad-girl naughtiness of the hard-riffing “Favorite Disease.” Even when the construction of the songs is rather obvious – all the ballads, for instance, segue perfectly from hushed verses into propulsive choruses – the band’s enthusiasm for rock music’s liberating power is contagious.
Admittedly, Light It Up frontloads the best tracks near the beginning, leaving weaker songs for the album’s second half. But at only 10 songs long, the album doesn’t wear out its welcome like so many overstuffed records do. Above all, Light It Up means to embrace the reckless abandon that the best rock ‘n’ roll offers. “Just kill the headlights/And turn the radio up,” Luzzi demands during the thrill-seeking rocker “Kill the Headlights,” guitars soloing wildly in the background. You should take him up on the offer.
Release date – June 10, 2008