Reviver—one of Salt Lake City’s newest and more compelling bands—are using the name as their debut album and attempting to turn the word’s definition inside out.
“This whole record is about not cutting yourself short,” says vocalist Matt Mascarenas. “We wanted to make it entertaining and worthwhile, and at the same time, we wanted to call people out and tell them, ‘This is what you said and now we want you to follow through.’”
It’s a bold statement, but the band clearly has a plan—and the heart to back it up. Plus, Reviver’s decision to release their debut just 10 months after forming comes with a few ulterior motives.
“It’s also a stepping stone for us to not work any more shitty jobs,” says Mascarenas.
The members of Reviver are all relatively young, but Mascarenas, bassist Chase Griffis and guitarists Sam Richards and Donny Miller are already seasoned veterans of the Salt Lake City music scene. They spent the last few years playing in and touring with some of SLC’s hardcore and metal heavyweights including Cherem, Cool Your Jets and Clifton [Disclosure: this writer was a member of Cherem and Cool Your Jets]. Drummer Brian Fell is the lone rookie when it comes to touring, but he’s about to get a crash course in life on the road as Reviver set their sights on touring as much as possible while the momentum is going strong and before any of them begin to bear the burden of real-life things—like working.
“We’re not planning on making any money because gas is so ridiculous,” Mascarenas says of the group’s 10-day outing. “We’re keeping all the shows as close together as possible.”
Reviver formed like most great bands do—almost by mistake. Mascarenas and Fell were playing in a down-tempo metal band to pass time between Cool Your Jets tours when, one day, they threw everything out in favor of the more urgent, punk/hardcore style the two grew up listening to. Piece by piece, the band filled out, Mascarenas gave up guitar duties to focus on singing, and an EP was recorded all in the span of a couple months. While the band was showing the finished product off to a few labels, the song ideas kept coming, and the band just kept writing.
Reviver had a few different offers on the table but ultimately chose to sign with local label Exigent Records, home to a diverse roster of great Salt Lake City bands including Gaza, Loom, Glacial and Accidente.
“Colby [Houghton, Exigent Records Owner] wanted to put it out, and his goals were just higher,” Richards says.
With a solid commitment from Exigent, Reviver scrapped the already-finished EP in favor of recording a full-length. The waiting game gave the band time to write new and better material they were itching to record and share with the world.
Versificator hit streets earlier this month, and it’s packed full of fist-pumping anthems and the kind of songs that just beg for stage dives and mic grabs. It calls to mind a mix of the melodic hardcore perfected by Comeback Kid and the thrash punk-metal that Propagandhi played so well. The band pours emotion into every note they play, and Mascarenas’ conviction and honesty comes through in lyrics that are angry and sincere at the same time. Lines like “I wish I was of some importance/Or I had something more to say/Instead I lived for nothing greater/Than renouncing every day” give a little insight into how Reviver are not quite a band with a clear-cut message, but a band with something to say nonetheless.
Reviver are on their way to big things, with a few quick summer tours lined up and a long one looming on the horizon for the fall. While Fell will be learning the touring ropes, he won’t be alone as far as first timers go, albeit in a slightly different way—this will be the first tour that Mascarenas will be front and center at all times. In his earlier bands, he’s been strictly a guitarist but with Reviver, he’s working on a learning curve of his own, finding out the hard way that being the frontman isn’t all fun and games.
“You have to give it your all,” he says. “All the time. No matter what. It’s exhausting.”
It’s comforting to know that a band like Reviver exists in world where everything artistic is losing originality more and more each day. It’s albums like Versificator that give hope to the future of music and make sure that the Orwellian society stays at least a few more years out of sight.
REVIVER Artopia, 60 E. Exchange Place, Friday July 18, 9 p.m.