THE RAVEN AGE - Conspiracy (Album)
In an age of increasingly specific genre definitions (progressive blackened death anyone?), it’s refreshing to find a band that doesn’t fit into one of the niche subgenres. THE RAVEN AGE just plays metal. Not ‘true metal’ or ‘power metal’ or even ‘metalcore’ - though they clearly take their cues from that genre - but simply metal music, and the more you think about it the more unique a proposition that is. The temptation is to call it good, old-fashioned metal music except this isn’t old-fashioned at all, it’s as modern sounding as you can possibly imagine.
Perhaps it’s the fact that they stick to clean vocals throughout, a rarity amongst the current mainstream metal acts, or the fact that ‘Conspiracy’ is such a precision-made album that makes it stand out from the pack but stand out it does. It’s easy to see how they have managed to procure so many quality support slots and garnered a sizeable fan base considering their relatively short existence.
You would struggle to call it original, there is little here that hasn’t been done before but the way the band meld various elements of metalcore, thrash, alt-rock and even some hints of more traditional metal is impressive and unique. More importantly the songs are excellent, the triumvirate of ‘Fleur de Lis’, ‘The Day the World Stood Still’ and ‘Stigmata’ are all ready-made stadium fillers and if you can’t imagine waving your lighter/iPhone (delete as appropriate for your generation) in the air during ‘The Face That Launched a Thousand Ships’ then I feel for you, I really do. The songs have a consistency throughout, both in terms of quality and style, but offer enough variance to keep them all distinct.
There are crowd-pleasing breakdowns aplenty, vocals that soar – Matt James possesses a wonderfully expressive voice - there are riffs and beats that can batter and bruise, moments of delicacy and moments of darkness. A little something for everyone then. Even a couple of horns aloft solos for those who want them. In fact, if anything, there’s a little too much here. It’s difficult to know what they could trim but the album feels like it has a few too many songs. One or two less would leave the listener gasping for more, but as it is, ‘Conspiracy’ keeps going until you feel a little bloated, like when you just can’t resist that extra roast potato at Christmas. It feels good, but you know you don’t really need it.
Like all bands that become popular THE RAVEN AGE will probably polarise opinion. For some, they will be too glossy, too populist but in an era where it is often asked where the next festival headliners are going to come from we would be foolish to ignore a band who have both the sound and the songcraft to genuinely feel like they could play on the biggest stages.
The album feels like another step forward towards that goal, a real push for the big time. And as rock music slowly starts to get a foothold back in the mainstream who knows how far this band could go? Metal’s next heroes could already be among us.
Bloom of the Poison Seed
Betrayal of the Mind
Fleur de Lis
The Day the World Stood Still
The Face that Launched a Thousand Ships
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Grave of the Fireflies
The Raven Age are:
Matt James – Vocals
George Harris – Guitar
Tony Maue – Guitar
Matt Cox – Bass
Jai Patel - Drums
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