Reviewed by Mike Paradine
Band: Raven Lord
Album: Descent to the Underworld
Record Company: Mausoleum Records
Released date, February 1, 2013
1) The Rebel
2) Atilla the Hun
3) Let the Show Go On
4) Seal of the Cross
5) Promised Land
6) Settle the Score
7) Black Friar
8) World Out of Steel
10) Metal Nights
11) Sun God
I’ve been anxiously waiting to hear the full length album of Raven Lord since I was given a snippet of one of their songs from Axel Wiesenauer over at Rock n Growl Promotions a few months back. Upon immediately hearing the rough tone of vocalist, Csaba Zvekan, I was very intrigued what the band had to offer. How pleased I was when the chance came to review their full length album, “Descent to the Underworld”.
The first song, “The Rebel” starts off with an even keel tempo which the keyboards set the atmosphere for the rest of the song. Double bass drums follow with some not over the top shredding. The vocal attack stands above the rest but some cool guitar riffs bring the song to life. When Csaba goes for the high notes and gives some sustain to them, he reminds me of Graham Bonnet. Good catchy chorus and the album starts off on the right foot.
“Atilla the Hun” brings up the rear with some hard hitting drum work and guitar shredding right off the bat. The vocal style here brings more of a 3 Inches of Blood mixed in with Halfords “Painkiller” for pure metal ecstasy. Instead of the basic shredding guitar solo as heard in the first song, there is an interesting mixture of styles of shred and traditional, which makes it a lot better than the previous effort. Very cool! The keyboards play only a part to fill in the background which to me, softens the song around the edges and isn’t needed. Without it, the song would have sounded that much harder.
Their 3rd song has the same feeling as the first, mid tempo but with a touch of touch of Middle Eastern flare. “Let the Show Go On” showcases vocals that are brought down to an almost normal pitch but with enough bite to keep the relationship going with the preceding songs. The guitar solo once again combines the shredding with the traditional style playing which gives fans of both genres something to cheer about. It’s a nice touch that you don’t hear much, if at any at all. Another good solid, metal song with easy listening to the chorus and good sustaining high notes (ala Graham Bonnet again), just right up my alley.
And the tank keeps running along with “Seal of the Cross”. A solid, march along type metal song that immediately has your head banging to the beat, right from the beginning. Another well crafted and well performed guitar solo that has an underlining Eddie Van Halen spirit that haunts the start of the lead. Vocals are similar to “Let the Show Go On” but with less shine. Keyboards once again are unnecessary.
“Promised Land” more frenzied shredding leads break out the song leading into some cool melodic riffs. After hearing the keyboards the last couple songs, they’re getting on my nerves. They absolutely bring nothing to these songs. In fact, as I stated before, they soften the edges of an otherwise good hard sounding tone. Let the guitars attack the song with no inference, which unfortunately they do. It’s a good song but I’m starting to hear some repetitiveness.
Ok we’re half way through the album and that brings us to “Settle the Score”. The vocal style goes from a more melodic manner to that with more roughness to the banshee screaming madman we heard on the second song. Using all three different styles really brings this song to the albums high glory. After hearing his “normal” voice, I would have liked to hear more of that on some other songs. Out of the material so far, I would consider this song, the most closely associated toward a commercial sound. Not that I mean it would belong on the radio, not by a long shot, but one that would have greater appeal to the masses.
No more keyboards please!!!! But that’s what we have in “Black Friar”, an instant head banging tune accented by aggressive vocals from a lower register to an adrenaline filled mid range singing. One of the most dramatic and emotional sung songs so far on this album. The guitar solo starts off with the basic shredding that we’ve heard a thousand times before but metamorphs into some melodic leads that fits more in tune with the song and which should of stayed on that path though out.
To appeal to the basic instincts of every metal fan, the band has written, “World Out of Steel”. Repeating the line of “City of Metal” through out the chorus, one wonders why the song wasn’t titled that way. Not a bad song but it stands in the shadow of Primal Fears not so strong tunes. Did I mention more uneventful keyboards?
No, no, no!!!!! Keyboards ruin this great sounding intro to the song “Revelation”. On this number we are hearing a lot of the same vocal patterns that we’ve heard a lot before in the early stages of this album. A lot more guitar leads lean toward the shredding approach which just doesn’t compliment or add to the song. A lot more energy is put into this one but I also think they use the higher falsetto a bit too much. Along with the shredding, it becomes annoying which is a shame because here we have a good energized song.
The high falsetto persists on “Metal Nights” so much so that it seems to be a continuation of “Revelations” but works very well here. Switching back and forth between that style and his clean, normal vocal range, the song can breathe. The contrast works and compliments each other. The bad part is that the chorus is repeated way too often.
Our last song “Sun God” reminds one of Primal Fear before the vocals come stinging in. Vocals provide a good texture against the slower paced rhythm and fits will with the setting as does the guitars which add to the song. Very cool, mid-eastern vibe going on with this one. Keyboards play a more important part as it sets the feeling or atmosphere here. A good song to end the album.
I have to admit, I’m not a fan of shredding guitars. To me, it disconnects the listener from the rest of the song. Where your normal leads have more feeling and interweave with the rest of the music, that guitar style is more of a “look what I can do” attitude. But with Raven Lord, Stefan Lindholm mixes the two styles into something enjoyable to listen to. I can see this is going to be a staple in the bands complete sound. Vocally with Csaba, the band can explore many avenues of metal. On this album we can hear three styles of singing and he does them well. Yes, he does over do the screaming part in some places but he can hit those notes with conviction and power. Some songs I wish he used his clean approach more often. Some repetitiveness can heard throughout the album and none of the songs jump off as being an instant “classic”, but this band can deliver the goods. Using “Descent to the Underworld” as a springboard, I see a lot of good things coming from this band in the future…