British metalcore act The Raven Age have been on a meteoric trajectory as of late. With a solid debut record in ‘Darkness Will Rise’ and bagging support slots to the likes of Tremonti and Iron Maiden, things were looking rosy for the Raven camp.
However, life isn’t always easy, and the band soon found themselves without a vocalist after Michael Burrough‘s acrimonious departure.
Second album ‘Conspiracy’ therefore marks a pivotal point in time for the band. After the subtle and fairly regal tones of the opening interlude, ‘Bloom Of The Poison Seed’, the record gets into full swing quickly and any lingering doubts are soon expunged.
Harris has often cited the mid 2000s metalcore revolution as the primary source of his band, and it’s clearly felt as first track proper ‘Betrayal Of The Mind’ has an extremely strong lineage to Bullet For My Valentine running through it, whilst ‘Fleur De Lis’ is a cracking song and one of the highlights on the album. Driving guitars steamroll the track into life, and there’s great interplay between pinch harmonic effects and an extraordinary vocal delivery from new boy Matt James, delivered in a real classic metal vein.
The band do tend to weigh on the emotive heartstrings a little too often at points, with tracks such as ‘The Day The World Stood Still’ and ‘Seventh Heaven’ becoming slightly saccharine after repeated listens, although there are sections that produce enough atmosphere and euphoric tendencies to stop these songs completely tainting the record.
‘Stigmata’ invokes the very best of Killswitch Engage, with a galloping guitar riff right out of the blocks coupled with a spiralling guitar solo to boot. The thrash metal-induced pace rides into broken down pre-chorus sections adding to the overall heaviness, before going full-on stripped back in an acoustic fashion then ramping the tension back up for the finale.
The record ends with a bit of whimper in terms of quality, but there’s still time for ‘Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier’, another outstanding example of the quality on show, to get those heads banging showcasing interesting riffs with an emotionally delivered chorus from James. Again, similar in style to the aforementioned ‘Stigmata’, there’s decent originality on show and it flits between full-throttled riffage and a gentle acoustic-led atmosphere.
The Raven Age are heading out with Iron Maiden again as direct support on their ‘Legacy Of The Beast’ tour in North and South America, and you can really see why from this record. With songs that are designed to be played in arenas and stadiums, along with soaring guitar melodies and a new vocalist that leans closer to classic metal material, be prepared to see that meteoric trajectory continue for the foreseeable future.
After getting into alternative music during the mid 90s with the rise of nu-metal and pop-punk, I’ve gradually spread my interests far and wide and have a real love for metalcore, prog metal and tech metal. Amongst other things, I am a husband, father of two amazing kids, heavy metal DJ, and video game/book/nerd enthusiast!