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Album Review : The Raven Age – Blood Omen

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Review by Ritchie Birnie for MPM

Album number three is a Beast and is set to send the band flying to new heights.

The English rockers are just about to kick off as openers for Iron Maiden as they hit the UK this week and no matter how many people who bitch and moan about getting preferential treatment due to Daddy just happening to be a bass God but this album is going to change a lot of minds as I suspect the live shows will too.

I have been a Maiden fan since 1980 and I have seen the various children rolled out on tours but for me The Raven Age are the real deal. Excellent songs, brilliant musicianship and a band that I would enjoy no matter who or what loins they were conjured up from.

I first saw the band like many I suspect on the Book of Souls tour and they were instantly taken under my wing and although seeing them on a big stage was great I was far happier with the smaller, sweatier venue on their own tour.

There is no doubt the boys have been helped pushed by Maiden, Anthrax, Tremonti and Killswitch Engage tours but talent is talent and they would have shone through anyway. Their music is definitely of the here and now and they have a sound that is blowing up right now and blood Omen is going to set a fire under them that cannot be ignored.

The album opens with “Changing of the Guard” and a very atmospheric number consisting of strings, piano and Spanish guitar. This is a perfect light to the shade of second track “Parasite” which means some serious metal business. The dual guitar attack is ferocious and does not let up for the whole of the album. This is melodic, speed metal on crack, it throws in nu metal, it throws Malmsteen at you(without his attitude) and Matt James sounds incredible.

The rip roaring speed continues on “Serpents Tongue” with a beautiful chugging riff that is like the backward and forwards motion of a saw slicing through your neck as you bang your brains to the relentless beat. You get some well place guttural vocals to keep that 2000s vibe alive and kicking.

We finally get respite with the intro of “Essence of Time” as Matt gets as close as these boys will to a ballad before going for the throat. As with many newer bands there are some backing tapes but this is purely to build the wall of sound and the atmosphere and it does a hell of a job on this number.

Mmmmm, a Harris, a song about a historical figure, it had to happen and just Like Steve’s lengthier numbers this is a monster of a song. Matt opens with a gentle lull and then shit goes crazy…a bit like “Nostradamus” life. This song bends and twists, it rises and falls and this is one of the best songs I have heard this year…it is blistering.

“Forgive & Forget” is a song more in a straight forward metal vein. Simple, powerful and instantly becomes an ear-worm burrowing into your skull and get the lyric sheet out for this so you time those screaming vocals perfectly.

The five piece drop back to a beautifully atmospheric start on “The Journey”. The guitar and piano work alongside Matt’s melodic vocals show that this band are not one dimensional and the song raises to the heights of a nu metal ballad of epic proportions.

“War in Heaven” continues the themes already set in place on this album and previous as it seeks to add more meat to the bones of their catalogue and another page turned in their history and it leads into the seriously powerful album closer of “Tears of Stone” and this has a Russian feel amongst the brutal guitars, bass and drums. Individually all instruments are incredible, the sound built up is huge but there is no overpowering of each other which I am sure Producer Matt Hyde had a lot to do with as it is a masterpiece of a song and an album.

If you loved The Raven Age already be prepared to have your expectations smashed. If you have not heard of them before get that sorted ASAP and there is no better place to start than with Blood Omen.

This is one hell of an album, it is straight into my top three of 2023 and that is with just a few plays under my belt. It wipes the floor with “Darkness Will Rise” and “Conspiracy”. The sound is so much bigger, The addition of the string quartet is stunning and works with perfect balance and grace.

Blood Omen is heavier, it is lighter, it is more ferocious, more rounded and pound for pound one of the best metal albums I have heard from a young band in a long time. These five lads should be very proud of this as they have outdone themselves. Just sit back guys and bathe in the glories that are coming your way.

Blood Omen is available to pre-order here and arrives on several formats including standard transparent red vinyl, standard jewel case CD, deluxe hardcover CD with exclusive artwork and a deluxe LP version pressed on black and red splatter vinyl, housed in gatefold packaging, complete with additional and exclusive artwork.
Exclusive album merchandise is also available to purchase alongside album formats and concert tickets through the band’s official store – https://www.theravenage.com/

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