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Gig Review : The Raven Age Limelight 2 Belfast

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Tonight, in Belfast, sees the return of The Raven Age, currently touring this year’s album release ‘Blood Omen, for the first time since 2016. They have come a long way since the release of their eponymous 2014 EP. Clearly stints recently touring with legendary heavy metal giants Iron Maiden around the world have proven more than worthwhile.

The last time we saw them play the renowned capital city venue Limelight 2 it was empty, and tonight that is a different story, an army of fans have gathered and await the much-lauded quintet’s arrival onstage.

It doesn’t take long at all to warm the Belfast crowd up as they hit the stage at full pelt with opening song ‘Parasite’, roaring off the new release ‘Blood Omen’ with the dual guitars of recent addition Tommy Gentry and George Harris setting the tone for tonight’s heavy metal feast.

With the stage lighting going an electric blue we roar into ‘The Day the World Stood Still’ craned in from the ‘Conspiracy’ long-player which was released in 2017. The punchy riff and its seismic energies reverberate throughout. Matt James’ forceful vocals are backed up by Jai Patel’s substantial drumbeats whilst further character, and indeed depth, are provided via the rapidly burgeoning six-string partnering of Harris and Gentry.

“Good evening, Belfast. It’s great to be back!” cries James, furthering “We’ve missed this, let’s raise the roof!” Up next, their enthusiasm unabated ‘Forgive & Forget’ rolls straight into ‘Salem’s Fate’ with Matt Cox’s bass growling and rumbling to add real atmosphere to the song. Reminiscent in many ways of a certain Mr. Harris snr.

Jai Patel’s rapid drumbeat brings in ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’, Matt’s vocal is slow almost spoken is in direct contrast to the explosion forthcoming about him. The guitarists are all stood up on the risers; Tommy, leaning back, casually strums his charge as he eyes the audience whilst, on the opposite side of the stage George Harris’ lead break grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you in a vehement grasp.

Retaining the intensity, they rapidly move into the balladic ‘War in Heaven’ the penultimate track from ‘Blood Omen’ before manoeuvring right into ‘Seventh Heaven’, a choice cut from the ‘Conspiracy’ collective. Enthused it’s completely apparent that this Belfast crowd are right onside, loving and absorbing each passing moment. Enquiringly James screams, “Are we feeling alive?”, the raucous cheers confirms one and all most certainly are!

Following on the metalliferous juggernaut maintain its true course with the high intensity usherings of ‘Angel in Disgrace’. Lifted out of the environs of 2017’s ‘Darkness Will Rise’ this full-blooded track is a full-on drum assault with Harris aloft on the riser leading the clapping.

We are led by the hand to return to ‘Blood Omen’ with the melodic ‘Tears of Stone’; once again the twin guitars of Harris and Gentry stand out in crystalline tone while James, on vocal, sings it perfectly.

‘Serpents Tongue’ and ‘Grave Of The Fireflies’ follow suit with the crowd demonstrating their hunger for further delectations with impassioned response to the band’s despatch.

The final track of this emphatic return to Northern Ireland’s capital is ‘Fleur de Lis’, a live staple across many a tour. Buckle up because this is quick, the beats, the riffs, the lyrics are all or nothing. The Raven Age pummel your senses on the ropes and don’t let up. Their urgency is palpable even as they wind the set up to its climatic crescendo.

Tonight The Raven Age have brought their experience of the big stage to the small stage demonstrating their maturing confidence. With this performance tonight I encourage any metal fan to go and catch this phenomenon live. I promise you won’t regret it.

Taking time to savour the fruits of their evening’s labour the band pause to grab a deserved photo with the Limelight faithful before exiting stage right in the certain knowledge of a job thoroughly well done.

Review & Photography by MPM

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