The Raven Age have had quite the journey up until now. They went from touring with Delain and Steve Harris’ British Lion, to arenas with Iron Maiden, a slot at Bloodstock 2016, and large indoor venues as support to Anthrax on their first UK tour in a decade. We talked to guitarist and songwriter George Harris (yes, he’s related, in case you’ve been under some kind of rock for the last five years) in Glasgow recently and he’s really happy with Darkness Will Rise, the band’s debut album following on from their self-titled EP. And he should be.
Darkness Will Rise includes all of the EP tracks, though they’ve been partially re-recorded, remastered and remixed so they fit in with the other songs. Harris also changed his preference in guitars between recording the EP and the album, so those tones will be a bit different for those familiar with this first release.
The Raven Age are a band that can happily be described as “metal”. There’s no point in trying to pigeonhole them any further. There are vague elements of metalcore or post-metal, but they’re mere dalliances. At heart, this is a group of lads playing simple modern heavy metal and that is absolutely fine with us.
After the brief and gentle opening of the title track, we’re into the meat. The tracks are pretty much all five to six minutes long (a couple are noticeably lengthier) so this isn’t a collection of quick hits, they’re metallic meals you can really get your teeth into. The Raven Age have opted to keep things simple, making the whole album easy to get into but hard to let go on. Singer Michael Burrough’s vocals are crystal clear throughout, while the instruments attack the ears as one. Matt Cox’s bass is pleasantly easy to hear in the mix, adding structure to Jai Patel’s drumming while the twin guitars of Harris and Dan Wright carry rhythm while occasionally throw up a brief lead solo.
One of the more epic tracks is “Salem’s Fate” which the band picked to release as a single / video recently. It’s a great choice as it does showcase pretty much all of their current sounds and despite its length doesn’t seem to drag when played live, either. It’s got melodic sections, soaring guitars, and a cracking heavy headbanger of a section around the five-minute mark.
Other highlights are “Trapped Within the Shadows”, with its emotive emo-esque tones; “Angel of Disgrace” for its fast-paced drums which just seem to melt away into an incredibly airy pre-chorus; and rhythm-led “Age of the Raven” which demands that fists be punched in the air.
I’ve really enjoyed having an early listen to this album and I’m sure it’s going to sit on my phone/mp3 playlist for some time to come. A well-crafted, enjoyable lump of quality modern heavy metal.
Darkness Will Rise is out on March 17th