A few years ago I happened across a really good album called Divided Kingdom by a band called Ravenface. Suitably impressed I hoped to see the live or release something else equally good as a follow-up. Typical of my luck, though, that they instead decided to go on hiatus!
Five years on and they’ve decided to dust off the cobwebs and return to the studio. Breathe Again is out at the end of this month and a couple of tracks have already surfaced. I dug back to the band’s first album, 2010’s This Is Annihilation, to get a real feel of how they’ve progressed. That first release was quite heavy, but with melodic breaks. Divided Kingdom definitely spreads its wings more over the territory of melodic metal and the band have gone further in that direction with Breathe Again.
There’s still that crunchy edge and heavy beat, but it’s been smoothed out and softened for this release. The opening, and title, track is as good an example as any with melody flowing throughout and clean vocals from beginning to end. There’s a very airy break around the halfway point. Musical, but many steps away from what has come on previous albums.
In fact, having listened through the album a few times, I’m pretty certain there are no vocals at all which could be classed as “harsh”, or even a bit throaty. While that may be jarring compared to their older material, it is a good five years or so since that came out. People change, and the music they produce has to as well otherwise you risk becoming stale.
When the resulting album contains tracks with an epic sound such as that found in “Colder”, casually dropped-in acoustic guitars (“The Line”), good use of keyboards throughout and songwriting that ensures you won’t get bored it then it’s well worth giving it a listen. Or two. Or three.
What’s undeniable is that there is great musicianship on here, including new guitarist Leah Woodward. The band have definitely changed, as has their “sound”. For those who liked the angry edge to their first album… you won’t find it here. Frankly, it’s a brave move to release something like Breathe Again given the heavier nature of the previous albums, but it’s paid off. Production is excellent and track after track just sounds huge. “In Time, In Sight” has just ended as I type these words, with its swelling conclusion, and then we’re dropped into the chaotic start to “Fighters”, a song released earlier this year.
I would definitely recommend existing fans check out Breathe Again… but more than I would were it more similar to their older material, I also advise newcomers to give it a listen. Definitely more “melodic hard rock” than the “melodic metal” of old, many may find this an easier listen. For my money, Divided Kingdom still tops it but on the other hand, I’m still listening to Breathe Again regularly.
Breathe Again is out on November 30th