BLACK METAL | ATHENS/ GREECE
RELEASED VIA HELLS HEADBANGERS IN 2011
Ars longa, vita brevis, they say – or alternatively, life is invariably too short for the amount of music you’ve got available to listen to. While this is a universal problem for me, it’s never more of an issue than when I’m supposed to be writing reviews. Thus, while I’ll always give any album as many spins as it takes to write a fair and considered review, nothing makes me happier than a band who can tell me decisively what they’re about inside the first track.
Greece’s Ravencult, to their credit, achieve this very well. From the moment “Sacrilege of Death” fires up with a rattling, chainsaw roar of shredding guitars, you know exactly where you are with these guys. Ravencult are primitive but tuneful black metal, with a hefty speed/thrash influence. Their songwriting is simple but ferociously effective: sinister, ringing guitar lines are layered over a skeleton of bone-rattling beats and blasts, and the results adorned with enthusiastically-delivered snarling vocals and some very traditionalist death-darkness-and-Satan lyrics. Subtle as a brick to the head and assuredly nothing you haven’t heard before, but it’s all thoroughly enjoyable listening – I’m particularly fond of “Winds of Damnation”, with its slip-sliding, grinding slow midsection, and the punchy title track. I’d love a chance to see Ravencult live, as I reckon they’d be a perfect band to head bang yourself into oblivion to.
However, for any band the flip side of such a totally straightforward presentation is that what you gain in accessibility you may lose in replay potential, and Ravencult do risk falling into that trap. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with Morbid Blood, there’s also not necessarily anything, after that initial visceral rush on the first hearing, to make it an album that you’d automatically reach for in preference to any of a score of others that do the same thing equally well. Good, certainly, but never quite ascending to “great”; more than worth hearing, but praiseworthy for its competence, charm and integrity rather than for lasting brilliance. [7/10 – KIT RATHENAR]