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Raven Lord - Down the Wasteland

Raven Lord
Down the Wasteland
by Anna Chase at 06 March 2017, 2:43 AM

RAVEN LORD, founded in 2011, is a group that truly is the epitome of Classic, Screaming Heavy Metal. Lead singer Csaba Zvekan is known for his vocals in both EXORCISM and KILLING MACHINE, the two bands he was a member of before forming his current gig. RAVEN LORD’s first album, “Descent to the Underworld” (2013), is a collection of precise and sweeping guitar licks overlaid with Zvekan’s powerful voice, truly a masterpiece. “The Rebel”, one of my personal favorites, is a defiant and energetic battle anthem that would make any metal fan head bang. Joe Stump absolutely rips through Yngwie Malmsteen-esque riffs for nearly the entire album, an impressive feat. I was doubtful that their second album would surpass my glowing opinion of the first, however, I was wrong.

Down the Wasteland” opened with an explosion of strength and sheer heaviness in “Hail to the Gods.” Zvekan’s vocal range never ceases to amaze me, and as he transitioned from a Rob Halford-like shrieking tremolo to a clean tenor, it became clear that his range was, to date, one of the most impressive I have heard, rivaling only perhaps by Dani Filth (CRADLE OF FILTH) or Mike Patton (FAITH NO MORE). The stuttering guitar riffs of “Medusa the Reaper” instantly made the song one of my personal favorites on the album. The contrast between the slowed-down chorus, which showcased Zvekan’s voice yet again, and the fills were tremendous. Karafotis and Stump layered their riffs to provide a chugging, blistering backdrop over the drums. Stump’s solo is the textbook example of speed metal, and he rages through it flawlessly. “New Generation” is a politically-charged track (can we say Dave Mustaine, our favorite anarchist?) and, while the rhythm sometimes sounds similar to that of the previous track, the pause in the riff during the middle provides a much-needed palette cleanser from the constant barrage of concentrated metal. “Down the Wasteland,” the album’s title track, boasts that it has “metal in its veins.” That’s an understatement, for the most part, the album is a prime example of sheer power and energy. However, I wasn’t thoroughly convinced that this track stood out enough from the others to be awarded its position as the namesake of the album. The riffs and background rhythm, along with the long solo, were a bit underwhelming.

However, RAVEN LORD started back to life with the next song, “Coming Home.” The liquid guitar riffs and pure vitality conveyed by the combination of Zvekan’s vocals and the insanity of the solos made me sit back in my seat. I think this song may be the strongest on the whole album, since it showcases the much-needed versatility in speed, rhythm, and singing that sometimes the songs seem to lack. Though the band endeavored to end the album with a bang, I would have to say “Touch the Sky” was one of my least favorites on the album. The riffs were nowhere near as thrilling and complex as previous others, and the lyrics seemed clichéd (“fighting dragons”? How Power Metal.) However, I did enjoy the effect of Zvekan’s layered vocals, which added a depth to the song. I was also rather pleased to hear more of his natural singing voice and not the screaming, while I enjoy some good old-fashioned metal shrieks as much as the next person, I think they shouldn’t be overused in an album and should be saved to emphasize a select portion of a song.

Overall, though, I truly enjoyed “Down the Wasteland”. RAVEN LORD is a powerhouse of traditional metal riffs, and with countless years of experience, their talent shines through. I could listen to Stump shredding for years and never get tired, I’m not exaggerating when I say his solos are truly on Malmsteen’s level. Though it’s hard to revive traditional Heavy Metal when the classic riffs have all been done before, I’m not going to deny that “Down the Wasteland” is a potent and dynamic album that tears through complicated solos with ease and traverses octaves like it’s no big deal. Despite some minor weaknesses, in my opinion this album is definitely worth a listen, if only just to experience Zvekan’s range and Stump’s shredding.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 5.5
Memorability: 7
Production: 8

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Hail to the Gods
2. Medusa the Reaper
3. New Generation
4. Down the Wasteland
5. Coming Home
6. Last Man Standing
7. Against the Wind
8. Touch the Sky
9. Gathering Stones
Lineup:
Csaba Zvekan- Lead vocals
Joe Stump- Lead guitar
George Karafotis- Guitar
Lucio Manca- Bass guitar
Garry King- Drums
Record Label: Dream Records
     


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Edited 31 October 2020
 

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