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Ravenwiek - Barren Grounds

Barren Grounds
by David Hough at 07 July 2022, 11:18 PM

Barren Grounds” is the debut album from the Dutch epic black metal act, RAVENWIEK. Drawing inspiration from bands such as SUMMONING and GRIMA, RAVENWIEK set out to create an album. “Barren Grounds” is a concept album about one soul’s journey of loss, and with each track, this soul experiences one significant loss after another. Honestly, I’m at a loss when it comes to writing anything positive about this poor attempt at making music.

The first track, “A Forlorn Battle,” starts with a low rumbling that appears to be the sound of a battle unfolding. Unfortunately, this effect is too low in the mix to come off as anything more than overheard conversations at a coffee shop. Once that rumble has been established, the sound of bagpipes assaults the ears with an uninspired melody that lasts for two minutes before any vocals start. The vocals are raw, which wouldn’t be an issue if they were more than barely audible in the mix. Fortunately, the vocals are only present for about a minute before they revisit the trite bagpipe melody that was established earlier. After this melody drags on, we are treated to what sounds like a battle march on top of more muffled conversation.

The next song, “The Enchanted Forest of Khrabanas,” starts with an ambient passage that slowly builds for the first minute and a half, then gives way to distorted, waltzing carnival music that was most likely included to establish the enchanted nature of the forest. Shortly thereafter, the low-volume raspy singing enters the mix. That particular vocal passage is followed by another repetitive ambient interlude, then another raspy verse. That’s really all there is to this album, overpowering boring ambient music interspersed with short, barely audible singing.

The fourth track, “Under the Mourning Mountain,” is equally uninspired. A drab melody is established at the outset. This melody continues loudly over a muffled spoken passage, then abruptly switches to a violin-like synth sound that seems to be played over white noise for no reason at all. Vocals then come in quietly for a short while, only to be followed by more ambient nonsense, rinse, repeat, ad infinitum.

Two things that stick out like a sore thumb are the lack of blast beats and tremolo picking, two black metal staples. In fact, the only thing that qualifies this album as black metal is the raw, raspy vocal delivery. This album’s sole saving grace is the drum fill at the end of “Berserker,” signifying the album’s end. If you are looking for well-done epic black metal, I suggest you check out the acts that inspired this release, GRIMA and SUMMONING and skip “Barren Grounds” altogether.

Songwriting: 1
Musicianship: 1
Memorability: 1
Production: 1

0 Star Rating

1. A Forlorn Battle
2. The Enchanted Forest of Khrabanas
3. The Crossing of the Realms in Sorrow
4. Under the Mourning Mountain
5. Berserker
Ravenwiek — All Instruments and Vocals
Alex Loots — Guest vocals on “Under the Mourning Mountain” and “Berserker
Record Label: Independent


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