Album review: The Raven Age – Blood Omen

Raging UK metal quintet The Raven Age get tight as hell and impressively melodic on fat-free third album…

Album review: The Raven Age – Blood Omen
Steve Beebee

There is much to be said for sticking to your guns. When a band as prolific as Avenged Sevenfold opt to bamboozle half their fans by releasing largely unrecognisable new music, it’s good to have a solid bedrock to fall back on. The third album from The Raven Age provide exactly that.

That said, Blood Omen isn’t simply a rehash of this masterfully tight metal band’s first two releases. It forges ahead, introducing better melodies, finer songs, and more than anything, a real sense of emotion.

This taut, muscular album comprises just eight tracks plus an extended intro, and it opens with the type of fiery guitar licks you might expect from Judas Priest before mutating quickly into Parasite’s tuneful melodic metal. You think the pre-chorus is enough, but that’s just a warm-up for the song’s main event. Second track Serpent’s Tongue is even better – the best hook on the album addresses misinformation, a symptom of modern life that's difficult to disengage from.

The Raven Age quickly present their armament and continue to fire in similar fashion. Forgive And Forget sees trad metal collide with modern metal nuance, like Architects graduating from an Iron Maiden boot camp. It’s hardly surprising, given the band’s relative youth and the fact that guitarist George Harris’ dad is Maiden mastermind Steve.

While more experimentation would have been welcome, the album seems to be about redemption, using past lessons to smooth future paths. The shape-shifting War In Heaven is a fine example, singer Matt James roaring about returning from the gates of hell, drums and guitars beating an enervating path from the underworld to what sounds engagingly like final victory.

The Raven Age may be somewhat risk-averse, but in a world where so many are losing their heads entirely, theirs is a resolute and satisfyingly heavy homecoming.

Verdict: 4/5

For fans of: Killswitch Engage, Tremonti, Bullet For My Valentine

Blood Omen is released on July 7 via Music For Nations

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