Album review: The Raven Age – Exile
Exile sounds very much like a lockdown album. Not only because a lot of bands have been releasing covers and reworkings of their own songs during the past year, but in its dark, reflective demeanour.
Opener No Man’s Land is a case in point, reflecting the ennui and frustration of the times. ‘Tell me what it must be like to ascend to the skies / They’ve clipped my wings, now I cannot fly’ laments vocalist Matt James on what is the first of two new songs on the album. The Tower Of London ravens the band take their name from might express the same sentiments, but at least the song soars, with a combination of intricate acoustic and swells of electrified hard rock.
Wait For Me follows in a similar vein, dealing with themes of loss and return, while the bulk of Exile consists of acoustic versions of songs culled mainly from last studio album proper Conspiracy. It works spectacularly well on Grave of the Fireflies – shortened to Fireflies here – and the tale of war and displacement sounds particularly poignant given a pared down treatment. Hold High the Fleur de Lis is another high point, as some would already know from the piano-led alternate version of Fleur de Lis previously released as a bonus track.
It finishes with a fistful of live tracks, which crackle with energy but sound a little superfluous and derail the atmosphere they’ve carefully set up. All in all though, this is a fine stop-gap until the next album proper and showcases a different side to one of the UK’s rising metal stars.
For Fans Of: Alter Bridge, Bury Tomorrow, Iron Maiden
Exile is out now via EX1 Records.
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