THIS WEEK I’M LISTENING TO...THE RAVEN AGE Exile (EX1 Records)
Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and as UK melodic metal band The Raven Age had been stymied by lockdown they had to find another route to maintain the momentum generated by their previous two albums, 2017’s ‘Darkness Will Rise’ and ‘Conspiracy’ (2019). Their collective solution is ‘Exile’, an eleven-track hour-long CD or download collection designed to keep things ticking over. More than just a stopgap release or knock-off compilation though, ‘Exile’ showcases the five-piece in an entirely different light by offering up seven largely acoustic songs – two new; the other five being clever reworkings of older material – followed by four blistering cuts drawn from various live shows across the globe.
The main focus will falls inevitably on the wholly new material, and both ‘No Man’s Land’ and ‘Wait For Me’ deftly illustrate that Messrs James, Harris, Maue, Cox and Patel know how to craft wholly engaging songs with both heart and soul. And ‘Wait For Me’ in particular (check out the video below) is a great showcase for Matt James’ wonderfully impassioned voice. Following the newbies comes the clutch of reworked older material, all of which have been renamed with titles that nod towards the originals. If I had to pick a personal favourite I’d go for the lengthy and expressive ‘Fireflies’, but the others – ‘As The World Stood Still’, ‘A Look Behind The Mask’, ‘Dying Embers’ and ‘Hold High The Fleur De Lis’ (you can work them out yourself!) – are equally as inventive and attractive.
photo by John McMurtrie
The live portion of the album sees The Raven Age perhaps back on more familiar territory, fully plugged in and pumped up and serving up a quartet of chest-beating crowd-pleasers. High-profile gigs on big stages supporting big names have imbued the band with confidence beyond measure, as this four-track blast ably demonstrates. Consisting of ‘Seventh Heaven’ (recorded live in Santiago), ‘Angel In Disgrace’ (Los Angeles), ‘Surrogate’ (Vancouver) and finally ‘Forgotten World’, put to tape in front of a homeland gig in London, this live material makes for a suitably rousing finale to an extremely exciting body of work.
‘Wait For Me’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3qAlGLeHO4
‘As The World Stood Still’ (lyric video) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XP1tWsGAYh4
2021 UK ‘NO MAN’S LAND TOUR’ (dates correct as at 7 Sept 2021):
• 9 Dec – KK’s Steel Mill, WOLVERHAMPTON
• 10 Dec – Rebellion, MANCHESTER
• 11 Dec- Key Club, LEEDS
• 12 Dec – The Attic, GLASGOW
• 13 Dec – The Cluny, NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE
• 15 Dec – Exchange, BRISTOL
• 16 Dec – The Green Door Store, BRIGHTON
• 17 Dec – Powerhaus, LONDON
© John Tucker September 2021