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Count Raven, probably the most underrated traditional doom band in doom metal history. For a long time I have been looking to get my hands on some of their material, (seeing as I was in diapers during their lifespan.) Thankfully, I can now do so. Cyclone Empire did a good job with the albums reissue. I haven’t heard the original version though so I can’t tell you if the reissue is better than the original or not, but as a whole this album is a nice supersized portion of traditional doom metal.
Whatever possessed the band to record as many songs as they did for this I'll never know, but I can safely say that while the songs are long and very typical of most doom albums. The fact that so many are packed into one CD is simply overkill. The album can be divided into three sections (excluding the demo material): the intro (which has its own eerie level of spine tingling godliness to it), the next five tracks, then everything after (and including) the seventh track. The second section has a couple tracks which are simply filler, which are essentially the reason that this album is kept out of the high nineties on my rating scale.
Musically, the band takes elements from three specific bands, Candlemass, Saint Vitus, and, of course, Black Sabbath. This stirs them in a cauldron and then churns an album out of it. Christian Lindersson's vocals sound very similar to Ozzy; they have that same euphoric feel to them that makes any normal person drool over anything song he recorded under the Black Sabbath name, yet whenever he sings something it sounds clearer than Ozzy did. Dan Fondelius does vocals on track five and they sound slower, but not really that different from Christians (if it wasn’t listed somewhere I wouldn’t have known).
The guitars on here are slow. Sometimes the riffs have the epic feel to them that is very similar to Candlemass, at other times they present themselves very similar to the more traditional style of Saint Vitus and Black Sabbath. Every song on here dooms along in either of those formats, at times this does get a little repetitive but after awhile you get in a nice relaxed state and this doesn’t bother you as much.
Drum work on here is top notch. The parts are written with the drums used as a nice setting device for the songs speed. When the drumming is slow and almost non-existent the songs follow, when the patterns speed up so does the album, and whenever they are going full force the guitars follow suit and you are consumed by the flood of sound.
On the track “A Devastating Age” keyboards are added in. These help add a more overall heavenly feel and give a nice refreshing change to the doom marathon that proceeded. That same track also breaks out some acoustics which make this the perfect epic track, and would set up great for the ninth track, but instead we get a nice repeat of the good half and hour of traditional doom that preceded.
The ninth track is a similar change from the standard form the band follows. The use of a violin starts off and then you get a nice uplifting classical passage with the same experimental keyboard use that made this album stand out for me.
This album is a high quality slab of doom, with a lot of unique gems to wade through. The demo tracks on here sound very clean for most demo extras; however, there are still a couple of kinks in the mix (probably from how the master copies were recorded). The only drawback to this album is the couple of filler tracks that show themselves on here. If you want to call yourself a die-hard doomster this release is a mandatory purchase.