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I really liked this band’s last album Fireangel, as it was an epic as hell, thrilling stomp of old school metal with ramped-up aggression and riffs that prayed to the Devil with a fervor unlike any other band that year. It’s been a long couple of years, but now we finally have the new Mystic Prophecy in our hands, and while it isn’t the semi-classic their last one was, it’s still a really enjoyable headbanging listen.
Ravenlord is a lot shorter than their last one, with more compact songs, and at first I thought that was better – any band that can get their sound down to a shorter template and retain their signature sound and gusto is admirable for their songwriting technique. But after a lot of listens, I just don’t think this is as good. The songs go by quicker, but they are overall less complex and lack the layered heavy metal insanity of the ones on the last album, resulting in a sound with less substance and replay value. “Damned Tonight,” “Hollow,” “Cross of Lies”…these are all pretty decent songs, but they’re really just not as good as I expect from Mystic Prophecy, and the final song is an Ozzy Osbourne cover – and not a very good one, at that. A poor way to close an album; definitely not as good as their “Paranoid” cover from a few years back.
But when Mystic Prophecy is on, they’re really on, as on album standouts like “Die Now,” “Eyes of the Devil” and the Earth-crushing, Christ-raping duo of “Wings of Destiny,” with its heavy-as-hell groove and sublime riffing and “Endless Fire,” which is the most furious and balls-out song the band has ever written. Vocalist RJ Liapakis is on form here and gives his most vitriolic and aggressive performance yet, and the production is excellent. The riffs are more of the same chugging and snarling you’d expect, and the band as a whole is tight and energetic as hell. The lyrics are more of the same Satanic prayers the band has grown accustomed to writing over the last few albums, and sometimes it gets a bit tiresome, but then, they sound energetic enough to where I don’t mind too much.
Really where this fails is just that there are only about 38 minutes of original music on here, and only about half of that is as good as the stuff on Fireangel. If there were a few more killer songs like “Endless Fire” on here, I’d overlook the inconsistency, but overall, Ravenlord feels a tad stunted. The album is a sort of statement of purpose, and the band seems to be saying “we are here, and we aren’t going anywhere.” I just hope that their next one pushes their limits a bit more.
When it comes to Mystic Prophecy, you get exactly what you pay for. I bought "Regressus" many moons ago on a random purchase and never looked back; they had me hooked by "Lords of Pain." With "Ravenlord," Mystic Prophecy is once again dissecting their signature power/thrash metal circuit into basic structures and rocking choruses just like an overwhelming portion of their energized discography. Although the album brings nothing new to the table, these German overlords are still running full-throttle and railing your face in the name of Satan. Ten songs, forty minutes of molten metal and an Ozzy Osbourne cover? Sounds like a typical whiplash by the hands of Mystic Prophecy.
They certainly aren’t writing amazing pieces of epic proportions like “Fallen Angel” or producing songs that are so catchy even dogs go bananas, but who cares? This is another effort from one of the most consistent and unchanged bands around, and Mystic Prophecy, led by RD Liapakis, continues right where it left off. The opening title track has a mid-tempo grind that shuffles between heavy riffs and Liapakis' melodic yet harsh vocals with the addictive chorus and ripping guitar solos still running strong. Not much new here on the musical end compared to the band’s previous efforts, but I’m not complaining. Liapakis’ voice has aged very well, and the group once again continues to morph into something heavier through thrash-inspired assaults like "Reckoning Day" or the growling vocals on "Die Now." These guys willingly descend deeper into Satan's hole with each and every release, a ritual they certainly have perfected.
"Ravenlord" isn't as demonic as "Satanic Curses" and not quite the oasis of fresh songwriting compared to "Regressus," but let's not forget the only fact that matters: it's Mystic Prophecy, and they don't give a damn. Mystic Prophecy is a cluster of metallic clichés, and they're among a handful of acts that never really deviate from a peculiar sound but can still produce sensational material. The album's finest quality is that it doesn't screw around or playfully tease the listener with useless samples or other mundane crap. Instead, Mystic Prophecy strikes like the tail of a stingray. They aren't writing deeply motivating or intellectual material like that on "Vengeance" anymore, but Mystic Prophecy's equation works diligently and continues to produce very enjoyable albums, just like this one.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com
It's interesting to see styles deviate from the norm in ways you'd not expect them to. Some of them do so subtly, others overzealously, but all of it double-take inducing. Consider the darker end of the power metal spectrum, where groups like Iced Earth, Powerwolf and these here Mystic Prophecy folks show that not everything with epic riffs and wild choirs has to be clad in a fragrant scent. Sometimes that scent is that of burning fire, decaying flesh, and brimstone, and in the end, it can be just as entertaining, if not more so during certain times of the year or mindsets (it’s hard to enjoy a good, dark mood with Luca Turilli making you simultaneously head bang and giggle).
So with that said, let’s see what this “Ravenlord” work has in store for me/us…
Right away, for those who aren’t in the know about Mystic Prophecy, they would be hard-pressed to classify these dudes as power metal…hell, even after going a few songs in it’d still be hard to do so. This is a bit of a different beast, encapsulating a few other influential influences into their epic sound, making the bulk of “Ravenlord” a darker, almost violent affair than one would be used to. The Euro-born roots are still deeply held in its personal soil, but the influx of a more thrash-like foundation and a dusting of melodic death leads give the music a fist-raising rage and sense of defiance that leads one to grab his sword and fight WITH the demons rather than AGAINST them. That’s the plan, it seems; maybe Hell got a little tired of all those fake black metal acts and needed something different to have their army of darkness come together as a whole, and Attila Dorn could only bring so many into the fold. Some of the more fantasy-loving, armor-wearing types brought in to even out all those corpsepainters, perhaps?. Well, if that’s the case, then what we have here is a hell of a recruitment tool, a fine example of shadow-clad metal wherein the dramatic end is left to the music and not the behind-the-scenes politics other dark and wicked acts tend to dwell within.
With no keyboards present to add pomp to the thick layers of musical ashes and soot, much of the melody is a bit forsook in favor of outright heaviness and a guitar-centric approach that augments said heavy feel with intense ferocity. There are moments, though, where lighter moments shine through, be they the twin harmonic leads or slightly serene-sounding vocals, only to be crushed under the oppressive weight of the chunky riffs and some pissed-the-hell-off growls that, actually, fit the scheme of things pretty nicely, and the end result is a very solid affair that may not appeal to the more elves and fairy worshipping crowd but can still stand on its own two feet in terms of competence and all-out ballsiness. That said, though, this is an album with much to offer, though not a lion’s share, as many of the songs end quicker than you’d expect; more two-dimensional in its central feel, this is more of an album to listen to and enjoy rather than giving one fodder feed for the creation of his/her own mental wonderland. Not that there’s anything WRONG with that...even some of the most bombastic groups out there can’t escape drudgeriness despite the dozens of layers within each song, and when it comes down to it, this particular piece of work, with strong tracks like “Die Now!!”, “Damned Tonight” and “Endless Fire”, sparks and sizzles within its own sense of limitation.
At the end of the day, “Ravenlord” turned out to be quite the enjoyable little album, proving that a choking weed can still grow amidst fields of colorful flowers (PLEASE tell me you understand that analogy…). Good for their long-time fans, and even worthy of the collection of those who just want a good time rockin’ out to honest, slightly simple demonic metal.
Originally written for The Offering
Having listened to Mystic Prophecy's first six albums, I can honestly say the somewhat dark lyrics didn't really jump out at me as they do on this album, and I can't say as I've ever thought of many of their tracks just flat out bumming me out like the dreck they've served up this time out. Track after track of pathetic attempts of conjuring up seemingly frightening images that are in reality about as scary as Adam Sandler pulling yet another stupid face in one of his dopey movies. It's as if these jokers prepared for the lyrics of this mess by sitting through a schlockfest of really bad slasher flicks and laughable possession movies. Rarely have I heard such trash masquerading as lyrics; certainly no one could describe them as anything remotely approaching intelligent.
And the supposed vocals are simply an exercise in foolishness - dangerously close to Cookie Monster range, as if the singer is trying to convey a mindset of, "Ooooooo! Listen to me. Aren't I scary?" This is not the Mystic Prophecy I recall listening to; it's as if some genius steered them into a new direction with a statement of, "Hey, let's try to get REALLY scary and evil... All the cool kids are doing it." The result? Merde, poop, caca, or if you prefer - an out and out crock of shit.
Even the music seems to be on auto-pilot - bombastic, overbearing, and droning. It might be good for frightening squirrels off your back fence, but to actually sit down and listen to this without wanting to puncture your own eardrums with a rusty knitting needle? Hardly. I started out listening to this album in an upbeat mood, but by the third track, I was ready to start smashing things (preferably this truly putrid CD) with a hammer. In my opinion, this wretched garbage is the worst album they've produced by a mile - may I never sully my ears with it again.