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Could have been so much more... - 52%

Noktorn, May 6th, 2010

I typically enjoy a lot of melodic extreme metal albums like this one but 'When The Ravens Fly Over Me' leaves me cold. It's clear that Dantalion is trying to go for the fusion style of bands like Spite Extreme Wing, with a highly melodic fusion of modern death and black metal, but this release never comes together for me; it feels aimless and somewhat shuffling, with songs that never seem to have real points to them and just meander around the same few ideas without ever really reaching a satisfying resolution. I can't say this is a bad album, and it certainly has its good points (the sensible and nuanced drumming, the very nice production) but ultimately there's too many other albums to listen to for me to give this more than a passing listen.

Dantalion is influenced by a lot of things, including melodic death, black, and folk/viking metal, but the overarching influence, and the album's biggest flaw, is a reliance on black metal convention. A significant portion of the time, Dantalion's music races along in the Spite Extreme Wing style, with a bed of blasts providing a violent, tumbling rhythm for an array of simple yet carnally melodic riffing, but the other, say, forty percent of the time is dedicated to rather rote black metal ideas in the Swedish vein. I can't accurately describe just how jarring it is to have a great progression of melodic riffs ruined by a sudden turn towards Dark Funeral-style pseudo-dissonance; these moments entirely interrupt the flow of the album and the established style, and they're so clearly shoehorned in that you have to wonder if the band was insecure about being so melodic and felt like they had to beef their sound up with something more traditionally metallic. This wouldn't ordinarily be a big problem, but these sections are so mediocre and pepper the songs so liberally that they massively damage the album's overall presentation.

Beyond that, there are some extremely capable sections that fuse (again) Spite Extreme Wing style melodic blasting with more careful arpeggiated melodies, but they're just that: sections. No one song (apart from the prettily executed if somewhat arbitrary interlude track) is devoid of the siren call of traditional black metal. This makes for a release with a lot of good points and great individual moments that never coalesces into something more whole and satisfying. All the pieces are in place- excellent guitar and drumwork, a fairly capable if rather generic performance, and very clear, robust sound quality- but they never add up to more than a lot of riffs that circle around themselves and don't lead anywhere. It's really a shame how this album turned out: it seems like the band could have done a lot more if they'd been more willing to embrace what they're so good at.

Ultimately, this album isn't a complete failure, but the bad parts of it are so glaring that I have no desire to really listen to it. Others more willing to take the grain of salt that is the more pure black metal influence might get more out of it, but for me, it damns the album to a more or less permanent place on my shelf.