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Cult - part II - 96%

Felix 1666, December 15th, 2014
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Hells Headbangers Records

After their already outstanding debut, this infernal Greek legion returns with a vengeance. The second full-length of the three-piece marks a further milestone for the busy Hellenic scene. Ravencult is still bursting with energy and the group apparently loves the power of musical violence. The band members did not see the necessity to change their style significantly. This means that they deliver once again an explosive charge of raging black thrash metal. One can discuss whether the thrash elements have slightly increased, but this would be just an academic debate that nobody really needs. The crucial thing is that the level of aggression has not decreased. Rather, the opposite is the case. I do not know many albums that reach a comparable level.

Ravencult´s sound is characterised by the flattening riffs which are sharp as a scalpel and hard as a diamond at once. But it´s not easy to define the most outstanding feature of this record. The brutal guitar lines and the drumming give you the ultimate kick as well. The man with the demolition hammer, oops, I wanted to say: the man behind the drums appears like a hyperactive child. I want to know how many drums died a sudden death during the recording of this album... Due to his rabid way of playing, it´s all the more admirable that he does not miss a beat. However, while heralding the acoustic apocalypse, the band draws also attention to comprehensible song structures. The guys have a keen sense for the right amount of breaks. The tunes are neither primitive nor overloaded. It sounds corny, but the band unleashes a real inferno, at least during the numerous hyper-speed parts. The dense and full sound fits perfectly to the compositional approach. Each and every instrument (and this goes for the vocals, too) is well produced by the band itself. But especially the bone-dry guitar sound releases the destructive power of the exciting subgenre while also offering a tiny number of punk influences.

Epic elements rarely appeared on the debut. Now they are banished. The band reaches the stage of the ultimate black thrash ecstacy. The musicians avoid childish black´n roll parts as well as egocentric solos. Without following traditional song patterns, the tunes are coherent and perfectly performed. The dominating aura of destruction is omnipresent from start to finish. Honestly, the guitars and the drums resemble a well-oiled war machine. The raw vocals emphasize the martial atmosphere because of their hateful and misanthropic appearance. From my point of view, the combination of blistering pace and absolute darkness marks the outstanding feature of this document of devastation. The band does not need slow atmospheric parts to express a certain mood. The all-consuming maelstrom is created only by the sheer brutality of the unstoppable Greeks. (And due to this, I guess that the drummer´s pseudonym "J. Maelstrom" is no coincidence.) Therefore, I apologise for my inability to name my favourite tracks due to the following reasons. Firstly, it does not make sense to list all ten song titles in this review. Secondly, I am just happy that I survived this attack against all that is holy - I feared a collateral damage. Thirdly, I have to end this review to listen again to this album.

Pantheon of primordial pain - 72%

autothrall, April 18th, 2011

Ravencult is another of Greece's traditional black metal outfits, exchanging the cultural leanings or aural experimentation of a Rotting Christ or a Necromantia for a pure throttling pioneered by the likes of Bathory, Nifelheim, Mayhem and Impaled Nazarene. They lack the colder, depressive onslaught of a Dodsferd or Burial Hordes, but they compensate with a thick, writhing tone and a slew of memorable enough riff attacks that succeed in slamming the listener through a brick wall from the sheer level of hostility alone. This is not the black metal of the cold woods at night. You can't see your own breath in it. The wolves have turned in for the evening. No, this is more like a street fight through perdition, a brawl in the ritual chamber, a muscle car with a potent engine that spews only diabolical exhaust in its wake.

There's quite a bit of blasting here in "Hail Revenge", "Morbid Blood", or "Winds of Damnation", all of which mirror the volatile Northern Europe traditions of the genre, with gleaming banks of higher strings configured in harrowing patterns. But I found myself more drawn to the tracks that use the rock beats, like the opener "Sacrilege of Death", or the solid slamming of "With Hunter In Eyes". Where they break out into the speed metal streams of foul notation, the band truly starts to kick ass, the fuel injection finally arrives and they become something more than perhaps they should be. "Black Rites of Execration" is another standout here, with a lot of the typical black metal double bass rhythms but a good use of tight chords that create wavering windows to the sinister; plus the breakout riff at about 2:00 into the song totally slays, sure to thrill fans of Nifelheim, Gehenna or Bewitched. The final two tracks, "Sworn to the Unspoken Oath" and "The Gates of Bloodshed" are also fairly memorable.

Morbid Blood has a solid mid-range tone which allows the guitars to shine off like fresh bloodstains against the treacherous presence of Linos. The vocals are basically your standard snarling, but then I couldn't imagine what else might really work over such sinister guitars. An almost incessant, virile energy keeps it spry and entertaining for much of the 40 minute length, but the songs are standard length with at least a variation or two in each. The writing is hardly novel or fascinating, but it's a fitting accompaniment to murder that should have genre purists rolling in their guts, a fortified series of stab wounds that won't heal too quickly.