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Blood and Honour - 79%

Sacraphobic, August 20th, 2004

Although not a hugely innovative album, this is one of the better BM releases in recent years. Raise the Banners' beauty lies in the band's excellent instinct for melody and their ability to create a huge sense of epic in songs that are often less than four minutes long. Hellenic pride is quite clearly surging through this release. War, blood, honour, glory, death - all central to this album's role.

The band is certainly derivative of the early Norwegian bands in some respects. The second track highlights this; beginning with a riff that might have found its way from Transilvanian Hunger were it not slightly more epic and glorious and slightly less cold (+ accompanied by less typical drumming), and turning into a riff that's somewhat similar to the classic Det Som En Gang Var riff. Yet even this song is very cool, certainly a step above the majority of derivative bands these days - it has a strong sense of direction and purpose.

The whole album is paced nicely - mainly Burzum-esque mid-paced rhythms, and blasting used successfully, not excessively. Melancholic melodies are used to great effect, particularly in my personal favourite "End of Journey", and the album's longest track "Viktoria Divina", an engaging and isolating keyboard piece. I like the vocals quite a bit - hollow, echoey and powerful growls integrated effectively into the songwriting. Normally I dislike drum machines, but one is used to good effect here, adding ambience and a war-like atmosphere in equal parts.

Complaints about this album: The production could be better. The volume changes sometimes, which doesn't greatly hamper my listening pleasure personally but has been slated by other RTB listeners in the past. It's also rather thin, which again may bother some people. I'd also like the album to be longer - it's barely over half an hour.

To summarise, this isn't a groundbreaking piece of art, but it's certainly worth adding to your collection.