Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ravencult - Morbid Blood (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.

Verdict: Win [7.25/10]

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