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The Raven Age - 'Darkness Will Rise' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/13/33/67/The-Raven-Age-Darkness-Will-Rise-89-1495391630.jpg Hot

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Their debut not only impresses but justifies a patience and commitment to quality.

"It's the age of the raven and now they are spreading their wings" – an ominous portent from the (almost) eponymous track 'Age Of The Raven'. This is the debut album from the London-based band who have already gained the seal of approval from the Metal hierarchy, earning support slots with some of the major players, notably on the recent Anthrax tour and on Iron Maiden's 'Book Of Souls' tour. It helps somewhat when the latter is your dad's band too. There's a vague recollection of catching the guys on another support slot a few years back in one of the local small venues, so on the one hand, while there are advantages to your guitarist being Steve Harris' lad (George), on the other hand, you can't deny that they've done their homework in the clubs and bars.

They're a group who also seem to have taken their time to work up the material for their first release. On the scene since forming in 2009, and with just an EP behind them, the album weighs in at a whopping seventy-five minutes – the equivalent in old money to a double album's worth. It might raise issues of whether or not there's a case for quantity over quality, yet on this occasion, 'Darkness Will Rise' proves to be an example of the thirteen song set being fully justified as the fledgling ravens take flight.

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Yes, it may be a bit of a challenge to take in such a full set, yet it's one which isn't duly overbearing and there's an admirable attempt to vary the arrangements, the pace and the dynamics whilst managing to maintain the interest. There's a dramatic and epic quality about the music which is backed by a lyrical darkness. You only need to check out the song titles ('Salem's Fate', 'Angel In Disgrace' and 'The Dying Embers Of Life') to get an inkling that the "Raven Age" will be a shadow-filled, pessimistic era.

There's no hysterical vocal posturing from Michael Burrough who delivers the goods on top of a soundtrack which shifts from acoustic passages and carefully arranged mid-paced tempos, to a more head-on barrage and battering. An emphasis on combining the heaviness with a strong emphasis on melody marks The Raven Age and their debut as one which not only impresses but justifies a patience and commitment to quality.

Mike Ainscoe

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