Album Review: Ravenwoods – Enfeebling the Throne
Artist: Ravenwoods (Turkey)
Album: Enfeebling the Throne (2011)
Genre: Oriental Black Metal
Since we reviewed the superb debut album of the Belgian Black Metal band Saille, we got our name put on the promotion list of the band’s label, Code666. It’s a sublabel of Aural Music and specializes in cult-heavy Metal. That means stuff that’s fackin’ weird, but also highly original and usually extremely entertaining if you let it be.
So now we get sent promo packages a lot, whenever the label is about to release a new album of one of its bands. They release more than we can keep up with, but we do try to check everything out and we’ll at least write about the stuff that’s particularly good. The stuff you shouldn’t miss.
Turkey’s Ravenwoods has its second album over the course of its twelve year existence lined up for release next week, on April 1st. Obviously we’ve already heard it!
First a bit about the band though. It formed in 1998, first with a Melodic Black Metal focus, in the city of Ankara. They suffered from the usual problems with line-up changes for a while, until then-bass player Ozan switched to drums – there was a drummer shortage – and they began work on their first proper release. I can’t check, but apparently “this album is still considered as one of the best albums ever in the Turkish Metal scene”.
In any case, the album got them the attention of Code666, and a multi-record deal was signed. Enfeebling the Throne is to be the first.
Both on their debut album and on Enfeebling the Throne, Ravenwoods have invited a dude named Mercan Dede to help out. The guy’s a “Ney artist” and he operates it in “Sufi music”. No clue what that is, I presume? Neither did I, but Wikipedia claims a Ney is some sort of flute and Sufi is some sort of Islamic music, I’m sure you can picture an image of it in your mind.
For people from the Middle-East and, North Africa, Afghanistan and even as far as Indonesia it may be more, to me it sounds like oriental fuckin’ music, though I would’ve believed it to be Greek as well. I’m a Sufi-illiterate. What I can tell ya is that it’s a great fuckin’ combination; face-pounding, gut-slicing Metal with the mythical tunes of the orient to paint out the details.
Enfeebling the Throne features eleven tracks and 41 minutes of the stuff, in various degrees of loudness. There’s a suspense-building intro that seems to be taken straight from the movie Scorpion King or something. It’s short enough to not get annoying, yet long enough to make tremolo-picked and blast-beat ear assault that makes up the start of the follow-up track, the title track, all the more vicious and frightening.
There is more of this relentless violence on the record, but thankfully Ravenwoods has a good understanding of variation and why an album needs it. There are enough tempo and mood changes to keep the record interesting, instead of a mindless, head-numbing constant attack. There are calm chunks of pure Sufi and pictures of scorching desert heat race through my mind. The oriental setting also returns in lead guitar pieces, and even riffs, throughout the album and it provides for a strong sense of consistency on the album.
Though mostly heavily Black Metal inspired, there are songs that exhibit strong flavors of Melodic – but still fuckin’ heavy – Death Metal and even hints of Thrash. Once again proof of understanding of the necessity of variation and of quality musicianship. Riffs tend to be fast though, and the connection to despairing Black Metal is never far away, unless you get rescued by a piece of Sufi of course, or the piece of Spanish guitar on Torture Palace.
Point is that although this stuff can get quite harsh for many people, it does give you enough air to breathe in regular intervals. I for one appreciate this, and not only that, but also the fact that a preceding calmness makes the succeeding violence all the more intense. Simple trick but it works. In fact, it’s pretty much essential if you don’t want to numb your listeners down too much.
As always, we want to give you a taste of what we’re rambling on about. Unfortunately we found diddley squat on YouTube, and so we decided to upload something ourselves. There’s the risk it’ll be taken down, but we fuckin’ swear: all we mean to do is promote a great album and stimulate people to buy it! We more or less randomly picked a song for you; all we paid attention to was for it to contain both some relentless Black Metal bashing and some breath-taking Sufi. We picked The Grey Cold Shade, which we like a lot!
The conclusion is already clear I guess, but let’s give it again anyway. This shit’s hot shit! Highly recommended for those with a liking for creative and mythical atmosphere-rich Black Metal! If you find yourself attracted to the likes of Behemoth, Keep of Kalession or Dimmu Borgir to name just a few, this may be a welcome addition to your collection. It may not be as loud or crushing as these, but it’ll definitely make up for that in terms of variation and sophistication.
My Grade: 8.5/10
Buy this when:
- you’re into atmosphere-infused Black Metal
- you’re into Extreme Sufi
- you’re in it for quality, not for the killing power of the decibels