Enfeebling the Throne
posted on 4/2011 By:
Turkey’s Raven Woods is yet another modern, technically inclined death metal band with a solid grasp of dynamics and a lot of different ideas to offer. The last few years have seen an increase in songwriting focus in this sub-genre that has yielded a bevy of impressive results compared to the rather stale place this movement found itself in the early-to-middle part of this decade, and the fact that this trend is rubbing off on upcoming bands from around the world is an exciting prospect. While they aren’t about to take the metal world by storm with their second full-length, Raven Woods is nevertheless another interesting and surprisingly distinctive technical death band that serves as a good example of the positive strides this kind of music has made in recent memory.
While not nearly as thrashy or old-school in tone and construction, the serpentine riffs and elaborate drum arrangements of Enfeebling the Throne definitely bring Melechesh to mind. But Raven Woods takes this stylistic base in a more polished, intricate direction more akin to modern tech death. Hyper-blastbeats and insanely complex double-kick drumming lay down a demanding path for the guitars to follow, and for the most part, the busy instruments and vocals mesh together well. There’s little in the way of over-doing it in terms of musicianship, and despite its technical nature, most of this material is refreshingly song-based. The Middle-Eastern flair that whips out from many of the riffs is certainly enticing, and the blackened snarl that influences the production and some of the vocals adds a nice bite to the polished aesthetic of the music. And while most of the material falls into expected finger-cramping territory, there’s some interesting change-ups thrown in as well, particularly the crushing groove of “Inward Massacre” and the electronic influences and clean singing that pepper “Stay.”
That’s not to say that Raven Woods doesn't pull off their techy material well, because they do. Despite the flashy playing (including some absolutely astounding drumming), the band’s hooks are rarely overshadowed or overplayed, and typically burst through with an impressive amount of force. The electrifying main riff of the title track and the thrashy melodies that open “Ecstasy Through Carnage” are moments that recall bands like Neuraxis and Psycroptic in their ability to really leap out and grab the listener. Of course, there are times when the playing does feel at odds with the compositions as well, and that tendency can get in the way of the band's desire to deliver bombastic, overpowering songs. Certain riffs are smothered by the super-busy drum performance, and then there are times when the band tries to reign things back to a more straightforward attack, only to lose that sense of intensity that this kind of music needs to inspire. Ultimately, Raven Woods sounds the best when they embrace their melodic sense and let the instrumentation flow with the way the songs are written.
Fortunately, they manage this feat for a good portion of Enfeebling the Throne, and the result is a rock-solid tech death outing with a satisfying blackened edge and a couple of interesting shifts from the standard formula. If you enjoy complex death metal and are looking for something that aims to impress from both a technical and creative standpoint, Raven Woods is a good band to seek out in 2011.
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