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The Raven Age

Artist: The Raven Age

Venue: London, Lafayette

Date: 5 October 2023

"I went to the gig not knowing anything about The Raven Age but I left a fully paid-up member of their fan club. This band will only get better and they are already great."

The Raven Age © Myke Gray

There are clear indicators when an artist can see the bigger picture. Until recently The Raven Age were unknown to me, but their name and logo certainly caught my attention. Somewhere within this band is a creative mind that has a very strong vision. The big question is does the music live up to the branding? To find the answer I travel into central London to see them on the first night of their headline tour.

Tonight’s gig is being held at Lafayette, a venue within walking distance of Kings Cross station. It’s a sold-out show and the reception area was overflowing with fans long before the doors opened at 7pm. When it was time for the headliners to take to the stage the auditorium was packed to the rafters. The audience was an enthusiastic mixture of young and old Metalheads with a large percentage of them wearing The Raven Age T-shirts. This is a band with a very strong fanbase. The hardcore fans at the front of the stage were chanting the band’s name long before they made their entrance.

An ominous and eerie intro tape signalled the start of the show and five men dressed in black took to the stage and assumed battle positions. This is a well drilled unit. Upon command the band opened with ‘Parasite’, a song taken from their 2023 album ‘Blood Omen’. They look and sound how their name and logo suggest. The Raven Age are exactly what it says on the tin. Heavy Fucking Metal! The classic influences are there for all to see, but being played in a way that makes them relevant in 2023. The development of Metal through the decades is a fascinating subject. While opinions vary dramatically, I think it’s safe to say that most people would consider Black Sabbath to be the forefathers of all that followed. While the fundamentals such as subject matter, distorted guitars, thunderous drums and aggressive vocals remain the same, it’s very much the precision of its execution that has been its biggest progression. Classic albums like ‘Machine Head’ by Deep Purple, ‘British Steel’ by Judas Priest, ‘Number Of The Beast’ by Iron Maiden, ‘Master Of Puppets’ by Metallica and ‘Rust In Peace’ by Megadeth have consistently raised the bar in terms of musicianship. The Raven Age fully understand their musical heritage and it’s reflected in the way they write and perform.

In Jai Patel they have a world class drummer. His double bass drum work is so solid and metronomic that at times it sounds like a machine. He sets a very high standard. but to his credit bass player Matty Cox more than holds his own. Together they lay the solid foundation needed for everything else to be built upon. There is an obvious chemistry between guitar players George Harris & Tommy Gentry. They switch between crunching guitar riffs and twin melodic interplay with absolute ease. Vocalist Matt James is an extremely confident and engaging frontman. He is also blessed with a very powerful voice and wide vocal range.

While this was all a revelation to me, to the other six hundred people in the room it wasn’t the least bit surprising. They knew exactly what to expect and were loving every minute of it. The immense power of the first song showed no sign of diminishing as they segue into ‘The Day The World Stood Still’, taken from the band’s second album ‘Conspiracy’. Sonically they sounded superb and all the instruments could be heard with great clarity.

The beautifully melodic guitar intro of ‘Essence Of Time’ allowed James to express the more tender side of his voice. ‘Forgive & Forget’ showcased the band’s considerable technical ability, featuring some incredibly precise finger picking and double bass drum work. Once again James puts in an incredible vocal performance. The charismatic frontman has a great rapport with the audience and works hard to interact with them in-between songs. You can feel them becoming more emotionally invested as the set builds momentum.

‘Nostradamus’ can only be described as epic. A composition that allows Gentry’s guitar virtuosity to shine brightly. He is unquestionably one of the UK’s finest soloists. ‘Salem’s Fate’ highlighted the band’s lofty songwriting ambitions. To keep a piece of music interesting for nearly eight minutes is not an easy thing to do. A challenge they seem to embrace rather than fear. ‘Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier’ once again showed off Patel’s remarkable double bass drum skills. This is not a band member you would want to lose in a hurry as he would leave behind some extremely big shoes to fill. The onslaught continued with ‘War In Heaven’. The song titles are all very grandiose and befitting with the band’s image. It’s like a musical version of a graphic novel being played out in front of you. The monstrous riff of ‘Seventh Heaven’ shows they are more than capable of going head to head with their US counterparts. James was hitting some stratospheric notes and at times reminded me of young Geoff Tate.

‘The Journey’ showed the more melodic side of their songwriting. To my ears this was the most commercial song in the set and it wouldn’t sound out of place on US Rock radio. Its dramatic chord structure provides a platform for Gentry to rip out another magnificent solo. As the main set was coming to an end it was time to bring out the big guns. ‘Angels In Disgrace’ is a stand out song. A brilliantly constructed piece of music that was played with meticulous precision. They close with the magnificent ‘Tears Of Stone’. One of the many things I like about this band is their cinematic approach to songwriting. Each composition is written like a movie with a very clear beginning, middle, and climatic end. This is a skill and not an accident.

The crowd stayed with the band throughout the whole journey and they were more loved at the end of the night than at the beginning.

They left the stage victorious but soon returned for their first encore, ‘Serpents Tongue’. Another fantastic song which contained yet another beautifully constructed Gentry guitar solo. ‘Grave Of The Fireflies’ is a song of biblical proportions. To play an eight minute song as an encore shows great confidence. Like every great band they saved the best ‘til last. I suspect they will be playing ‘Fleur Dis Lis’ for decades. A song that contains an absolutely brilliant chorus. The audience knew and sang along with every word.

This band seems to have everything. A spectacular drummer. A tight and solid bass player. Two great guitar players, and a dynamic frontman with a great voice. They have the songs and they have the image. I can’t see anything that will stand in their way. I went to the gig not knowing anything about The Raven Age but I left a fully paid-up member of their fan club. This band will only get better and they are already great.


Review & Photos: Myke Gray




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