The Raven Age are most certainly a band to watch. On the
face of it, if looks are all you cared about, these hooded demons of death
could be the stuff of nightmares. But quite the contrary, this quintet hailing
from London are about metal as you could possibly dream. Bringing their fantastical
tales of a dystopian world to life through melodic and thunderous music alike, we
are fully immersed in their second album: conceptual masterpiece Conspiracy. Proudly presented in
probably the most idyllic venue Leeds has to offer for the occasion, the inky
depths of the Key Club, this rock opera is unleashed upon the world.
Fellow metallers Sertraline set the tone perfectly with
their electrifying and heavy opening set, leaving you with but little choice
but to head bang vigorously to every single song. Vocalist Lizzie absolutely
slays with her sublime yet terrifying vocals that soar to impossible heights
over the deliciously intricate riffs. Fresh faced single ‘Relapse’ remains a
true highlight and showcases their fierce talent amazingly.
Following swiftly after were metalcore rockers Defences,
offering a whole different experience with their collection of tracks. With
ribbons of electronic bringing exciting new dimensions to this band, their
stand out feature is surely their combination of vocalists. William’s fabulous ability
to both scream and sing beautifully is one thing, but add that to Cherry’s
smoky and powerful voice, and you have something remarkable indeed.
As the stage darkened, the delicate tones of ‘Bloom of the
Poison Seed’ filled the room, giving you a moment to pause and reflect before
the symphony was about to begin. And as the gentle tones echoed into the night,
The Raven Age stormed onstage, wasting no seconds by blasting straight into ‘Betrayal
of the Mind’.
Heavy, intricate riffs coupled with the deep, ballsy
percussion completely overwhelm the senses in the absolute best way. And the
second that vocalist Matt James opens his mouth, you are captivated into their
dark fantasy world. The lyrics are perfectly conveyed by his combination of
gravelly, smoky vocals and if you dare close your eyes for a single second, you
can see this world unfolding right before you. This is true art: raw, pure and
As they reached ‘Surrogate’, James’ vocals are bold and
true, with his carrying notes flying high alongside the outstandingly heavy
metal. And yet, when he strapped on an acoustic guitar, his softer tones shined
beautifully against the simpler, melodic tracks. ‘The Fact That Launched a Thousand
Ships’ in particular was a chance to take a breath and appreciate another arrow
in the quiver of talent for The Raven Age.
Telling the story of Joan of Arc, ‘Fleur De Lis’ certainly
reigned supreme with intricate riffs keeping you on your toes, and quite
frankly mesmerised by its constant complexity, not just here but throughout the
entire show. This track along with ‘Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ were fabulous
ways of bringing history to the modern audience.
Barely stopping for a moment to take a single breath, the
audience was treated to Conspiracy in
almost its entirety, which is impressive to say the least and more than enough
to whet the appetite of even the most avid fan. But The Raven Age had other
ideas, by intertwining classic tracks ‘Promised Land’, ‘Forgotten World’ and ‘Salem’s
Fate’ into the mix and bringing its dark past into its equally dystopian present,
much to the delight of their fans.
Bringing the show to a close with a trio of mighty and
impressive tracks: ‘The Seventh Age’ is brilliant in the way it builds from understated,
humble beginnings to a full blown, metal anthem with James’ voice oozing pure
passion. Mammoth Conspiracy finale track
‘Grave of the Fireflies’ took the entire room to its knees with its magnitude, acting
as the perfect crescendo to this evening. Finally, veteran track ‘Angel in
Disgrace’ took us firmly back in time with killer riffs and driving, gut
punching drums. There couldn’t have possibly been a more perfect way to wrap up
The Raven Age show the beauty of writing concept albums: you
can create a place to escape, tackle subject matter that might be difficult to
approach in conventional song-writing and make music that delves deeper than
the spoken word. It is no wonder in a time of a twisted, wicked reality and
uncertainty, you want nothing more than to be transferred to literally anywhere
else, and that night, we all were. When this fantasy is transferred onto the
main stage for the whole world to see, this is pure, unadulterated rock and
roll magic and a truly magnificent experience to behold.