Released: 2009, I Hate Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
It’s been 13 freaking long years since the Swedish doom meisters Count Raven released their 4th full-length album, titled MESSIAH OF CONFUSION. Now, it is 2009 - and the Raven is reborn in truth witnessing the release of ´Mammons War´, as it is explained in the label´s press kit. To explain the band´s 5th release a bit more, ´Mammon´ is a term, derived from the Christian Bible, that was used to describe greed, avarice, and unjust worldly gain and the word itself is a transliteration from the Hebrew word ´mammon´, which means ´money´. This tells the listener the band still relates their frustrations and unhappiness with social injustices and how senseless the world truly is - especially today. No excuses are being made or offered.
Having only Dan ´Fodde´ Fondelius left from the original line-up (Fredrik Jansson on bass, that Witchcraft fame - and Jens Bock behind drums), I am glad to say Count Raven haven´t let their old fans down on their fifth opus either. The ´Fodde´ guy still manages to squeeze his Ozzy-style vocally the same way he has always done it. In fact, even after their 5th album, it still impresses me a hell of a lot from time to time how he can sound so flawlessly like Mr. Osbourne. Also, what comes to the music itself - fear not, Count Raven has also been capable of sticking to the roots of traditional 80s doom metal sound, kinda paying their own tribute to the past releases - and doing it in a real respectable way even. Sure thing, they have rehashed their old musical ideas quite much on this new amazing Count Raven album, recycling just things a little bit from here and there. But in the end, one may ask: ´So what? This is fuckin´ traditional doom metal at its best...´ - and after hearing MAMMONS WAR, it is relatively easy to join to the same group and accept the facts - maybe even too easy.
MAMMONS WAR has basically everything that on could possibly expect from a Count Raven album. It has got lots of beautiful, yet so heavy and so strong atmospheres, highly Ozzy-influenced singing style, very good musical sense for making all the songs to stand out alone by themselves - added with sort of ´mandatory´ 70s psychedelic vibe, which is something they have always been capable of capturing into their songs since the very beginning. Bass, drums, guitars, vocals and some keyboard parts are all in a great balance to each other, none of them really overriding each other that is important on this record.
Out of 11 more traditional-based, naturally kind of Sabbath-orientated doom metal songs, there are actually 3 songs that are pretty exceptional numbers on MAMMONS WAR, leading its listeners towards some of the most beautiful, emotionally - and even dare I say, ´spacy´ touching moments that they have possibly experienced on a Count Raven record ever. Those three songs in question are the title track "Mammons War", "To Love Wherever You Are" and "Increasing Deserts" that undoubtedly are somewhat different in their own good, compared to the rest of the songs on this truly excellent piece of work.
I, however, dare to say now that Dan ´Fodde´ Fondelius is a fuckin´ walking musical genius who should deserve his own statue in the middle of Stockholm for making simply awesome traditional doom metal albums, one after another. MAMMONS WAR is - to put it simply, another highly successful cornerstone in Count Raven´s flawless career. Seems like whatever they may touch, turns to gold eventually.
And it is also very easy for my to subscribe the following bold statement from the end of label´s press kit: ´The Raven flies again, stronger and more inspired than ever, and the world is once again cast under its shadow´. Bingo!