Beyond The Walls Of Death
Released: 2016, InnerWound Records
This brand new band from Finland has loads of talent because their debut suddenly appeared on the respected Innerwound Records label from out of nowhere. To be fair they did have a few songs on Bandcamp a couple of years ago but it is quite rare for a band to be suddenly signed without spending some time in the trenches. I can hear why they got signed, as Ravenia have a quite unique sound.
On the surface, Ravenia is a neo-classical, symphonic/orchestra Power Metal band. Beyond that, they have far more death than just a Metal band with a female vocalist and some computerized violins. BEYOND THE WALLS OF DEATH is much more of a soundtrack to an epic film, than anything else. It is almost, dare I say background music…meaning you do not have to be an active listener. There isn’t your traditional song composition, with verses and choruses and solos, it is far more free-style, more flowing, more elegant. The music lilts and floats along, soaring across the clouds and just keeps going. Do you know how many bands have a big epic orchestral introduction piece? Well imagine a whole album of them each 6-7 minutes long. At first when I heard the opening track, ‘For Those We Forsaken’, I thought to myself, ‘This introduction is taking a long time to get the album going’. But it didn’t stop. Each song, building upon the next eschews that traditional structure for a more ambient sound. That is not to say it is not heavy! There are lots of fast drums, good crunchy guitars, but not really traditional guitar solos but the songs race along at times, like the opening to the song, ‘There Is But One Path’.
The individual performances are wonderful and there are a whole host of guests on cello, violin, viola and more. The vocals of Armi Paivinen are very sweet, soprano-like in her tone and her delivery is quite understated. Some of these female fronted bands (Nightwish, Epica etc) can be very bombastic in the vocal department where the singer really belts it out but Paivinen sings in an elegant understated manner, almost just being like another instrument. She is mixed a little farther back in the mix too so she blends well into the overall atmosphere of each song. The word ‘soundtrack’ or perhaps ‘film-score’ keeps coming back to my mind over and over as they only good way to describe this epic music.
BEYOND THE WALLS OF DEATH sports a cool cover, superb production and a deep, multi-layered sound. The uniqueness of their signature style brings the whole album up in my estimation. The only other artists I can really think of that is doing something along these lines is Leah from Vancouver, Canada, who is perhaps not coincidentally, signed to InnerWound Records as well. Ravenia is a very pleasant surprise and will be close to the top-tier of these types of bands when it comes to the end of the year lists.