Released: 2009, 8Ton Music
The latest batch of albums I received to review was so bad, that I was about to give up in disgust at only finding two this month worthy of review. Then, I put in IN THE SPIRIT OF DARKNESS by Germany’s Ravenryde and it was like “Hell yeah, man.” Digging into the promotional bio, I discovered that founding guitarist Didi Saller played in Blue Cheer back in 1990. His intention in Ravenryde was to play “loud, sinister, and evil” hard rock music. Mission accomplished. Ravenryde channels retro, and I do not mean retro thrash and hair metal, as is popular now, but retro 70’s and 80s doom metal. Most specific comparisons would be to Dio, Black Sabbath, and touches of Candlemass.
Opening track “Unholy Ground” is an upbeat foot stomping rocker, with singer Matt Joseph sounding like a cross between Andi Deris, Dio, and Marc Storace. “In The Spirit of Darnkess” is the next track with a tasteful piano intro followed by a doom laden riff that recalls the glory days of Candlemass. The album really reaches its peak in the middle with tracks like “Demon” and “Eyes In The Sky” blending epics, doom, and ballads that signify all the qualities that make up good metal. Production is likewise top notch and the riffs Didi spews forth are driving and memorable while the bass is big and booming. The drumming is focused and workmanlike, doing what is necessary but not really standing out, preferring to let the riffs and bass carry the songs. I cannot say enough about Matt Joseph though, who is a metal singer from head to toe, perfectly finding the right phrasings and melodies for these crunching tunes.
There are a few missteps, such as the overly sappy ballad “If I Was King”, which just sounds out of place. Likewise, on an album of 11 songs there are a couple that sound forced and screams “filler”. Ravenryde also has a tendency to compose thumping verses and then lose steam come chorus time. Despite these shortcomings, this is a strong album overall, worthy of a listen if you are a fan of Dio, Black Sabbath, or classic heavy metal in general. The band is building quite a following in Germany and I expect there next album will push them further into the international market. Recommended.