Released: 2002, Avantgarde Music
The second full length from Burlington Ontario’s own Ray Wells (a.k.a. Raventhrone) has finally been unleashed upon the world. After a lengthy wait between albums (first disc MALICE IN WONDERLAND came out in 1997), Ray has permanently relocated to Canada (20 minutes from my house) and spent time in Austria recording this album with Martin Schirenc (Pungent Stench). A one-man project all the way, Ray composed and plays everything on this album, with the exception of Mike Groeger (Hollenthon) on drums.
Unfortunately, Mike’s powerful drumming is hacked at the knees by a fairly weak production. The drum sound is extremely weak and dull, sounding like cardboard boxes beaten with sticks. It sounds like Mike has considerable double-bass skill, but he doesn’t get a chance to really shine here. The other production problem is that the keyboards are mixed far too high, sometimes drowning out the guitars. Again, this is a shame because Ray has a wonderfully dirty and fuzzy guitar tone that is perfect for his music. This is made worse by the fact that some of the keyboard lines are laugh-out-loud cheesy. I mean, we’re talking stuff that sounds like it comes from a bad 80s fantasy film (see “Dragon of the Nightsky”).
As for the songs themselves, I gotta say, this is an enjoyable disc. The catchy and memorable “The Gargoyle” opens the disc with a mid-paced blackened death stomp, Ray growling convincingly over the din. For some reason, BLOOD ON ICE era Bathory comes to mind when I listen to this album. The mostly slow-to-mid-paced speed of the songs and Ray’s sometimes Quorthon-esque voice are the tip-offs. Unfortunately Ray’s regular singing voice is not all that distinctive, sounding like your average “everyman” (think Falconer’s vocalist, but less powerful). I dunno, maybe that’s the sound that Ray is going for here, but I find the songs that are dominated by his growls to be more convincing.
Nevertheless, despite its flaws, ENDLESS CONFLICT THEOREM is a highly enjoyable disc. Kudos to Ray for creating a successful project that can’t be lumped in with your typically horrible “one man bands”. Let’s hope that it’s not another 5 years between albums!