A cult act amongst fans of true Doom Metal, anyone missing the glory days of BLACK SABBATH would do well to obtain “Destruction Of The Void”, the sophomore album from Stockholm’s COUNT RAVEN (actually, obtaining all four albums is highly recommended). With a vocalist in Dan Fondelius who is nearly a dead-ringer of 60s/70s Ozzy Osbourne, and a sound that is half rooted in the 70s and half in modern times, COUNT RAVEN play Doom in the truest of true forms.
Now, the above is not meant to imply that COUNT RAVEN are completely unoriginal or are nothing more that plagiarists, as they are still their own band. Their sound is certainly heavier and chunkier than the genre originators, which is partially due a more modern production, and they are also more progressively-minded. Regardless, would it even be possible to play traditional Doom and truly be original? The genre is all about staying strong to the roots and keeping most modern influences at bay, so songwriting and instrumental chops are what makes the band, not the originality. And guess what? COUNT RAVEN have both in spades.
Now let me clarify something: while I did say “modern production” earlier, don’t for a second think that “Destruction Of The Void” is a shiny, pretty, Pro-Tooled-to-death album. No, the production is modern in that the equipment/technology of today is simply superior to that of yesteryear, so the sound is better on today’s recordings. That this is a remastered version of the album also can’t hurt anything. But as it is the album is very heavy, but also very real and organic in sound. Now on to the songs themselves.
“Destruction Of The Void” starts off with a triple threat of songs that should bring any Doomster to his or her knees, begging for more. “Until Death Do Us Part” is nearly epic in it’s strength of taking snail-paced music, and keeping it incredibly interesting for nearly an eight-minute duration, while “Hippies Triumph” speeds things up ever so slightly, offering a behemoth groove and visions of tie-dye and smoke. The title track is basically a combination of the first two songs, offering a slower verse and closer to mid-tempo “chorus”, with one hell of a rocking solo. I put chorus in quotations because COUNT RAVEN doesn’t really offer up choruses in the traditional sense, but rather has a repetitious chorus melody that will be heard at various points throughout the song, with different lyrics each time. Some of the songs have a normal chorus, but those are more the exception than the norm.
As for album highlights, I’ll go ahead and be clichéd, and tell you that every proper song is ace (the two shorter instrumentals, “Northern Lights” and “Europa”, are nice, but nothing terribly special). However, one song pretty much leaves the rest in the dust. “Leaving The Warzone” is an absolutely monumental Doom track – nearly seven minutes of bliss. The soft, somewhat creepy verses give way to a heavier than hell chorus, with lyrics telling of a saddened, war-torn land. This song, my friends, is what Doom is all about. As for one more check out tip, the verses of “No Ones Hero” are a bit peculiar up against the rest of the album, almost taking on a sort of proto-Thrash sound. They are definitely the speediest parts of the album.
With my copy of “Destruction Of The Void” being the remastered reissue, I would be remiss not to mention the two bonus tracks, taken from the band’s 1989 demo, “Indignus Famulus”. Both of these tracks are quite enjoyable, but while still pretty heavy, are much more deeply rooted in 70s Hard Rock and the early parts of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. However, it’s still pretty killer stuff, and definitely leaves me wanting to hear more of said demo.
With “Destruction Of The Void” COUNT RAVEN unleashed one of Doom’s greatest albums. It flawlessly pays very close homage to the genre’s founders in BLACK SABBATH, while retaining it’s own identity. Any fan of traditional Doom, or just well-written, well-played old-school styled Heavy Metal, will absolutely not be disappointed with this album. Very highly recommended.
(Online May 28, 2009)