Ever since I first laid ears on Robert Liapakis’ vocals back during his VALLEY’S EVE days (their debut “Prodigia” from 1997 still is an outstanding Prog Metal jewel any fan of accessible Prog should check out!), I loved his vocals and that did not change, when he kind of left VALLEY’S EVE to found MYSTIC PROPHECY. For some reason I never managed to listen to their debut “Vengeance”, but from “Regressus” on I thoroughly enjoyed the dark and heavy kind of Power Metal they purveyed, culminating in my personal favourite “Satanic Verses” back in 2009.
Now the quintet is back with “Ravenlord” and they have gone little darker still and musically they have taken their Power Metal even further from what generally is perceived as such (namely the STRATOGAMMAWEEN and RHAPSODY kind) by letting Thrash Metal riffing, some Melodic Death Metal rhythms and a few growls infiltrate their already heavier-than-genre-standard sound, which shows that you can combine the epicness and melodies of Power Metal with other ingredients than the at times floral syrup that some bands lather their sound with (not that I do not like my fair share of florality, mind you ;)).
And the opening title track is one of my favourite Power Metal songs of the year 2011, stomping, heavy riffing and the shout chorus that contrasts Liapakis’ as usual excellent vocals, just love it! At times, though, it sometimes seems as if the focus on adding heaviness happened at the expense of the melody, as “Die Now” showcases, where we see the band at their most aggressive so far and it falls a little flat in my book. But that thankfully is the only song that can’t keep up with the rest, maybe also because Liapakis’ voice does not really get the chance to shine in favour of a more aggressive note, which I hope it just an experiment and not a herald where the guys want to go in the future.
What strikes with any degree of heaviness infused into their songs (with the exception of just mentioned “Die Now”), is that the choruses are always highly melodic and catchy, but without sliding off into the obnoxious category, instead showing a very nice contrast to the often more aggressive verses, giving MYSTIC PROPHECY a good part of their appeal, also independent of the tempo. Be it mid-paced material such as “Eyes Of The Devil” or “Hollow”, uptempo crackers in the shape of “Damned Tonight” or the duo of “Cross Of Lies” and especially “Reckoning Day” or the surprising, yet highly efficient slower approach of “Wings Of Destiny” each track shows the same kind of quality but without repeating another, another sign of highly developed penmanship. And the band has one more surprise up their sleeve in form of “Miracle Man”, originally by Ozzy Osbourne, you just have to love it when a band makes a song their own and succeed, I’m sure you’ve never heard this track so fast and so aggressive, love it!
So if your mind does not want to go epic and bombastic, but neither wants to miss out on great melodies and catchy choruses and feels the need for some grit and crunch in the metallic cereal, then MYSTIC PROPHECY’s “Ravenlord” is something for you, give in to the darkness and join us...
(Online January 27, 2012)