Archive for Ravenage

Warhorns 2014 announced

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 23rd June 2014 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

The third edition of the annual Warhorns Festival has been announced. Unlike the previous two years, Warhorns 2014 will take place in Selby, near York, at The Riverside on Saturday 20th September. Announced so far for the festival are York’s mercenary metallers Sellsword as well as Nottingham pirate metallers Red Rum and Hullian black metal outfit Aloeswood. Other bands are to be announced including the headliner and ticket information will be available in the near future.

Ravenage release lyric video plus announced for Bloodstock 2013

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 22nd June 2013 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Heathen metal band Ravenage have recently released the lyric video for their song The Road To Retribution (Northbound Part II) that will be featured on their upcoming album which is currently untitled. The song is inspired by Bernard Cornwell‘s Saxon Stories series which follows the tale of Uhtred Bebbanberg. The video can be viewed below.

In related Ravenage news the band have been confirmed to play on the Jagermeister Acoustic Stage at this year’s Bloodstock Open Air. This will be the band’s first Bloodstock appearance in five years. Ravenage will also headline the first night of Valkyrian Festival in November.

Ravenage online:

http://www.officialravenage.com
https://www.facebook.com/officialravenage/

 

Warhorns: Day Two @ The Duchess, York

Posted in Festival, Live with tags , , , , , on 7th October 2012 by vmteam

Skyforger, Wolfchant and more
The Duchess, York
22nd September 2012

Much to my regret, I didn’t make the first day of Warhorns Festival. However, on Saturday I was in York bright and early, determined to make up for lost time. Since the gig wound up starting around half an hour late anyway, I managed to get an excellent barrier vantage point for what turned out to be a unique opening performance, courtesy of two one-man bands that had joined forces and found some session musicians just for the occasion. England’s Aloeswood, the project of Ravenage‘s Danny “Dagstyrr” Downing, had teamed with North Carolina’s Desiderium (whose mastermind Michael Rumple had flown himself in at frightening expense to be here) for a one-off joint show that I felt privileged to witness, since apparently Aloeswood at least never intend to play live again.

Which is a great shame, because their half of the set was stunning. Aloeswood‘s sound is on the more reflective, moody side of the pagan metal style, defined by unhurried rhythms and flowing, lyrical guitars, filled with texture and interleaved melodies. While it’s always difficult to sing someone else’s material, Michael threw himself into the vocal parts with a will and his voice fitted well, leaving Danny free to give all his attention to his guitar – indeed, one highlight of the ensuing performance may well pass into metal myth. When during new track Winter Michael handed Danny a small metal spanner, we were all a bit confused. When Danny promptly applied the spanner to his strings, producing an absolutely amazing eBow-esque lead break that went on for several minutes, our jaws dropped in awe.

And then, after three tracks, Michael threw off his shirt, swapped places with Danny and announced “We’re now a completely different band!” Enter Desiderium, purveyors of an ambient-tinged, atmospheric black metal sound that followed surprisingly smoothly from Aloeswood‘s songs. Sadly it was obvious at once that this material had been less rehearsed (unsurprisingly, given the problem of the North Atlantic being in the way of any prior gatherings) but even so, the songs still came through and the passion that Michael threw into his performance was inspiring to see. I also had the pleasure of briefly meeting him and shaking his hand at the end of the set, and for my pains was gifted a copy of Desiderium‘s first album An Image of Solitude on limited edition cassette(!) Thank you Michael, if you read this, I was genuinely thrilled by that.

The challenge of following this demented double-bill went to Scotland’s Morlich, who are an alarmingly young-looking collective peddling a melodic folk/black metal sound that promises a great deal of potential just waiting to be fulfilled. While they’re a little short on stage presence that’s a skill that tends to come with experience, and their guitarist Corvus possesses a real gift for conveying emotion in his solos. Definitely ones to watch – and a source of more free music, as they were giving away demo CDs for their new album at the end. Thanks lads, can’t wait to hear the final version!

Third up were Shallow Intentions; whose set I got completely caught up in and really enjoyed, as they play an accessible brand of fast, rattling, danceable viking metal – complete with costumes and warpaint – that’s tailor-made for enthusiastic headbanging and horn-throwing. Their technical excellence wasn’t the best, unfortunately, but their charisma and energy carried them across a few minor missteps without too much trouble and they got a warm response from a cheerful crowd. A fine, entertaining performance with no pretensions.

Following this were Ireland’s Celtachor, who were the only band of the day who really didn’t work for me. Part of this was because their already aggressive sound was being mangled by the PA into a nigh-impenetrable wall of noise and I was having trouble actually hearing the songs, but given that, their frontman’s Celtic berserker routine proved more of a hindrance than a help. His glaring and exhortations were so vigorous that he really seemed at times like he hated every single one of us, and the intimidation factor that resulted wasn’t helping my attempts to focus on the music and pick out what was going on. Eventually, half deaf and not much the wiser, I admitted defeat and retreated to the back to catch my breath.

However, next after Celtachor were one of the main reasons I was here in the first place: Ravenage, the band of Warhorns organiser Glyn “The Heralder”. And truly, they did not disappoint me. With a newly energised lineup, having recently replaced their bassist and got keyboardist Windrider back after a lengthy hiatus while he toured with Alestorm, they opened up with all dials set to eleven and never slowed down for a second. Thankfully the PA issues that had afflicted Celtachor seemed to have disappeared, and they blasted unhindered through such anthems as Viking Dream, Northbound Part I, and the inevitable More Beer, and also finally gave us Northbound Part II which we’ve all been waiting for ever since Part I came out. The best thing about the set for me, though, was finally seeing them with Windrider, as he’s been absent at both previous Ravenage shows I’ve seen (no disrespect of course to the legendary Articus, who’s been filling in!); watching him play his heart out, eyes closed and hair flying, was beautiful to see, and it was immediately clear how much his presence adds to their performance. A truly triumphant return to form for one of the best rising bands in English metal.

Indeed, Ravenage effectively headlined the British Isles section of the night, since the top tier of the bill had been reserved for those bands who’d come a good deal further to play. First came Belgium’s Angeli di Pietra – defining themselves as “powerfolk” and with no fewer than seven members including both male and female dedicated vocalists, they won the crowd over in the space of about five seconds flat with their charm and energy. While their chosen genre tag is certainly apt, they never let the power metal side of their sound get over the top and the results were gloriously melodic while still heavy enough to keep the Warhorns crowd entertained. Despite the number of people they were squeezing onto the Duchess’s crowded stage they even managed to move around and make some use of the space, which also impressed me. And I’ve seldom seen a band so visibly overwhelmed by a crowd’s welcome for them – summed up when vocalist Guy was teaching us the words to the singalong for Onwards to Asgard, and after a single round of “Onwards-” “-TO ASGARD!” shook his head in amazement and declared “That was perfect, let’s go!” An equally unanimous and correct response greeted the demand “Whom among you is the one they call Spartacus?”, leading into a track called, of course, “I Am Spartacus”, and occasioning plenty of laughter and cheering in the process. Fun, heartwarming and a welcome breath of fresh air, I’d be delighted to see this band again if they return to our shores.

Equally excellent, though requiring a swift change of mental gears, were Germany’s Wolfchant. I wondered what was up when the entire front section of the stage was cleared of all but a single micstand, but when Wolfchant came crashing on, all became clear. Their thunderous, no-frills, pagan Metal-with-a-capital-M sound is huge and so are they, even the smallest and slightest of the band having a physique that wouldn’t disgrace a pro wrestler. Like Angeli Di Pietra they have two dedicated vocalists, in this case both male; I’d consider that excessive in most bands, but Lokhi and Nortwin are an amazing team, throwing the vocal lines to each other with split-second synchronisation and performing as a seamless double act to whip the crowd into a frenzy. Even a cover of Grave Digger’s Rebellion didn’t slow things down, overclocked until it sounded perfectly in place. Definitely the wildest it got all night, the air dripping with testosterone, fury and pagan pride, the front rows going berserk (including me) and the whole thing culminating in a near riot both onstage and off when what seemed like half the performing presence at Warhorns were invited onstage for a storming performance of Never Too Drunk. If you ever get the chance to see this band live, don’t miss it; the experience is a treat.

Physically demanding as Wolfchant‘s set was, I’d hardly got my breath back by the time Skyforger came on. Foolishly I’d abandoned my barrier spot between bands and discovered I couldn’t get it back, as every Latvian fan present (of whom there were an impressive number) had charged down to the front while I was gone. So I saw Skyforger from three rows back, which was fine. What might have been less fine was the fact that they’ve recently lost their folk instrumentalist, meaning that the Skyforger you get onstage nowadays is doing with guitars everything that used to be done with traditional instruments; but as it worked out, I was delighted to realise that with the folk gloss partially lifted from their powerful, epic sound, lurking underneath is a huge helping of classic eighties metal influences ranging from Slayer to Iron Maiden. They sounded flawless, and you would never have known they hadn’t been playing that way for their whole career. Their stage presentation is inspirational, too – richly dressed in medieval-style costume, frontman Pēteris resplendent in his black and scarlet, they dominated the stage with the confidence and presence of veterans, needing no theatrics to support them.

And apparently, there’s crowds, there’s partisan crowds, and then there’s Skyforger fans. The front rows were lapping it up with an obsessive devotion, and there was even a large Latvian flag making the rounds a row or two back. The acclaim that greeted tracks like the beautiful Migla Migla, Rasa Rasa was deafening, and to hear a crowd singing along in flawless Latvian in an English venue made me proud to call myself a fan of this amazing, borderless music that we call heavy metal. Skyforger and their fans truly exemplified the spirit of the Warhorns Festival, and I can’t praise them enough. A perfect end to a perfect night.

So in closing, I’d just like to extend all thanks and honour to Glyn and Marc who organised this amazing event, and I can’t wait for the next gig under the Warhorns banner.

Kit Rathenar [Destructive Music]

Band of the Month: Ravenage [09/2012]

Posted in Band Of The Month with tags , , , , , , , on 8th September 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Following an epic battle of votes, none other than Hull-based Viking warband Ravenage came out as the victor.

Formed back in the cold winter nights of 2007, the band have gone on to forge together a unique, powerful and epic sound, along with three releases under their sword belts. Ravenage have also shared the stage with the likes of Skyclad and Hecate Enthroned, as well as Viking metal heavyweights Tyr. Later this month, Ravenage will also be partaking in the first ever Warhorns festival, where they will be playing with the likes of Skyforger, Nothgard and Wolfchant, as well as Cryptic Age, Old Corpse Road and Norderobring.

So, if you like your metal loud, heavy, melodic, vicious and more epic than Lord of the Rings, Ravenage are well worth checking out.

http://facebook.com/officialravenage

“Sounds Of Infinity” Album Launch @ Fibbers, York

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , on 17th June 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Cryptic Age, Ravenage
Fibers, York
26th May 2012

Having been fans of Cryptic Age since seeing them play the Bloodstock Metal 2 the Masses heat in Selby last year, my friends and I were anticipating the ‘Sounds of Infinity’ launch with excitement. The line-up on the bill did not disappoint. In fact, the evening was so enjoyable that we christened the evening ‘Yorkstock’. Unfortunately, I was not able to see the first or third bands of the evening – due to arriving shortly before Ravenage began their set and human needs for food and alcohol.

Ravenage’s unique blend of medieval-inspired folk metal was catchy and infused the crowd with excitement. Taking to the stage, the band created instant impact with plain medieval tunics. This could be gimmicky for a band who lacked the talent to back it up – however, Ravenage’s members possess talent in spades. They also don’t become too hyperbolic with the image so it adds to the overall effect of their music – rather than detracting – and is fun, rather than cheesy.

When watching Ravenage, their prolific stage experience is clear. They are tighter than medieval churches’ thumbscrews and their stage presence is second to none – even including bands signed to major labels. Their solidity as a unit is driven by the talented drummer ‘Eldgrim’, who engineers the machine steadily forward throughout the set. (More on ‘Eldgrim’ later, in his set as Cryptic Age’s drummer). Bassist ‘Ragnar’ expertly provides the glue that adheres the lead section to the drums. Ragnar does more as a bassist than simply provide root notes, adding a unique dimension to the music.

Guitarists ‘Dagstyrr’ and ‘Einar’ proficiently make their guitars sing, cry, laugh and tell a thousand stories of times long forgotten. Their melodies are catchy, which is necessary for a band that is so close to black metal in genre. It is keyboardist ‘Windrider’ who cements the band’s identifiable sound as so unique. Though rarely used as a lead instrument, the atmosphere generated through well-chosen effects and distinctive harmonies furthers the archaic image of the band. Windrider also skilfully adds deep, growling backing vocals to highlight and counterplay key phrases.

Vocalist ‘Glyn the Heralder’ is a gifted frontman and works the crowd like silly putty, vigorously moving across the stage. Glyn’s powerful, aggressive, growled vocals are melodic and his lyrics are always clear. He adeptly manipulates his voice, both on longer, extended phrases and on faster lyrics that fire, with machine-gun intensity, at the crowd.

Overall, Ravenage were a thoroughly enjoyable experience, like getting out of a bath of mead and wrapping yourself in a blanket of homespun cotton. They certainly left the crowd enthusiastic both for ‘More Beer’ – and for more metal!

The Germans are well known for creating long words that encompass ideas (e.g. schadenfreude). To adapt this phenomenon to English – and to describe Cryptic Age – the best word would be ‘MysteriousepicmelodicfolkCelticdifferentprogressivemetal’.

Adorning the stage were large banners of the album’s cover art, advertising the CD, further adding to the festival atmosphere. Despite somewhat cramping the stage, they definitely looked impressive and professional. There isn’t another band quite like Cryptic Age but their performance on the 26th definitely put them in the league with bands such as Nightwish and Within Temptation.

Drummer Alex Bransden (recovered from his set with Ravenage) was a metronome, ably managing numerous tempo and time signature changes, driving the band’s performance forward. He skilfully shifts between tribal-like drumming, steady, driving beats and faster, almost thrash-like double kick.

The bass guitar is an often overlooked instrument. When bands have only a single guitar (as Cryptic Age does), the bassist’s normal duties double. Tom Keeley provided a solid, driving engine, an almost thrumming, pulsing beat, while still providing some countermelody and harmony. He also seemed to be genuinely enjoying himself, grinning from ear to ear and headbanging his way through the set.

Hallam Smith’s guitar work was spectacular – he pulled double duty both as a rhythm player beneath keyboard solos and as a lead instrument. His rhythm work was solid and driving and he clearly enjoys an intuitive relationship with Keeley. His lead work ranged from intricate and technical to passionate and emotive – while technically an extremely skilled player, Smith is able to express, through six strings, a gauntlet of emotions, adding to the dramatic effect of the music.

As with Ravenage, it is the keyboards (and folky melodies) that really set Cryptic Age apart from other metal bands. Frontwoman and keyboardist Jenny Green utilises well-chosen effects and has skilfully chosen melodies that conjure up a variety of images – from a wind-swept plain to an Irish pub to a fairy realm to a classical concert hall.  Green’s keyboard expertise was clearly prevalent on the 26th – they sounded the same live as they do on the recording. The band makes use of Green’s skills effectively, including long, instrumental sections that still have a lot of variety, holding the audience’s interests.

Of course, Green’s main function is to serve as a vocalist and frontwoman. She has a wonderfully effortless coloratura soprano voice, easily climbing up to top Bs and Cs without sounding like she is straining. The image her voice conjures up is of someone reclining on a cloud – high, relaxed and floating. Her voice easily sits on top of the music, pitch-perfect – and it really is its own instrument, telling its own stories. Fortunately as well, due to clever orchestration (and talent) Green is able to perform both keyboard and vocalist duties to a high standard, so that the one does not detract from the other.

Overall, Cryptic Age’s ‘Sounds of Infinity’ album launch was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, further solidifying their place as a talented, unique band ready to take the world by storm.

“Take me away / let me be free / show me the way / to infinity.” That you did, Cryptic Age. That you certainly did.

Melissa ‘Aonia’ Adams

Warhorns Festival Update

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on 15th March 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

We just received news that tickets for Warhorns Festival in York, later this year, should be available on sale soon, well, tomorrow by the earliest. In addition to this, Aloeswood, the solo project of Ravenage guitarist and Windrider drummer Danny Downing, will be making their live debut on the first night of the festival, Friday 21st September.

The line-up now, so far, includes Wolfchant, Nothgard, Ravenage, Old Corpse Road, Annwn, Windrider, Aloeswood and last but not least Cryptic Age.

Warhorns Festival will take place at The Duchess in York on 21st and 22nd September. For more details and news updates, visit the Warhorns Facebook page or just click here.

Týr w/Support @ Fibbers, York

Posted in Gig, Live with tags , , , , , , , , , on 21st February 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Bands: Týr, Ravenage and Maelstrom
Location: Fibbers, York
Date: 18th February 2012

The Jorvik Viking Festival has been a proud tradition and mighty festival in the City of York for many, many years now, so what could be a more epic way to end this year’s festival with none other than Faroese Viking metallers Týr? The show, which sold out, was organised by the nice folk over at Asgard Online (who sponsored Valkyrian Festival last year). After my interview with Týr’s frontman Heri, I waited outside with the rest of the horde that virtually filled the street. By the time I got inside, the venue must have been reaching its capacity as more and more people trooped in along with several people dressed in Viking apparel which included shirts of chainmail. The buzz of excitement could be felt in every corner of the room as the horde eagerly awaited the first wave of a metal assault.

Opening the proceedings with a brutalising onslaught  were the Glaswegian black metal warriors Maelstrom. They opened up with a little song known as At Dawn They Die, a song that featured a truly terrifyingly good use of powerful screams and clean vocals. The guitar and keyboard riffs were executed perfectly like a dagger slitting a throat with precision. The shirt-and-tie wearing quintet then blasted their way through With War We Wander, a quite Turisas sounding track, especially where the keyboards are concerned. The third song they performed, currently unnamed, was quite aggressive sounding though This Dreaded Symphony sounded to have more bite while their final song of the night, Arctica, seemed to the most tragic and cold sounding part of Maelstrom’s set though the keyboards injected a subtle hint of a sagaic sound. One band in and the night was already proving to be an epic event worthy of the Aesir themselves, especially considering Maelstrom’s overwhelming and unique sound. I certainy hope to see these guys again in the near future!

The second invasion of metal came from Hull’s very own Ravenage, who over the years have become one of East Yorkshire’s finest exports and one hell of a live act! This was the fourth time that I had seen them perform and I was sorely disappointed at the length of their set. Their keyboardist, Windrider, was absent as he was touring with Alestorm, so he had been replaced for the night by his mentor whose is known simply as Art. Ravenage made way to the stage in their trademark outfits and opened up with Viking Dream which was sounding more brutal than a mace to the face. The guitars felt like they had a bit of extra crunch as well. Following soon after was the catchy Bernard Cornwell-inspired anthem known as Northbound, which Art pulled off brilliantly and would have made Windrider proud. Ragnar recited a poem that led into the eerie introduction of Shieldwalls Collide. Ravenage finished off with a heavy rendition of Drunken Sailor which led into the final song More Beer! While the performance was grand and epic – as is to be expected with Ravenage – their set seemed lacking. I’m not sure if this was due to the shortness of their set compared to previous shows or the size of the stage that made it hard for them to be active as they have been at other shows. Either way, they were the perfect choice of main support for Týr. Sadly for the York folk, it won’t be until September for the Warhorns Festival when Ravenage return. 

And then came the fury of the Northmen in the form of Týr. I literally had to fight through the hordes of fans, including several blokes in chainmail, to get near the front. A fierce roar of cheers erupted through the venue as they tore through The Lay of Thrym followed by Shadow of the Swastika. During the performance of those two songs, the energy burst from Týr like an explosion. Straight, away, it was easy that the performance was going to be epic as Heri’s vocals were on top form and each note and drum section were played masterfully. They took a quick break to engage in banter with the crowd before playing the catchy song that is Flames of the Free. By the Light of the Northern Star and Wings of Time were certainly two of the most exciting parts of Týr’s set, along with one of my favourite song’s which was the slower-paced, more progressive sounding Hail to the Hammer. The performance of Tróndur Í Gøtu brought a very folkish sound to the set that seemed to go down very well with the sold-out venue. A few songs later came a powerful and overwhelming performance of Take Your Tyrant which almost everyone in the crowd sang along to, making it much more entertaining while others began dancing around and starting a mosh pit, including some of the blokes in Viking-styled chainmail. Sinklars Visa was introduced by Heri having a bit of banter about the Scots, which enticed a group of Scots at the front to hold up the Scottish flag in true patriotic fashion. The cover of The Wild Rover was introduced in a similar fashion, only with banter and jokes about the Irish as opposed to the Scots. Týr ended their set with Northern Gate and Hall of Freedom… Or so it seemed. Every single person in the crowd began demanding more and more. The encore began with a smashing rendition of Ramund Hin Hunge followed by Hold The Heathen Hammer High and By The Sword In My Hand, both of which just made the night complete.

I think I can safely say that Týr are the best live act I’ve seen and I don’t think their studio albums will ever compare to their performance on Saturday night. Týr are definitely a band worth seeing, hell, they’re more than worth seeing. I don’t think I’d be wrong when I say their show on Saturday night could easily compare to an Iron Maiden performance.

The support acts, Ravenage and Maelstrom, are definitely two bands worth checking out as well and they certainly helped make the end of this year’s Jorvik Viking Festival very special indeed. Also, kudos to Asgard Online for a successful first gig.

Nico Davidson

Photography by David Taylor.

Photos of the gig can be found here.

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