Ravenage – Hardrada’s Fall EP [2008]

Band: Ravenage
Album: Hardrada’s Fall
Release year: 2010
Genre: Viking Metal/Folk Metal/Yorkshire Metal

Since making their debut on the UK metal scene, Ravenage have been carving themselves an epic saga of Viking Metal. The latest chapter in their saga is their debut EP “Hardrada’s Fall”, entirely based around Harald Hardrada’s ill-fated invasion of England.

The opening track is “Northern Scheme”, an entire orchestral track which sets a most epic atmosphere before the brutal onslaught begins. “Northern Scheme” is the type of track you’d expect to hear on the soundtrack of a film like “Gladiator”. The second track is “Viking Dream” which begins with a rousing death metal styled war cry combined with a brutal guitar intro and an epic keyboard section. The drums increase the heaviness of the track, while the vocals keep it brutal. The keyboard and guitar sections have a brilliant epic sound to them and the guitar solo just perfects this track.

“Three Hundred Ships, Ten Thousand Men” begins with an excellent combination of drums, choirs and the sound of the tides. The introduction of guitars and vocals on the track elevates the sheer brilliance of the composition and sound. While the bass section near the middle of the track is unexpected, it brings a small amount of excitement upon the ears before the track turns brutal. The keyboard sections keep the melody within the track, whilst adding that extraa hint of epic. The conversation between the character of Hardrada and one of his men towards the end of the track keeps the track interesting while keeping true to the sound and concept of the EP. The track finishes with a piece of poetry speaking of the battle between the Saxons and Vikings at Stamford Bridge.

The title track “Hardrada’s Fall” is next. It begins with an epic keyboard intro, combined with the character of Hardrada speaking of his death and his ancestors awaiting for him in the corpse hall. The track soon turns heavy and brutal. There is a use of clean vocals, which adds a very folk metal element to the track. The drums and guitars work well with the melodic keyboard sections. The guitr solo is one of the highlights of this track.

“Ravenser” begins with the sound of birds singing, combined with a fast-paced keyboard intro which turns out to be the calm before the storm on this track. The track soon turns heavy, with the guitars and drums working with the keyboard sections. With the introduction of the vocals, the track takes more of a melancholy sound but this doesn’t stop it from been a great track. There is more use of clean vocals on this track as well, which gives it that epic folk metal feel. The chorus of this track is very hypnotic, especially when the aggresive vocals perform it. “Ravenser” is certainly the best track of the EP. “The Pyre” is the final track of the EP. Just like the opening track, this is entirely orchestrated. It has some-what of sorrowful sound to it. This track is a brilliant way to end this EP.

“Hardrada’s Fall” is a brilliant combination of metal, historical fact and folklore. Each track breathes new life into the tale of how Hardrada came to England only to meet his ill-fate at Stamford Bridge. The production values of the EP are just amazing and the sound couldn’t get any better. Ravenage have clearly done the tale Hardrada’s fall justice.

5/5

Nico Davidson

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