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Ravage - "The End of Tomorrow" (CD)

Ravage - "The End of Tomorrow" CD cover image

"The End of Tomorrow" track listing:

1. The Halls of Madness
2. Reign Fall
3. Freedom Fighter
4. Damn Nation
5. The Shredder
6. Into The Shackles
7. In Shattered Dreams
8. The Nightmare's Hold: Part 1
9. Nightcrawler
10. The Nightmare's Hold: Part 2
11. Grapes of Wrath
12. The End of Tomorrow

Reviewed by on August 24, 2009

"Ravage certainly is good at their craft, and they should be, with most of the band having played together for seven or eight years at least. "

Brothers Al and Eli formed Ravage in the middle of the 1990’s as young teenagers with the hope of playing old school metal to “crush the insipid alterna-grunge music craze.” While clearly they were not very successful with their overall goal, they did have success gaining a following in their hometown of Boston. They rode that popularity to release their first EP in 2003 and their first full-length album in 2005. Four years, and lots of legwork later, the band returns with their second full length album “The End of Tomorrow.” While the band members are now just in their mid-twenties, the music they play sounds like it is older than they are.

Ravage combines NWOBHM, late 1980’s thrash, and European power metal influences to create a sound that is fairly unique, but still intimately familiar. Right off the bat the album is clear in its origins. The first three songs, including standout “Freedom Fighter,” are easy apes of Judas Priest and Iron Maiden, complete with the galloping riffs and dual-lead guitars carrying the anthemic melodies. But the comparison is not a negative one, as the songs sound as modern as they do old. Be it the band’s energy, the strong production, or just the fact that this area of metal is not one that has seen much play lately; the songs are fresh and vibrant.

The unofficial “Nightmare Suite,” which is comprised of “The Nightmare’s Hold” parts one and two along with “Nightcrawler,” is eleven minutes of pure head banging ecstasy. Al Ravage kicks it off with a high pitched shriek, and Guitarists Eli Joe and Nick Izzo set down a dexterous riff that lays patiently for Al to sing, and then bursts forth with fits of fret board fury. The short “The Nightmare’s Hold: Part 1” melds seamlessly into the central pillar of the triptych, “Nightcrawler,” which then transfers back to “The Nightmare’s Hold: Part 2.” Whether “Nightcrawler” is based on the X-men character or is just more generally about scary nighttime things is irrelevant – it rips. Al’s vocals are fierce and full of vengeance, while the guitars kick the assault into an even higher gear. The squealing guitar fills are rivaled only by the incessant pounding of the underlying riffs and soaring solos.

Ravage certainly is good at their craft, and they should be, with most of the band having played together for seven or eight years at least. Their songs are tight and well written, filled with section shifts and musical themes that are meaty, yet easily digestible at the same time. But there are also some less-than-rosy moments too. The production is polished, but the mix makes Howie Snow’s bass and GTB’s drums almost irrelevant. GTB is really only noticed on the occasional drum fill, and although his double-kick drums sound good, it is hard to tell for sure. Snow really only serves to keep the galloping rhythm rolling, and is mixed far back in the final product. Vocalist Al Ravage sings loud and proud, and has a distinct tone and delivery that works very well, but does not have much melodic range and is challenged by anything that strays into the upper register at all.

Songs like “Reign Fall,“ “Freedom Fighter,” and the title track are all well written pieces, but there are some that are not as strong. The band is best when they let fly full-force. Songs with intermittent slower tempos bog the boys down. “Damn Nation” ends up as a morass of riffs with nowhere to go, all falling over each other, although the dual guitar solo is well done. “Into the Shackles” shares the same problem, with all the band members tripping over themselves with restraint. The riffs during the verses on “In Shattered Dreams” sound skinny and insufficient to support the band’s big sound, and they finally find their stride right before the song ends.

Ravage has the highest of highs, the bridge and solo in “Nightcrawler” is just one of many peaks, but certainly is not perfect either. Ultimately none of that matters. High flying guitars, fist pounding choruses, lyrics about fights and scary stuff – it all combines into a fantastic ride aboard the best classic metal resurrection in a long time.

Highs: The aggressive old school metal anthems are fist-pumping good.

Lows: The band has a tough time branching out successfully from their core fast and thrashy style.

Bottom line: A fantastic album that calls back the days when guitars sang about wizards and warriors.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)