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Of Raven & Ruins - "Bound To Prophecy" (CD)

Of Raven & Ruins - "Bound To Prophecy" CD cover image

"Bound To Prophecy" track listing:

1. Resonance (4:19)
2. Bound to Prophecy (5:10)
3. Dance of Disdain (3:14)
4. Abomination (Behold the Damned) (3:28)
5. The Animate Incarcerate (4:10)
6. Interlude (1:09)
7. Raven Knights (3:14)
8. Blood Feud Fields (3:52)
9. Atrophy of the Unavailing (3:08)
10. Salem's Wrath (3:15)
11. Shadowed in Silence (4:41)

Reviewed by on July 20, 2009

"Their debut album 'Bound To Prophecy' was recorded and released without the backing of a record label, but no one would be able to tell that just by listening to it or even by viewing their promotional material."

As the masters in the black and death metal genre start reaching their twilight, the time has come for a new crop of talent to manifest out of obscurity and bring out their own twists on heavy music. Of Raven & Ruins is unquestionably one of those bands that will be keeping the standard held high for new and old fans alike. Their debut album “Bound To Prophecy” was recorded and released without the backing of a record label, but no one would be able to tell that just by listening to it or even by viewing their promotional material. Nearly every aspect of their debut is of the highest quality, which leads one to wonder what they’d be capable of with a Nuclear Blast or Metal Blade behind them.

With two guitarists and a member devoted exclusively to keyboards, the obvious conclusion to reach would be that “Bound To Prophecy” is a symphonic black metal release. While there are unquestionably shades of the more keyboard-driven style of black metal laced throughout the album, Of Raven & Ruins is surprisingly more aligned towards the death metal side. If the keyboards were missing the album would be considered melodic death metal. And, like many more extreme releases lately, they also throw in a good dose of thrash for variety. The keyboards are a major factor in the music however, leading the style to more accurately be labeled as “symphonic death metal.” The music focuses on blending the guitars and the keyboards together, never letting either completely take over. The middle-of-the-road approach works in the band’s favor, as the keyboards never come off as a gimmick and the guitars never completely overshadow the symphonic elements.

Each of the songs carries their own unique sound, using the blend of guitar and keyboard in a slightly different way. Even when the music gets exceedingly heavy, the identity of each track never gets lost in the metal onslaught. One of the album’s highlights is “The Animate Incarcerate,” which uses a bubbling alchemical sound effect during the different segments of the song for an exceptionally eerie feel. The track brings together the sounds to give off an image straight from a horror movie, with the audience waiting for some horrible creature to burst out of the laboratory vats and bring their sanity blasting evil to bear. “Blood Feud Fields” goes in a completely different direction with the meshing of sounds, playing a beat that brings to mind colonial era soldiers marching to war. “Abomination (Behold the Damned)” heads off in yet another style, going for more of a medieval and folksy approach.

There is one slight misstep in the symphonic department, and that’s the interlude track creatively titled “Interlude.” The entire song consists only of keys, and seems a bit like it was added in just for the sake of having the requisite instrumental interlude. The album as a whole probably would have benefited more if they had taken the sounds in the interlude and found a way to work them into the other songs instead. It does work as a nice transition into the next track, “Raven Knights,” however.

“Bound To Prophecy” has many similarities in overall style to bands like Dimmu Borgir, Keep of Kalessin, and Gothmog, and fans of those bands should love what Of Raven & Ruins has to offer. The songs aren’t overly long, sticking to the perfect amount of time to get their point across before changing into the next track. The album also has some of that thrash bravado where the guitarists get to show off their skill and let the mood take a quick back seat. The band has showed that they are a force to be reckoned with in the symphonic metal genre, and it’s a good bet this won’t be last they have to offer.

Highs: Each track uses a different meshing of keyboard and guitar to give a unique sound

Lows: The interlude track seems unnecessary and a few of the songs could use better ending transitions for a smoother flow

Bottom line: A new force to be reckoned with in the symphonic metal genre. A must hear for fans of Dimmu Borgir, Keep of Kalessin, or Gothmog.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

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)