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Raven Woods - "Enfeebling the Throne" (CD)

Raven Woods - "Enfeebling the Throne" CD cover image

"Enfeebling the Throne" track listing:

1. Zahir & Batin
2. Enfeebling the Throne
3. Breathless Solace
4. Ecstasy Through Carnage
5. Torture Palace
6. Upheaven-Subterranean
7. Inward Massacre
8. Stay (Dedicated to Evren Duskhunter - RIP)
9. The Grey Cold Shade
10. The Fading Trace
11. Azab-I-Mukaddes (featuring Mercan Dede)

Reviewed by on May 5, 2011

"Where Raven Woods shines, obviously, is when they bring their heritage to the table and distinguish themselves in the mix."

Five years ago, Turkish band Raven Woods released a very unusual debut LP, "...and Emotions are Spilled." It combined nicely integrated elements of mid-eastern stylings, thrash and retro-rock. Now in 2011, they have re-emerged with three new members, a new sound and their second LP, "Enfeebling the Throne."

The whole band, with the exception of the guitarist and bassist, is a new line-up. That being said, one can expect their sound to be different from past offerings. "Enfeebling the Throne" proves to be considerably different. After the filler intro track "Zahir and Batin" concludes, it is decidedly easy to see the differences. Previously, their sound was very much like middle eastern folk music blended with metal, and now they are going for a heavily-infused black metal sound.

Sailing through the title track and "Breathless Solace," Raven Woods has managed to put out formulaic black death metal that is passable, but directionless. By the time "Ecstasy Through Carnage" is underway, I see little of the Anatolian influences the band is known for. The faster drumming and decent rhythm guitar go in lockstep, but there is nothing truly memorable. Similarly, "Torture Palace" hammers down the riffs, but falls flat due to a lack of originality.

Thoroughly nonplussed, I was ready to throw in the towel when I got to "Upheaven-Subterranean" and things took a pleasant turn. This track actually marked the technical climax of the record, as everything turned around for the good. Here, Raven Woods mixes black metal with hauntingly-beautiful acoustic guitar, similar to how Destruction once did. "Stay" takes a slower, heavier pace and combines cool folk vocal interplay midway through, while "The Grey Cold Shade" sees vocalist Kaan singing in both his regular and death-thrash style amidst the backdrop of a trippy black/folk song. There are brief appearances by a female vocalist as well. "Azab-I-Mukaddes" is more acoustic guitar and flute in a concluding instrumental outro.

Among the second part of "Enfeebling the Throne" is a couple of intermediate-paced thrashers that vary from the solid flow of "Inward Massacre" to "The Fading Trace," an average-at-best tune. Where Raven Woods shines, obviously, is when they bring their heritage to the table and distinguish themselves in the mix. When they bolster the black/death sound with folk interludes that make them distinctly Eastern and unique, they have a winning formula. While half of "Enfeebling the Throne" did absolutely nothing for me, the other part of the CD totally redeemed itself and made me interested in hearing more from Raven Woods in the future.

Highs: Midway through the album, they shine with black/folk stylings

Lows: First half of the record is average black/death/thrash

Bottom line: When Raven Woods puts their personality and heritage in the mix, they are quite an interesting band

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 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)