By Kyle Harcott
Playing a style of raw black metal that isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, Greece’s Ravencult has nonetheless put out a noteworthy sophomore full-length in Morbid Blood. This is virulent kriegsmusik; adrenaline-jacked, wulven svartmetal that aims its pointy teeth straight for the listener’s soft pink underbelly and tears indiscriminately until its guts are strewn steaming on the ground. The unrepentant bastard sonic offspring of a dozen other bands you’ll recall while listening to this, Ravencult make good on delivering devastating, hostile, filthy-black blackthrash.
From the instant ‘Sacrilege of Death’ blasts its way through the door -splintering it to kindling- there’s not a moment’s respite; this is relentless hassensinfonie in all its black-blooded glory. I am instantly reminded of the last few Watain albums, and I say this as highest compliment- just because it is not original, doesn’t mean it is not good. Whether Ravencult’s sense of homage is meant to flatter their predecessors or simply borrow liberally from them, they carry the torch well.
With a production drenched in blistering mid-range, the infernal guitars are forefront in the mix on Morbid Blood, which is a treat on tracks like the aforementioned ‘Sacrilege…’ because there are some very tasty, halfway-from-Motörhead licks being dropped in there. We’re then dropkicked into thrashier territory with ‘Possessed on Burial Ground’, but the best is still yet to come. ‘Hail Revenge’ is a standout, an ugly opus that drops out into a crawling midsection, with broad sweeping guitar strokes that evoke some kind of demonic Bataan-death-march. The title track again plays into thrashy, vaguely-Motörheaded territory, with a main riff that turns ‘Ace of Spades’ inside out and jacks it full of more speed and menace. The vocals of frontman Linos are noteworthy as well; he pulls off the requisite sounds of snarling, choking hatred with startling aplomb, and his vocals give the album a huge chunk of its scathing personality.
As hate-blast-fantastic as all of the tracks on Morbid Blood are, I find it’s those songs where Ravencult lays back a bit and doesn’t insist on hammering the listener to death with relentless blastbeats that are the most interesting. ‘With Hunger in Eyes’ is a prime example of this – it’s in no way less vicious than the blasters, even at a slower tempo. Same goes for ‘Sworn to the Unspoken Oath’, its power and fury howling clearly through its decreased pace (though the song does bear striking similarity to another well-known ‘Sworn-to-the’-titled track).
Morbid Blood, as unrepentantly familiar as it sounds, is regardless a formidable slab of raging blackened thrash that makes up for its obvious deficit in originality with a vehement overkill-passion that is undeniable.