Ravenia – “Beyond the Walls of Death”


ravenia_artwork_1600_f62Not often does one come across an “epic film-score metal band” and one from Finland, no less, but that is Ravenia, and they have released their debut full length album Beyond the Walls of Death.

The Finnish band Ravenia was founded in 2013 by singer Armi Paivenen and guitarist Samuli Reinikainen. Not long after in 2014, the band, then just Armi and Samuli released a two song ep Wingless and since then has released a couple of singles including one full orchestral song, “The Fallen”, which also appears in a different form on the debut album Beyond the Walls of Death. For this debut full length, Ravenia added a number of other musicians, including several string players, and worked with those who have previously been involved in albums similar in nature. The album was mixed by Nino Laurenne (Ensiferum, Winter Sun, Battle Beast) at Sonic Pump Studios in Finland and mastered by Svante Forsback (Volbeat, Sonata Arctica, Apocalyptica) at Chartmakers. Artwork for the album even has a similar feel and look to related artists as it was done by Jan Yrlund (Korpiklaani, Forsbäck “Beyond The Walls Of Death” was mixed by Nino Laurenne [Wintersun, Battle Beast, Ensiferum] at Sonic Pump Studios and mastered by Svante Forsbäck [Volbeat, Sonata Arctica, Apocalyptica] at Chartmakers. The album artwork was created by Jan Yrlund [Korpiklaani, Apocalyptica, Leah].Leah, Apocalyptica).

Not knowing Ravenia, from the outset, I was sure this was going to be a female-fronted symphonic metal band along the likes of Nightwish, Epica, and Leah. As it turns out I was partly correct in that assumption as Ravenia features strong, beautiful, and at times haunting vocals similar to those bands, but the symphonic metal part is more along the lines of over-the-top full out orchestral.  Throughout the album the metal component in their sound is more of an accent the way that many other symphonic metal bands use the orchestral and keyboard elements.  Taking a look at the band member list, it does become clear that the majority of band members are not your typical metal musicians.  First off, there are nine band members and nearly half are string musicians of the orchestral flavor and not the amplified type.  The band does describe their sound as “epic film-score metal” and that is entirely appropriate.  Throughout the songs, one can hear the metal guitars and drums especially, but they are generally muted with respect to the string section and vocals.

Given the description so far, one might not be too surprised to learn that the songs on the album average over six minutes in length and generally do follow the type of structure one would expect in movie soundtrack songs. Production is exceptionally clean as one would expect with this genre but the metal guitars and drums do provide a bit of grit to some of the tracks when given the chance, like in much of “There is But One Path” and “In Silence”.  In these two songs we get a clearer glimpse of the power that can be brought out of this style.

Unfortunately, given the length of the tracks and some of the sound similarities, the songs seemed to blend together to me, but given the quality of the musicianship and the beautiful voice of Armi Paivinen this is less of an issue than it would be for other bands. Songs build and crash and go through many twists and turns in tempo and direction to keep the listener’s interest. Throughout the album, I can’t help but picture how impressive this would look in a live setting.

Ravenia have managed to pull together a project that adds a bit of metal backing to some strong symphonic/orchestral compositions and results in an album that conveys a sense of majesty and power in a manner that is likely to appeal to symphonic metal fans and to fans who typically would stay away from anything that includes the word “metal” in the description.

Rating: 8/10

Track listing:
01. For Those We Forsakened
02. Into Oblivion
03. We All Died For Honor
04. There Is But One Path
05. In Silence
06. When Darkness Reigns
07. The Fallen
08. We Stand As One

Ravenia line-up:
Armi Päivinen – Vocals
Samuli Reinikainen – Guitars
Veikko Ringvall – Drums
Toni Hintikka – Bass
Ville Koponen – Violin
Erkki Lasonpalo – Violin
Janne Ahvenainen – Viola
Juuli Ilmonen – Cello
Tommi Laitinen – Contrabass

Ravenia discography:
2014: “Wingless” EP
2016: “Beyond The Walls Of Death”

Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings, April 2016

Weblinks: Facebook  / Website / Bandcamp / Twitter

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘We All Died for Honor’


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