Count Raven

Mammons War

Written by: EW on 20/11/2009 17:26:43

To a great little fanfare have cult Swedish doomsters Count Raven reformed to release their first new music in 13 years after a period in which they released four heavily Black Sabbath influenced albums of the truest of doom between 1990 and 1996. I don't remember having seen any interviews or big announcements heralding their return which, unless I've just happened to miss them, is a pity because these guys could always have been relied upon for consistently high quality in their output before they split no doubt having sold no significant amount of albums in which to get close to surviving off.

According to the internets the band actually reformed back in 2003, which if true represents an extremely slow turn around in getting "Mammons War" out, even by doom standards. Though the 'band' of Count Raven circa-1990s is no more: this new reincarnation is long-time vocalist/guitarist Dan 'Fodde' Fondelius complemented by new guys Fredrik Jansson (bass) and Jens Bock (drums), and while it's disappointing the prior trio could not have got back together, anyone who's borne witness to the startling likeness between Fodde's vocals and that of a certain John 'Ozzy' Osbourne will accept the fact he is the most crucial cog in the Count Raven wheel. For what Count Raven are doing today is remarkably similar to what Count Raven have always perpetrated: slow, crunchy doom indelibly influenced by the old Birmingham godfathers of all metal, and that doesn't look like changing any time soon.

"Mammons War" really doesn't deviate much at all from the band's previous efforts. We have a slightly improved sound - crisper and cleaner as you would expect - but in all other essences this is the same beer-stained, long-haired retro doom that by the sounds of it Count Raven only know how to play. "The Poltergeist" is symptomatic of this, essentially being doom metal that feels somewhat both uplifting and bouncy in nature - no we are not talking the soul-crushing doom that I harbour a tendency for getting a little too excited over. Through "Scream" and a whole host of other tracks the band sound as a unit with no one instrument ever taking the precedence, but it is Fodde's impassioned and clear vocal performance that has always been the icing on the Raven cake. With other bands it could be interpreted as plagiarism; here it is simply hero worship and it is endearing to behold. As history would dictate with this band's past output we get a synth element playing its part too. Unusual for true doom it might be but in "Scream" such is its atmospheric subtlety it appears to be totally warranted, while the synth-based songs of "Mammons War" and "Increasing Deserts" are no "Northern Lights" from my favourite CR record, 1992's "Destruction Of The Void", but they break up the record nicely, helping to give Raven their unique element.

This reformation album is an all-round solid return for an under-recognised name in metal, but one I don't expect will shoot them into the consciousness of many in the younger doom generations. This is for the old-schoolers, those that still look as they did when Count Raven initially split up and those whose record collection is heavily weighted to vinyls over CDs. Hopefully a tour in support of "Mammons War" will do something to correct that judgement though...

7

Download: Seven Days, The Poltergeist
For The Fans Of: Black Sabbath, Pentagram, The Gates Of Slumber
Listen: Myspace

Release date: 31.08.2009
I Hate Records

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