The Riven - Blackbird70’s revival bands pop out of the ground like hallucinogenic mushrooms in this day and age, but despite making up half the population of the planet, there’s a somewhat depressing lack of female-fronted material. It’s an issue that has plagued rock and metal for decades, but when the annals contain such timeless talents as Heart and Janis Joplin, it doesn’t feel like a counterweight for all the testosterone should be too much to ask. Sure, we’re drowning in women-powered doom and symphonic metal, but where’s the beer-pounding old school swagger, huh? Clearly, The Riven agrees, and with a righteous attitude, they are now releasing a flavorful crumb of retro girl-powered heavy rock.

The five tracks on Blackbird are short, snappy, and more catchy than airborne ebola. The focal point of the band is the excellent vocal delivery of spiritual Heart descendant Charlotta Ekebergh who infuses the material with boisterous spirit. Her voice has a wonderful old-school timbre that resonates the most in the rebellious “Tower” and the fabulously unrestrained “Killer on the Loose,” which takes a cue from Di’Anno era Iron Maiden by adding just a pinch of punk influence. The other musicians are just as capable, though. The riffs are smart and lean, keeping the songs catchy and punchy. The bass and drums both keep up effortlessly and fully use the available space, bringing more to the table than just filling out the body and keeping time.

Still, the brunt is borne by the vocals, and the instrumental sections, such as the solos, are generally the weakest links in the songs. They’re not bad, but feel less inspired, and as soon as Charlotta opens her mouth it livens up the track considerably. It’s also why I consider the title track to be the weakest link; the bluesy arrangements are good but it makes me miss the unpretentious ballsiness of the leading lady, who doesn’t have as much room to really soar until the final act. It doesn’t truly hurt the EP overall though, as she gets plenty to do across the snappy 23 minutes.

The Riven 2017

The production is on the loud side, however, and doesn’t sound as old school as the band’s influences. A few instances irritate with some minor clipping problems too, such as the closer’s bass-heavy intro. On a brighter note, the mix is tight and the bass gets plenty of room, something I miss dearly in many modern metal bands. Furthermore, even though the spotlight is on the vocals, they don’t dominate the instruments, leaving room to breathe and for each to complement, rather than overpower, the other.

An important factor to why this EP succeeds is the sense of identity. Most throwback bands wind up feeling like an homage at best and derivative at worst. It’s difficult trying to embody the spirit of a very distinctive period in musical history and still be distinct and recognizable. The Riven manage, seemingly without trying, thanks to their punch and their confident delivery. While their influences are obvious, they embody their spirit and translate it into their own style and feel. Quite an achievement for a debut EP and a sure sign we can expect some great material from this band in the future.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Self Release
Websites: theriven.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/therivenmusic
Releases Worldwide: April 14th, 2017

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  • Brutalist_Receptacle

    FVCK YEAH SHE IS HOT

    • Choodi

      You read that whole review and this is the sum total of your thoughts?

      • GardensTale

        You assume he read the review

  • Max Ternebring

    Fuck yeah!!

  • Monsterth Goatom
    • Ivan E. Rection

      That, sir, is friggin awesome. Coming soon to replace Beard Metal and Vest Metal: Wool Fur & Feather Metal.

      • Ta2dlam

        I think Manowar hit those elements…with the possible exception of the feathers.

    • madhare

      That’s just a photo of the regular visitors from a German folk/pagan metal festival, right?

      • Monsterth Goatom

        You got it.

  • METAL OTTER

    Jorn wants his mascot back, or least at properly fed while it’s on loan

  • Wilhelm

    I love the song; creeping verses, strong chorus, nice 70’s guitar solo but I just wish it was more dynamic – how can a band addicted to this era/sound just totally dismiss the importance of dynamics?

    • GardensTale

      Give me this with Saturn’s production and I’ll be jizzing my pants all the way back to the 70’s!

  • lennymccall

    Yeah I’m into this real hard.

  • Thais Munk


    The five tracks on Blackbird are short, snappy, and more catchy than airborne ebola.”

    I love AMG because of sentences like this :D

    • Nukenado

      Actually, ebola is not an airborne virus, but transmitted through bodily fluids. Influenza would be a much more apt choice.

      And yes, I’m SO fun at parties.

  • Tofu muncher

    Listening to the embedded track, the drums sound not together blending with the music. Is that because of the measly DR5? Too bad if it is then. The music is great.

    *Edited: It sounds a bit better on their website/iTunes, though.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Is it just me or does her voice sometimes sound a bit like Lisa Stanfield?