Raptore – Blackfire Review

I really like Dying Victims Productions and their approach to releasing heavy metal music. Just about every album the label releases feels as if it’s trying to channel the authentic energy that fueled metal’s classic era, a time when people legitimately thought the music was actually dangerous. Dying Victims has already released one of my favorite platters of heavy metal anthems of 2022 in the form of Venator’s Echoes From the Gutter, and they cracked my top 5 of 2020 with the Satanic blackened speed metal of Blackevil’s Forever Baptised in Eternal Fire. These releases show that metal doesn’t have to be innovative or progressive to be awesome, and Dying Victims is more than happy to capitalize on such a fact. Like most of the label’s releases, Spain’s Raptore likes to pretend that metal existed in the 80s and in the 80s alone, their sound touching on just about every detail that made metal’s greatest decade so great. Let’s see if this search-engine-optimized project can live up to the expectations that I have for their label.

Originating in Argentina, Raptore released one full-length album back in 2016 and have been relatively quiet ever since, with a contribution to a 5-way split being their only other official release. But after moving to Spain in search of the right lineup, founding guitarist and vocalist Nico Cattoni finds his project poised to unleash sophomore record Blackfire upon an unsuspecting trüe metal scene. Single “Prisoner of the Night”1 demonstrates Raptore’s kitchen-sink approach to writing classic heavy metal tunes by combining bits of early Ozzy with the hair metal swagger of Mötley Crüe and a bit of American power metal a la Iced Earth or Cage. And just to show a bit of the band’s eccentric streak, it’s all introduced by a brief piano passage.

Raptore is here to do one thing, and one thing only: have as much fun as they can while they melt your face. The band’s sound is totally unhinged and unrestrained, paying no mind to genre conventions. The piano crops up again on frantic speed metal opener “Triumphal March to Hell,” heavy synths open the fantastic arena rocker “Demon’s Lust,” and penultimate track “Dirge” is a beautiful melancholic instrumental built around keys and classical guitar. But as frequent as these strange additions might be, Blackfire is still all about pure heavy metal. “Phoenix” opens with a thrash barrage before dropping into a subdued verse, only to then launch into some Judicator-esque heavy/power/thrash that’s bisected by a world class 80s metal solo section, and “Devil Ascends” wouldn’t be out of place on Kill ’em All with its NWoBHM-on-meth riffs, chaotic soloing, and maniacal vocals.

Crystal clear and well balanced, the production on Blackfire is absolutely stellar. The guitar leads sound like they’d actually electrocute you if you were to make contact with them, and the entire record feels like it was produced during a bygone era. At eight tracks and just under 32 minutes, Blackfire seems tailor-made for repeating on hot summer nights while drinking cold summer beers. Some may find Cattoni’s voice a bit grating, but I think it suits the band’s sound really well. With such a short runtime, you should listen to the whole thing, but if you must have standouts, check out “Triumphal March to Hell,” “Prisoner of the Night,” “Phoenix,” “Demon’s Lust,” and “Death.” And the instrumental interlude “Dirge” is exceptional in its own right.

With Blackfire, Raptore have added another classic banger to the Dying Victims roster. The songwriting is outlandish and catchy, and the whole thing comes off as a genuine tribute to some of metal’s greatest moments. This record is highly recommended for defenders of the trüe metal faith.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dying Victims Productions
Websites: raptore.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/raptoreofficial
Releases Worldwide: July 29th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. The embedded video is a full-album stream, so you’ll have to move to the second track to hear the single.
« »