Ravened – From the Depths Review

Formed in 2018, Ravened is a band of five young guys from Jönköping, Sweden. All under the age of 24, From the Depths is their first record and, rather curiously, the promo material spends quite of bit of time telling me not about Ravened, but about bands that various bandmembers’ relatives — two fathers and an uncle — were in. Since I don’t understand the relevance of that (my failing, I’m sure), I’m going to focus instead on the record and hope that Ravened can step out of the shadow both of their older male relatives and of the various influences they cite.

Ravened major in a brand of groove metal that really had its heyday in the early 2000s, with dueling twin guitars, swaggering bass, and a frontman, Isac Wendel, who alternates been a drawling roar and sharp barked delivery. If these guys were American, I would unhesitatingly brand it a form of NWOAHM. It definitely is not a new wave of Swedish heavy metal, bearing little resemblance to any of the metal one associates with Sweden. As each of From the Depths’ 12 tracks — well, except for the intro — works its way forward, the listener is treated to chugging riffs, cascading leads, many of which bring a vague sense of thrash without ever actually getting to that style, and consistently battering drums.

Ravened cite as influences including Lamb of God and Pantera, and there is a definite sense of swagger to From the Depths, which I associate with both those bands. Stylistically much closer to LoG, Ravened open the album with rumbling intro “The Path,” before opening up the first riff proper on “Foul Deeds,” which is all angular, staccato leads and muscular aggression, very much in the mold of Ashes of the Wake. That’s a theme that Ravened run with for almost the full 50 minutes of From the Depths, as Wendel (I like to imagine) struts back and forth, barking out his vocals very much in the model of Randy Blythe. It’s not until you hit penultimate track “Personal Universe” that Ravened do something a little different. They open that track with an almost symphonic edge to their sound, and after the initial burst of fury, slow things to a mid-paced stomp with a nice wailing lead. This more playful approach flows through into the title track closer which again breaks away a little from the pattern set across the rest of the album, taking things down in tempo again, but without losing the rampaging edge to it.

The problem with From the Depths is the relative lack of variation across its run time, coupled with the fact that it’s long for such a one-trick album. What Ravened do, they do well, and that is worship at the altar of Lamb of God. If someone told my “Onyx” was an unused Ashes of the Wake b-side, there’s actually a chance that I’d buy it. Wendel isn’t Randy Blythe, any more than Olle Liljegren and Willy Eriksson are Mark Morton and Willie Adler, but all are on their game on From the Depths. It’s just a shame that they don’t branch out more in what they’re doing — the last two tracks on From the Depths demonstrate that this is a talented band, capable of writing decent cuts but workmanlike outings like “The Cunning” bring down the whole.

From the Depths is a record that needed two things: first, about 15 minutes taken off its runtime and, secondly, Ravened to take a few more risks and play with a few more influences. Sadly, it didn’t get either of them. It’s clear the guys have poured a lot of effort into From the Depths, which is full of energy and there are some decent riffs on show, but overall, it has the feeling of Ravened playing it too safe and sticking too closely to a well-trodden formula. If Ravened can channel more of whatever they had when they penned “Personal Universe” and the title track, however, the sophomore record could be interesting.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: JONO Music
Websites: ravenedofficial.com | facebook.com/ravenedofficial
Release Date: August 7th, 2020

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