Album Review: Ravage – Spider On The World

Ravage - Spider On The World

Album Review: Ravage - Spider On The World
Reviewed by Sam Jones

I decided to give this album and band a go, seeing as I’ve never encountered them before, plus the artwork is cool. This is Ravage and, while I’ve not heard of them before, they’ve actually been around for a long time; the band hail out of Massachusetts, United States and have been going uninterrupted since 1995. Formed by (who I’m assuming are brothers) Guitarist Eli Joe, and Vocalist Alex Firicano, Ravage are a traditional heavy metal act whose discography is specifically consisting of studio album. The band’s first release came out in 2005 with Spectral Rider where it was followed suit with 2009’s The End Of Tomorrow. It wouldn’t be for another eight years until the band released 2017’s Return Of The Spectral Rider and now, another seven years afterwards, we have their fourth full length record: Spider On The World. Releasing April 19th through Thrash With Power Records, I was curious to see what Ravage were all about, given my absolute newcomer status to their music.

Ravage’s sound is one attuned with classic heavy metal and so you’ll already have an idea of what to expect. With that said though, recording an album in this modern era enables bands to use up-to-date technology to ensure their sound doesn’t sound needlessly tinny or muddied. Spider On The World doesn’t offer anything that sees an audience having to search for the gems within; the band’s production is great as while they exude this cool style it doesn’t feel overblown nor doesn’t feel slapped in your face. In addition, each element the band use here feels outlined heavily so when it’s brought to the forefront, Ravage don’t need to try too hard to get your attention focused on it. The bass drums are these huge and pounding forces that help fill out the rest of the record’s vast space, and the vocal work may not be anything wholly new but it’s mixed to give its performance some prominence. Whilst the band do play traditional metal, the record feels very grounded and their songwriting doesn’t feel like it’s constantly aiming for the moon.

What I enjoyed about Ravage’s riffs though was how methodical they actually are. When you listen to these guys play, you get a sense that they’re not looking to throw an utter abundance of elements or ideas at you at once. They’re spreading things across a full album’s worth of tracks and therefore allow tracks to breathe; apply one idea to a song and work with it, then move onto the next. It means the band have more time and effort devoted to ensuring songwriting is solid across the album as a whole, and why their riffs aren’t merely a constant strumming session but consisting, often, of a steadier, constructive form of playing. Their guitar work doesn’t explode right off the record but you come to realise the advantages to this over time; you come to see how well written and engineered their riffs are, especially since their songwriting is made up numerous, intricate sections that will all need to connect somehow. It’s nice to encounter a heavy metal band of the traditional sense that understands writing must, foremost, come first.

Album Review: Ravage - Spider On The World

Half the reason this record seems to hold its ground so well, seems to come down to its pacing. The more you experience this album, the more you’ll notice how controlled the band’s flow and speed are. As we’ve mentioned, the band aren’t vying totally for speed here as their songwriting is more suited for steadier, methodical playing that helps highlight Ravage’s songwriting. Tracks like “Sign Of The Spider” and “Without A Trace” do this impeccably as they’re able to engage us fully without feeling the need to push us into breakneck intensity at every given moment. I think that’s why bands like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest garnered their adoration in the first place: they played to entertain and engage, not merely to get our blood pumping. That should always be a secondary objective. Moreover I came to realise just how naturally the concept of storytelling came to Ravage; they actually manage to invoke a similarity to Iron Maiden without outright copying their NWOBHM-styled sound. Ravage pull you along for whatever ride they’ve prepared for you, and the pace you’re moving alongside them with is excellently suited for a journey from start to finish, so when a track ends it doesn’t feel like it’s simply “finished” but you’ve come to a satisfying conclusion that felt right and earned.

I will say I absolutely adored the vocals on this album. They’re not new. They’re not the greatest you’ll hear. But, coupled with the songwriting and vibe Ravage possess, at least throughout this record, I couldn’t pin down another vocal delivery better suited than what longtime frontman Alec Firicano pulls off here. He manages to capture that incredibly specific magic that made metal the alluring, attractive niche to young people back in the day. He evidently possesses vocal chops owing to how his voice can rise, but I also appreciate his reluctance not to lean so heavily into those high notes as a crutch. He’s absolutely at home with Ravage’s traditional metal roots and his vocal candance is just sublime. He’s able to remind me of classic vocalists like Ronnie James Dio or Bruce Dickinson however I know for a certainty he’s not emulating them; he is his own vocalist and his performance is well applied to telling stories and begging us along for the ride, than merely hurling vocals at us. The title track is a perfect demonstration of such.

In conclusion, I absolutely fell in love with this album. It’s bands like Ravage that make me smile and hopeful for the future of traditional sounding heavy metal; the band understand the easy pitfalls they could find themselves in if they’re not careful, yet Spider On The World is a fantastically written album that has passion and honest effort sprawled all over it. Ravage manage to capture that glorious sensibility of classic metal without smacking a crutch of nostalgia in our faces over and again; this is first and foremost Ravage’s album and while you’ll pick up on similarities with classic bands, I see it a great compliment to the band that they can carry the torch of that era without sacrificing their own identity. Their songwriting is excellent and they understand just what is needed at any given moment; it’s less a explosion to the face and more an unwinding landscape that’s soon revealing the full breadth of the road ahead. Every minute I spent with this record was a joy and I’m amazed to learn this is Ravage’s first album in seven years. I can only hope this record paves the way for more album releases with shorter intervals between them because this was just exceptional. Just great fun and smiles all round.

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