Ravenland - Memories (EP) (2011)


After all the trials and tribulations that 14 years in the business can throw at them, Ravenland are still making it happen. The "Memories" EP, the follow up to 2009's "...And A Crow Brings Me Back," sees the band with only one original member, band mastermind Dewindson Wolfheart. But the turnover hasn't stunted the band's growth, instead driving their sound to new, more well rounded places. With three songs and a cover in tow, this Brazilian five piece hopes you like what they've become.

The opening track, "Regrets 2001," begins with airy electronics fading from right to left. The guitars are energetic, pushed along by a battery of percussion. Chugging guitars are layered with clean notes, played in rapid succession. But as the music quiets, mainman Dewindson Wolfheart displays a style of vocal delivery that could only be described as "unique." He seems to struggle keeping his lyrics and pitch in harmony, a problem that does not plague backing vocalist Tatiana Berke. Her touch helps to carry the track at times, giving glimpses of light. The bass line is ferocious, and certainly the highlight, musically.

The title track, "Memories," has all of the muddled tone and tempo of a nu-metal era hit in the opening stages. There is no denying the talent in the musicianship, but the stripped down and simplistic nature of the song only hides it. The use of synthesizers is the perfect compliment to Berke, who takes a stronger lead on this track. Wolfheart again seems to struggle when singing solo, but is aided by his female counterpart on and off. The guitar solo that occupies the breakdown is exactly what the doctor ordered. As the fretwork ends, a blistering bass line grabs some much deserved attention. The later vocal passages could be taken as evidence that this band could benefit from a larger female role, and reduced male vocal.

An interesting decision follows, with a cover of "Fire In The Sky," a track from Ozzy Osbourne's "No Rest For The Wicked." And while this holds up to the original in the instrumental sense, Wolfheart's vocals are unfortunately flat. Even when compared to modern day Ozzy, he fails to capture the pitch and tone necessary to make this an effective effort. Tackling one of the Godfathers of modern metal is a tough task, but one that the band itself does with relative ease. The guitars are blissful, running up and down the scales with finger wizardry that would make Randy Rhodes proud. The bass is strong, but more importantly fluid. Even the mix on the song should be commended, producing a very even flow from all sides.

Finally, the acoustic guitars bring the EP to a close with a delicate rendition of "Memories," one that allows Berke to fully shine through. Her voice is certainly made for this type of track, chasing the melody with the utmost beauty and grace. The role reversal finds Wolfheart providing backing vocals, a role he fills much stronger than the lead. The depth of sound the band achieves in an acoustic setting is extraordinary, not losing the bass sound that is often an afterthought in a song of this nature. Each piece comes together in a pleasing way, including the appearance of some piano and string work. Perhaps this could be a sign of what is to come.

All in all, an EP like this one is rarely more than a chance to try a new direction in a safe setting. There isn't a whole lot of lateral movement here, instead seeing Ravenland expand on an existing formula. The losses and additions over the last few years have helped to shape the band in their current form, and will certainly continue to do so in future endeavors. And while "Memories" isn't a revelation, it is proof that Dewindson Wolfheart and his grandiose ideas aren't finished yet.

7/10

Official Site - http://www.ravenland.net/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/ravenland