Madog - Raven
Black Sunset
Heavy Metal
12 songs (58' 1")
Release year: 2018
Reviewed by Andy

Austria's Madog started just before a sea change in the musical world, just as virtually all their Teutonic heavy metal predecessors either lost most of their leather-clad machismo and fire or dissolved into progressive silliness. Hunkering down through the 90s, they released a couple of LPs in the early 2000s, only to be faced with delays that held Raven up for years. Now finally released, it reveals an older band that can still write quick-paced metal tunes, but it has flaws that will likely put off the casual listener.

The album starts out with stock but nonetheless still decent riffs on top of a nice, fast speed-metal beats. The sonic template, and Hans Zedrosser's vocals, inherit less from the polished power metal of Helloween and more from the rougher-hewn sound of Rage, and it's hard to go wrong with that formula; both the title track and Monstergate do well merely by abandoning pretensions and being meat-and-potatoes German speed metal, complete with screaming guitars harmonizing in the middle of each song. While Zedrosser doesn't have a particularly wide vocal range (he often wanders off key, most notably in Hell Defender, a melody that a better vocalist could crush), he does have a grittiness to his voice that blends well with the guitars.

The guitars are definitely where most of the band's care is lavished. The twin guitar attack is tight and everyone's got years of heavy metal under their belts. But even the good tunes often fail to be as inspiring as they could be, and some of the ones in the middle of the album could have been thrown away without any shed tears on the part of the listener. Bright spots return when the band decides to crank up the speed; the mid-tempo tunes give Zedrosser's questionable vocals more chances to display defects, and conversely, on a song like Loud, the mindless lyrics and the weak singing is overshadowed by all that delicious, crunchy guitar distortion Madog can crank out.

Raven reminds me of a Sacred Steel record: Potentially likable, but the corny lyrics, off-key vocals, and mid-tempo songwriting keep getting shoved in the listener's face until exhaustion sets in and one gives up on the whole thing. When Madog plays to their strengths as musicians, they do well, but their shortcomings invariably come back to haunt their music.

Killing Songs :
Monstergate, Loud
Andy quoted 65 / 100
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