Review: Ravensthorn – Burn in Hell

A best of compilation not available to the public, Ravensthorn’s ‘Burn in Hell’ takes the best tracks from the band’s three albums providing a thorough look into the madness that is Count William and his brooding band of horror junkies.

Beginning with four songs from the Hauntings and Possessions album ‘Chants of the Soulless’ kicks off the compilation with a crash of thunder and a creepy voice that sounds like a combination of Golom and the Crypt Keeper, serving to establish the horror concept of the band. A heavy thrash riff greatly reminiscent of the glory days of Slayer soon breaks the silence and is quickly joined by heavy drums and bass, and masterful fretwork by the lead guitar. In just under a minute, Ravensthorn proves itself a skillful band, especially when lead vocalist and lyrical mastermind, Count William, enters with his powerful vocals – though he often relies on a clean vocal delivery reminiscent of traditional heavy metal, his vocals, much like that of King Diamond, fit the haunting theme and thrash metal sound exceedingly well, especially when he hits the high notes will relative ease, proving himself to be an accomplished vocalist.

‘Buried in the Basement’ showcases the tightness of the band, for Count William’s melodic vocals blend well with the thrash riffing and heavy rhythm section, while the high vocals not only keep the song rocking, they lead into a wild guitar solo making for an incredible song.

The remainder of the Hauntings and Possessions section of the compilation is a pair of songs that are much the same as the previous two. Expect heavy riffing and a strong rhythm mixed with horror-inspired lyrics, high pitched screams, and fret warping solos. Of course, there is certainly nothing wrong with some good old fashioned trash metal, especially for those keen on horror and the occult. That being said, if you’re to listen to just one track from Hauntings and Possession, make sure it’s the eight and a half minute epic ‘Bloodthirst of Dracula,’ for the inclusion of several guitar solos and the band’s treatment of the legend of Dracula is too awesome to pass up.

Continuing on with a trio of tracks from Horrors of the Black Mass, the music is as thrash as ever but with little nuances of improvement such as subtle guitar harmonics, a more prominent lead guitar throughout, and an eerie keyboard reminiscent of a 1950’s creature feature. This is especially true on ‘Ouija Board,’ a haunting tale of meddling with the dead and those that were never of this world. This track builds upon the previous albums works with improved techniques already described, but the most interesting aspect is the lyrics, for Count William clearly puts a lot of work into his lyrics, making them more than a few jumbled words thrown over music. Instead, the lyrics are almost vision provoking. The same can be said for ‘Wolf Witchery,’ which tells the tale of occult practices aimed at resurrecting Satan, but leading to lycanthropy and the eventual demise of the characters by the classic silver bullet.

The second act of the compilation ends with ‘Horrors of Black Mass’ another eight and half minute epic that is once more a whirlwind of guitar solos, chugging riffs, and powerful rhythms. What sets this one apart from all the rest is the prominence of Count William’s vocal range throughout, the sheer skill behind each guitar solo, and the ending. As should any epic, the ending is the best part of the song, for it breaks from the thrash mold with a gloomy, bass driven, melodic section at the tail end. This break from the well-established formula plays well with the theatric spirit of the compilation, for it closes the second act in a melancholy spirit, almost like it’s setting the intermission prior to the final act of this horror metal opera.

The third and final act of this compilation is a series of four songs from the House of the Damned album. Musically, the songs are identical in terms of formula – thrashy guitars, heavy rhythm, melodic mids and screaming highs, and terrifying lyrics. This is not by any means a bad thing, for these are simply samples from three separate albums. In fact, they say a lot about the tightness of the band as a team of musicians and their dedication to sticking to what works. Of course, act three isn’t without its highlights. Once more there’s an epic in the form of ‘House of the Damned.’ This track is by far the highlight of the entire compilation with liberal use of synths to build character followed by the heaviest, fastest, and most melodic music on the disc. That being said, if you had to pick just one song to pick from this entire compilation, it should be ‘House of the Damned.’ This tune is Ravensthorn at its finest, hands down.

Editor’s Note – Because this is a compilation made up of songs from three separate albums, no score will be given. However, all three albums are highly recommended and can be purchased in any order.

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