Quite often I insert a sentence into a review, something along the lines of ‘it’s hard to see this appealing to anyone either than long term fans of the band’, by which I mean the band in question are following a tried and true formula that just won’t attract anyone to them who doesn’t already like them; Return of the Spectral Rider, the ‘new’ album from US power metal veterans Ravage, presents the same formula, but almost in reverse. Essentially a re-recording of the band’s 2005’s Spectral Rider album, some of the material here first saw the light of day in recorded form as long ago as 1998 – so, in a way, this album should probably appeal more to Ravage newbies, and it is, after a fashion, hard to see why anyone who already has these tracks should want to fork over hard earned cash for them again, glossy new paint job aside.
That’s not to say this isn’t compelling stuff – Return of the Spectral Rider contains some of the most excellent resolutely traditional heavy metal you’ll hear in 2017. Tracks like the superb Wicked Way, which is an electrifying mix of Judas Priest and, well, more Judas Priest actually, are a pure, headbanging joy to behold; The epic The King Forgotten is similarly impressive. The new mix affords everyone the chance to shine, highlighting (for a change – bassists often get swamped) the great, pumping work of four stringer Tommy G as well as the superb chugging six string efforts of Eli Firicano and Nick Izzo.
I’m placing my tongue a little into my cheek when I say Ravage are pure Priest worship – they are far better than that, of course, but you get my drift. A more accurate descriptor places them in the long tradition of excellent mid to late eighties US power metal, with vocalist Al Ravage placing his sonorously gruff vocals in a much lower register than the metal God for the most part. Think Iced Earth, think Slough Feg – hell, think whatever you like, just invest in the album if you haven’t already been lucky enough to suffer an ear ravaging!
Ravage’s Return of the Spectral Rider is released on My 26th.