It was late 1999 when Jim Petkoff, [guitar/vox], and Rino Amoriono, [guitar], met over a cold beer in Adelaide, South Australia: the city of churches and where AC/DC found Bon Scott. This would mark the beginning of Raven Black Night’s campaign to bring their traditional metal sound to a worldwide audience.
After deciding to form a doom/heavy metal band, they enlisted Matt Spencer [bass], and Jeremy [drums.] They began building a formidable live reputation, with a style of metal that appealed to many varieties of metal heads in their home town. With their stage adourned with swords, shields, and candles, they spent 2003-2006 criss-crossing Australia, performing at various metal festivals and underground clubs. Drummer Joe Toscano was brought into the band and their first album, Choose The Dark, was recorded and released in 2005.
‘Choose The Dark’ garnered praise throughout Australia and Europe, and a track from was chosen for Germany’s Heavy magazine’s compilation featuring unsigned artists. This all culminated into an invitation in 2007 to perform at the 10th annual Headbangers Open Air in Germany, where the band performed with Candlemass, Rage, and many others.
Several years of touring and festival appearances were to follow: Hard and Heavy summer nights, the Hamburg ballroom, and more dates throughout Australia. In 2010-2011 Jim, Rino with Chris on bass enlisted Matt Enright to record new material for their long awaited follow up cd.
Jim and Rino are prepared to take the Raven Black Night’s sound of true metal/doom rock to a global audience. After forging a new partnership with Metal Blade Records Raven Black Night has now released Barbarian Winter.
We had a listen:
After a gelatinous and gloopy start ‘Fire in Your Eyes’ soon cranes into view. With a rusted iron skeletal fame-work of booming bass tones, intertwined with a husky voice which soon becomes bold and provocative – and screaming – it gets closer to the blazing guitars. Towards the end of the song, a solo jumps out of the speakers to singe your inner ear with its fierce heat. This track reminds us of Deep Purple. Beautiful, moody, and even lascivious.
‘Morbid Gladiator’ will gladden any Sabbath fan – right from the start. A sludge of sugary sounds creates a gummy swamp for the manful melody to stride itself over. A barrage of engaged wah-wah sounds, and a plenitude of biting percussive flicks – fly through the swollen gasses. This is a boiling froth of dark brewings.
‘Mystery Woman’ thunders along in a rockier style. Classic vocals ascend against the pale moonlight and the dashing percussion. And while the ‘Mystery Woman’ may be ‘Surrounded by Angels…’ one hopes that they are not of the ‘fallen’ variety. ‘Fallen Angel’ – a hymn to the “shining one, morning star, Lucifer” is undeniably brilliant and plushly embellished. This song is full of light and fiery golden glows.
‘Black Queen’ begins with a drilling drone and some doodles of light guitar. Rhythms hump along, keeping things moving in great strides. And the voice sounds a bit familiar. It is all very unremarkable… well that is until the booming bass starts to wind down, and then the ‘Holy father…’ chorus starts grinding its fiercely penetrating melody deep into your skull. A startling guitar solo only adds to the excitement.
‘If You Choose the Dark’ has sparkling layers of laser-sharp guitar sounds. These notes penetrate your armour, and sink their teeth into your succulent neck, long enough to suck the thoroughbred blood from your warm flesh.Vocals are taller and stronger than you can possibly imagine – flying even higher than those predatory guitars.
Title track ‘Barbarian Winter’ begins with a foreboding thunderclap, and the prospect of miserable dark clouds coming – soot and black specks of dust. The heavy bass riff steps along like a crippled beast, dragging his claws in the heavy sludge. A soup of sounds bubbles under the heavy carcass. Breathless swarms of bold guitar fight together, and then they begin a long flight of fiery brilliance into the Bible-black sky When the vocals arrive, they sound familiar and reassuring. The constant yawning and braying of the grizzled guitar adds breadth to the monstrous size of this epic song. This is a black treasure.
The riff and the treble trills on ‘Lips of Desire’ exaggerate the solemn sadness of the vocals (from Jim Petkoff) and the see-saw rhythms will grab you by the belt buckles and pull you into the swirling vortex of sound.
The album ends with a song about another angel – this one is an ‘Angel with a Broken Wing.’
“Rock ‘n’ roll…” The White Night yelps. This song grows to a crescendo of controlled noise – like a fluttering plague of moths. It flickers and rises in a wasted, morbid mass, to fill a polluted sky. Wah-wah sounds are harnessed in just enough – as the song explodes into an unexpected inflorescence of colour and magnificence.
© Neil Mach February 2013