Atorc – ‘Under The Raven Banner’ album review

Band: Atorc
Album: Under The Raven Banner
Release Date: 4th April, 2019 
Label: Independent

 

 

Review by Sean 

I’ll be honest with you, guys, I was a bit disappointed with this album. I’d heard nothing but good things from friends about them, yet, when I gave their new album a spin, while it had its plus points, it wasn’t something I’ll be rushing to spin again soon.

The problem is that while the intro track ‘Hrafansmerki’ is pretty cool, and even leads you in a little pagan chant, and even title track ‘Under the Raven Banner’ that follows it are excellent, honestly, the vocals got to me a little bit as the album wore on. At times they sounded like they were strained, but trying to hide that by just being belted out, sort of like when you go see a band live, and the talent is there, but maybe they’re just pushing it a bit TOO far.

The rest of the music on show is great, though. The solo work is excellent, and quite honestly reminiscent of Maiden at their best at times. To call back to the title track, it almost actually could be a Maiden track itself, oddly.

Other highlights are ‘Hammer to Anvil’, another brilliant sounding track that pulls you on from the start, guitars and strings merging together to create something truly wonderful, but then the vocals. Other people might be well on board with them, but they just seem a touch off to me, and that brings down even this, my highlight of the album. And that sucks, because I really want to give this such a high mark. There were sections of this album that were truly beautiful, exceptionally well written musically, and almost had me forgetting.

However, I couldn’t forget, not even during the last two I’ll talk about, the first of which is ‘Voice of the Storm’. The music here is at its peak, but the vocals got their nadir here. They really distract from everything else, and what should have been a belter of a track, is instead something that I won’t remember fondly.

And lastly I want to mention ‘Isle of the Brave’. Again, the pagan folk meets metal aspect of the actual music is top notch, and I thoroughly enjoy it, but then, yup. Although oddly here, they don’t sound as grating as the last song. They’re still not perfect for the music, but they’re at their best here, I guess?

So all in all, a great album musically, with vocals that don’t quote match up. By all means give it a chance, you might well think differently to me, and enjoy all of it. If you do, get in touch with me, let me know. I could do with meeting some people crazier than us lot.

 

6 out of 10

 

 

Track Listing:
01. Hrafansmerki
02. Under The Raven Banner
03. The Mead Hall
04. Hammer To Anvil
05. Maidens Of The Shield
06. Sovngarde
07. Voice Of The Storm
08. Isle Of The Brave
09. Ragnarok
10. Shieldwall