Count Raven - Mammons War
I Hate Records
Doom Metal
11 songs (68'40")
Release year: 2009
I Hate Records
Reviewed by Alex
Surprise of the month

Thanks go out to one of my reviewer colleagues (we won’t name any names here) for letting me review Count Raven and introducing me to this band in the process. I don’t know whether he picked up on my recent doom incline or thought I might enjoy Count Raven because Witchcraft drummer Fredrik Jansson handles bass for Count Raven (truth be known I praised Witchcraft in the past). Either way the chance to write about Mammons War befell to me. Not that one person can know everything, but I was completely oblivious to Count Raven existence. In reality, the band has a long history, having been in existence since 1989, cranking out four full-length albums between then and 1996. Unfortunately, Count Raven dissolved somewhere around 1998, and Mammons War marks the band’s resurrection.

The fact that Count Raven plays solid traditional prototypical doom is just as true as the notion of the wheels of doom never seizing to grind. Black Sabbath left a lasting impression on many a band and Count Raven did not escape their earthly seal. Until the title track made its appearance almost midway through Mammons War, the formula in just about every song was to introduce a simple effective rocking riff early and build the whole song around it. Whether this riff is more middle-Eastern sounding (Nashira) or is more cathedral resonating with all of the bells and weeps (Scream), the elastic stretchy guitars carry the day. The chorus, and sometimes the lead, brings more melody into the picture as “welcome to the other side” line does in The Entity.

Yet, an unusual ebbing synthesizer-filled, lyrical forewarning of sorts, title track with its preachy vocals and spacey end marks a departure from the traditional. Sure enough there will be return to stoner rock in Magic Is …, and the heavy dragging Seven Days will advocate that there is “no more fears, no more life” and we need to “rest your head, close your eyes”. Still, the trio of Mammons War, A Lifetime and To Kill a Child add romantic wistfulness to unyielding heaviness. More keyboard layers, building harmonies, special percussion and overall fuller sound make this trio of songs, as well as unusual acoustic ballad To Love, Wherever You Are and dissolving closer Increasing Deserts, a lot more psychedelic. With this approach Count Raven makes you think again whether it is really true that you know all of their tricks.

To speak of Count Raven and not to mention by name their only remaining founding member Dan “Fodde” Fondelius is impossible. Not only is he a major songwriter as well as a guitar and keyboard player on the album. His voice is not simply a passing reference to Ozzy Osbourne. It is more like an accurate and faithful impersonation, down to weeping notes and little vibratos and characteristic modulation. I swear sometimes it is completely unrecognizable and you will have an absolute impression that Ozzy is guest singing on the album.

With their lyrics at times having a profound social angle (title track), Count Raven does not merely join the latest wave of the Sabbath inspired bands like Sheavy, Sahg and the aforementioned Witchcraft. They are quite close in spirit to those like St Vitus and Pentagram who came into existence when Black Sabbath wasn’t a shell of its former self. After a while I have stopped taking my notes while listening to Mammons War trying to describe their individual songs. The wave of doom gently overtook me washing out the mind into a desolate blissful place located somewhere not far from Increasing Deserts.

Killing Songs :
Scream, A Lifetime, To Kill a Child
Alex quoted 86 / 100
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There are 5 replies to this review. Last one on Sat Oct 17, 2009 6:31 pm
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