Many bands on the live metal scene come wrapped in a big dose of hype, for some its warranted and for others they never seem to live up to the expectations set upon them. The Raven Age are one band whose hype proceeds them, for a band so young and fresh they have toured with some of the biggest names including opening for Iron Maiden and a full UK tour with Anthrax earlier this year.
So it is with anticipation the metal fraternity head to Birmingham tonight in search of the answer to the eternal question. Will they live up to expectations?
The dimly lit up starts room at the Institute in Birmingham is a wonderful setting, an attic venue with an arched roof that does wonders for the acoustics, small and intimate and providing the best conditions for any band to shine. Opening act on the tour are In Search of Sun, a band with metalcore roots who have progressed beyond that already so early in their career. Taking to the stage fashionably late, almost 30 minutes so, the 5 piece Londoners hit the crowd with both barrels straight from the off.
Chunky riffs and pent up angst accompany the melodic, pitch perfect vocals from front man Adam Leader,
who despite some obvious technical issues on stage still delivers perfectly. Elements of grunge influence their music but there is a large dose of funk thrown in for good measure and at times I hear hints of jazz. An eclectic mix that works well. The band feed off the energy of the fans throwing themselves around the tiny stage. Despite bassist Faz Couri taking a blow to the head from Rory Kay's guitar they play to a finish. Wowing the crowd an no doubt winning themselves a few new fans.
Headliners The Raven Age are a different beast, they have a bigger following for one, many of which claimed their spot front of stage right from the off. Opening their set with the title track from their album, Darkness Will Rise, the choreographed moved of lining up on the edge of the stage leaning into their crowd as they perform goes down well. Those who have bagged their spot at the front get up close and personal with this performance. The song itself is less orchesteral live than on record works well in this different configuration. Michael Burrough's powerful vocals and commanding presence deliver and is lapped up by the adoring masses.
The band have an hour and a half to curfew and they manage to fill it superbly with the twelve track set perfectly promoting their recent album release. Whilst the band have metalcore roots their sound is more traditional, heavy metal with just hints of their influences. Classic roaring guitars and a heavy as hell bassline that throbs angrily throughout the set, whilst Jai's outstanding talent on the drum stool keep everything together and rounds the tone off nicely.
Songs like Promised Land, Age of the Raven and My Revenge stand out in the set, anthemic tunes that will no doubt survive the test of time and stay on live rotation for years to come. Closing out with Angel in Disgrace, the band rounds out the set in triumphant style with all the grace of a band twice their age. If anyone was still questioning the hype around this band having witnessed this show I would be surprised, The Raven Age not only live up to the billing they've been given, they surpass it as one of the best young live bands around today.