Sunday, July 6, 2014

Ravenclaw


Nightwolf & Ravenclaw - Conspiracy Against Christianity
Obscure Arts Productions, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

Nightwolf:
1. Intro
2. Twilight of the Night (Dusk)
3. Kingdom of Hate
4. Night without Return
5. The Shadows of the Ancient Fog are Rising
6. Dawn
7. Outro
8. Conspiracy Against Christianity (Split-song)
Ravenclaw:
9. Destroyer
10. On the Throne of Fire
11. The Prophecy Comes True
12. Necromancy
13. White Pigeons Fly Nevermore
14. I Hail the Night
16. An Everlasting Fire Burns Our Souls

Side Nightwolf: here
Side Ravenclaw:

This is the last material from the band Ravenclaw. In the following year Gaamalzagoth would start a new project called Azaxul and this would, essentially, continue his solo works of Black Metal. This is another cassette only release with a multi-panel booklet, but also single sided. Like "Winternacht" this is limited to 200 hand-numbered copies and I own #138.

After "Winternacht" I was fairly excited to hear what he would produce on this split. The material comes only a few months after "Winternacht", so perhaps there wasn't much time spent on writing it and it really does feel that way when listening. The Ravenclaw side opens with "Destroyer", which sounds more like an early Bathory style with the way the beat and harsh quality come across. Gaamalzagoth doesn't saw away at the guitar much anymore and instead seems to be going for a more tempered pace and rhythm. This really creates a whole different experience compared to the times of "Winternacht". Some rhythms seem an attempt to be outright catchy like in "I Hail the Night". An interesting Moonblood fact here. This is the original appearance for the lyrics for the Moonblood song of the same name. Many will recognize the song as being part of the split with Deathspell Omega. Occulta-Mors' guitar line is far superior, which you would come to expect, since Gaamalzagoth is fairly rooted in simplicity. He does try to maintain a dark atmosphere at times, but it mostly sounds like the early days of Thrash transitioning into Black Metal, which is probably what he was going for. So think of things like Hellhammer, Bathory and their ilk when approaching this material. Things are changed up a bit when he writes "White Pigeons Fly Nevermore", because here he uses clean guitar elements that break up the song giving it a more melancholic feel.

This certainly isn't the raging and fast Black Metal of "Winternacht", but if you're a huge fan of the very old transitional Black Metal material, then you might find some merit in this release. For me, I like hearing some of the earl incarnation of the more well known Moonblood material. If you are interested in the history of the bands, this is a great piece to have in the collection and the Nightwolf material is actually really great.

Ravenclaw - Winternacht
Obscure Arts Productions, 1996
Genre: Black Metal

1. Intro
2. Ersehnter Holocaust
3. In den einsamen, menschenlee Stra├čen
4. Du gegen Alle
5. Endloser Hass
6. Wenn die Stunde des Todes naht
7. Winternacht
8. Nachts
9. Outro







Shortly after "Demo I" Gaamalzagoth returns with another Ravenclaw installment, this time their second demo. This demo is released on Obscure Arts Productions, which some may know eventually turned into the legendary Iron Bonehead. Makes sense that the recent Moonblood represses are coming from that label in light of the Ravenclaw releases. "Winternacht" comes as a cassette only release on colored print, the booklet is single sided though. This tape is also limited to 200 hand-numbered copies and I own #124.

"Winternacht" is a fair improvement over the first demo. The guitars feel a little less sloppy and the songs have a much better atmosphere. It has that old chilling atmosphere of a lot of the early Black Metal demo days. Naturally that's the era Gaamalzagoth is from, so his music will probably always maintain that kind of quality. The drumming isn't as well done, and I imagine Occulta-Mors did not participate on this recording since his name isn't listed. The drumming is also overly simplistic compared to his usual work. The drum tone and everything just doesn't sound like he's the man behind the kit to me. The booklet says all music by Gaamalzagoth so he may have done the drums himself, but the first demo said that and then listed Occulta-Mors as the drummer. The guitar lines are still overly simplistic and the cold hateful atmosphere is really carried by the fact that he's merely sawing away at the guitars. Regardless, I still feel this came out even better than the first demo, I just wish Occulta-Mors had participated as well.

If you like that raw and cold sounding Black Metal then "Winternacht" delivers that exactly. If you're already a fan of Moonblood, you may be interested in this demo, the only problem I could see is that this is way more simplistic Black Metal compared to Moonblood. Another interesting part of "Winternacht" is that it is entirely in German, which is something this musician rarely does. I know in Moonblood their "Nosferatu" tape was all in German, but I think this is one of the only other all German demos.


Ravenclaw - Demo I
Self-Released, 1995
Genre: Black Metal

1. On a Cold Morning in Autumn
2. Black Clouds Over the Shadowforest
3. Flames Beyond the Stars
4. In the Grip of Flames
5. In Darkness I Dwell











If you're a die-hard Moonblood fan like me you probably already know about Ravenclaw. This is, essentially, a solo project of Gaamalzagoth's with Occulta-Mors performing on session drums. This actually comes out after Moonblood has established quite a few releases already. In some ways it would be very unfair to compare Ravenclaw to Moonblood, since Gaamalzagoth is the guitarist and songwriter for Ravenclaw and in Moonblood Occulta-Mors is the writer. "Demo I" comes with a xeroxed cover and dubbed tape, in almost identical fashion to Moonblood. No limitation for this demo is listed though, but I'm sure it is no longer being made except by bootleggers.

Ravenclaw plays a much more traditional style of Black Metal. It's fast paced and vicious sounding like many of the other German bands performing around this time. Much of the material is dependent on Gaamalzagoth sawing away at the guitar with Occulta-Mors blasting away behind the kit. Gaamalzagoth strikes me as a relatively sloppy guitarist, but he is good enough to convey some raw hatred through the music in Ravenclaw. I imagine his guitar work will get better overtime, but "Demo I" really is a collection of songs dedicated to utter hatred.

As with anything Moonblood related, I try to get my hands on everything these musicians have done. While Ravenclaw can't match up to the legend of Moonblood, I think the project is off to a decent start. The vocals, naturally, sound quite excellent, but I think some of the songwriting can be improved. However, this is a pretty decent first effort and sounds better than a good deal of other demos I've heard over the years.


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