Ravenous – We Are Become Death
Release Date: November 27, 2015
Southampton’s groove/thrash outfit Ravenous give us a blast from the past with the reissue of their 2013 debut We Are Become Death. The re-issue was dropped over the Thanksgiving holiday this year. It missed my notice in 2013 and going by the reviews they got at the time, it seemed to have polarized metal heads into two competing ideological baskets. One group complained about the lack of creativity and the band’s compositions sounding too much like a tribute to old school bands like Metallica or Pantera. The other group, however, thoroughly enjoyed the manic riffs and the catchy song structure. When I listened to Ravenous for this review, I knew it right away which basket I will put them into.
We Are Become Death has a strong essence of the early Bay Area Thrash Metal sound, most notably of Metallica and Testament. The compositions feature razor-sharp thrashy riffage and ooze groovy hooks that will have you bobbing your head in acceptance through the entire album. Vocalist (and Lead Guitarist) Dave Game’s resemblances to James Hetfield’s vocal delivery style at multiple points in the album actually made me get up and check whether it featured Hetfield himself or not! Not only in the vocal style, but the songwriting too sometimes gives off a strong whiff of Metallica’s recognizable style of a slow melodic intro leading into a full-on onslaught of ripsaw riffing. This can be perfectly exemplified by tracks like “Suffocate” and “Easter Island (We Are Become Death)”. However, resemblances apart, Ravenous do possess enough firepower and finesse in their compositions to make you look beyond these obvious observations and get lost in the web of groove laden hooks and thumping drum work. The precise machine like riffs tear through your eardrums right from the opener “Abhor” till the last track “The Strawman”, barely giving you enough time to rest in between.
Ravenous’ compositions are long for a Thrash Metal band, with the average length of the track at six minutes. However, they are successful in preventing any of their compositions from sounding dreary or stretched. The length of the album stands at a daunting 55 minutes, longer than majority of the Thrash Metal albums that we witness these days, but never once did I feel tired or find a need to skip through the playlist. Their style is very old school; the intro riff grabs you by the scruff of the neck and the explosive riffage and drum pattern following it are like a volley of punches to your face. By the time the chorus hits you, you will have started singing along with the band with a grimace on your face and those horns raised up. The solos throughout the album are kick ass. My favorite off of this album has to be a tie between “Reverse (Sympathy)” and “Alone”. The solos are not your typical atonal solos but tilted towards the more finessed and melodic side of the spectrum.
“Easter Island (We Are Become Death)” is a strongly nostalgic track that took me back to the early 90s with its intro. However, as the track progressed, the variations it possessed totally surprised me. Initially it alternates between clean vocals with a melancholic guitar line and an explosive, catchy rhythm section. Then it completely dives into a gallop laden break-down leading to a melodic solo which twists the track to a quieter section as if about to conclude. However, it collapses briefly only to rise like a snake and transforms into a mean Thrash Metal monster. Regardless of whether you like this band or not, this tiny portion is sure to make you break into a headbanging frenzy. The band does not lose momentum and follow this up nicely with another classic Thrash Metal juggernaut in the form of “Ravenous”.
Game’s vocals and guitar skills are very impressive throughout. He is ably supported in the rhythms by Dave Foster and bassist Leon Maidment Millar. Drummer Rich Guiles perfectly plays his part striking on the kit with finesse knowing when to hold on and when to go all out still keeping everything in context.
To summarize, I agree with the group that thoroughly enjoyed the old school and nostalgic vibe the band gave off could easily look beyond the similarities in the riff structure or the songwriting with respect to their influences. Although Ravenous’ We Are Become Death is a re-issue, it makes me super excited about their follow-up release to this debut, which that I hope happens soon.