Raven Black Night: Barbarian Winter

Trad metallers outstay their welcome

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This Aussie quartet released a couple of nifty demos circa 2000-2002, when eccentric, galloping trad metal was about as fashionable as a Jimmy Savile tracksuit. Now that the world can’t get enough of those same musty, patched-denim vibes, some of that material has been dusted down for a Metal Blade debut and wrapped in a sweetly crap handpainted sleeve of a glum warrior pulling his rowboat ashore.

Gruff vocals strain and wobble in time-honoured second-tier NWOBHM fashion, while solos are wild, frequent and irresistibly enthusiastic. Barbarian Winter is largely a fine collection of air-guitar-worthy working-man’s metal with doomy touches, especially on the majestic 10-minute title track.

It should have been the album’s closer, though – the last four songs are unnecessary, especially the mystifyingly lazy cover of Black Sabbath’s Changes, and an hour is a bit much for this sort of meat’n’potatoes fare. Even so, it’s a likeable, if rather well-worn, Antipodean rough diamond.

Chris Chantler

Chris has been writing about heavy metal since 2000, specialising in true/cult/epic/power/trad/NWOBHM and doom metal at now-defunct extreme music magazine Terrorizer. Since joining the Metal Hammer famileh in 2010 he developed a parallel career in kids' TV, winning a Writer's Guild of Great Britain Award for BBC1 series Little Howard's Big Question as well as writing episodes of Danger Mouse, Horrible Histories, Dennis & Gnasher Unleashed and The Furchester Hotel. His hobbies include drumming (slowly), exploring ancient woodland and watching ancient sitcoms.