Aside from Type O Negative, there just hasn’t been a gothic metal band that I’ve gotten into except Lacuna Coil. Last year’s Delirium was a solid comeback for a band that has sort of carried the genre for the last several years. Ravenscry, has been around since 2011 and The Invisible is their third effort. It’s the first time I’ve been exposed to the Italian band but what they’ve managed to create on this album makes me look forward to perhaps other bands following in the same vein in the genre.
Like Lacuna Coil, Ravenscry is female fronted, with vocalist Giulia Stefani playing an integral part of the music. I feel the vocals in gothic metal need to coincide more with the sound to really convey the right type of atmosphere. She shares much in common with Cristina Scabbia and undoubtedly, Ravenscry will be compared to their Italian brethren. In my opinion, justifiably so. The Invisible is more than an hour long and I can’t really talk about it in a linear sense without sounding all over the place.
There are several instrumental tracks and interludes, the first of which is the intro track, The Entanglement. It’s a great opener, showcasing the band’s musicianship and setting the mood and tone instrumentally. It’s effective in that way and afterwards, Whispered follows, which allows Stefani to showcase her vocal skills over some nice strings. Another example of these instrumentals working are the bookends to The Deepest Lake. I’m not sure they needed to be separate tracks on their own but they provide quite a bit of atmosphere to the song and enhance it quite a bit. Coral is likely the strongest interlude though and carries the most weight. The band likely could have carried it to a full song but it’s broken up to fit in place with the narrative of the album. Stefani sounds great here as well but the stars on this track are the guitars of Paul Raimondi and Mauro Paganelli. It also provides a great lead into The Mission. However, those are the only of the seven interludes or instrumentals scattered across the nineteen tracks that have a true impact. There was probably a better way to weave them in but when the band makes them work, they truly do add to the album.
The first true song on The Invisible though, is Hypermensia, and it is wondrous. It starts off with some expert drumming from Simon Carminati, giving the instrumental a heavy feel. Stefani’s delicately glides over the track despite this and strong guitar riffs gradually build momentum behind the drumming. There are some nice synths sprinkled throughout that never overwhelm the track too. The band essentially combines what they establish on the first two tracks but they add some keys, a whispered vocal section from Stefani and a nice solo towards the end of things that truly make this song stand out. It left me feeling excited for what else they has liked up.
Guitars kick off Coral, and though it serves more as an interlude, it’s still rhythmic and catchy as all hell. Stefani is amazing here too, her vocals are both soft and soaring, and serve to perfectly juxtapose the great guitarwork both Raimondi and Paganelli lay down here. If it had a chance to go past three minutes and enter another stage, it really would have become something special. Instead, it serves as more of a lead in for the next track, The Mission. This song starts with some impactful drumming and tittering high hats. Stefani’s voice slides between the drumming and the nice riff the guitars give off. The chorus is gentle and the overall feel of the track is much more subdued than the previous ones. There’s another strong solo towards the end here as well. It’s, all in all, another solid track.
Monsters Inside starts quite differently, with melodic strings and Stefani the main attraction of the track before Carminati adds some heavy drumming. The song ends just as I felt it was picking up though and barely scratches past three minutes. The Invisible Revolution follows it almost immediately, with more driving drums and soaring vocals from Stefani. The way she utilizes whispered vocals is always a great treat. Even though the track does go four minutes, I felt the band could have gotten even more out of it if they wanted to.
The Deepest Lake is bookended by two instrumental cuts, as previously mentioned, quite effectively. Carminati’s drums, as usual, drive the track and see Stefani hit quite a few different registers with her vocals here, getting very high in the chorus especially. The guitars turn melodic midway and almost get folkish in sound before screeching off into another strong solo. This song goes five minutes and I think this is the length that best serves Ravenscry. The band makes excellent use of their time here, showcasing several different sounds. It’s the best song since Hypermensia.
Things get a bit haphazard in the tracklisting as More Than Anything and Nothing But A Shade get a bit swallowed by the instrumentals and interludes surrounding them. They aren’t bad tracks at all but following The Deepest Lake and proceeding a strong final stretch of the album will likely see these songs lost in the shuffle a bit.
A song that won’t get lost in the shuffle is Oscillation. It is has a bit of a singer/songwriter quality to it, with Stefani obviously at the forefront. It has a lot of commercial appeal and though doesn’t show off nearly all that the band is capable of, we may look back at this track as a song that gained the band some much needed notoriety. Of course I wish it was longer and more fleshed out but there’s no denying the charm behind it.
In a similar vein, In Collision starts off with Stefani spotlighted with beautiful, melodic strings providing the backdrop. The way the drums and Fagio’s bass enter here is one of the high points of The Invisible. I love the way the song comes together and the instrumental comes alive behind Carimanti’s drumming. The song ends quietly as it leads in to The Magic Circle.
The Magic Circle has an incredibly crunchy riff and the effects used on Stefani’s voice mixed into the track is a great touch. The way the guitars and drums play off each other in the middle of the song is another great moment on The Invisible. As a whole, it’s another one of the best songs on the album.
Flux Density is an entrancing track that easily could have been the closer of the album. There are gorgeous violins throughout and Stefani shows off more of her amazing vocal range. The song is carried by the gentle keys of a piano before the drums and guitars show up towards the latter half of the song. It’s truly a mesmerizing experience.
The Invisible ends off with Overload, a six minute affair that sees the band put all facets of their strong musicianship on display. It’s a worthy conclusion to a lengthy journey, but one that is both enjoyable and memorable. The band put everything that had into this album and it certainly shows.
By adding progressive and folk elements to more of their gothic sound, I think Ravenscry has a good chance to surpass their Italian brethren in Lacuna Coil in terms of musicianship and quality of discography. They are already a worthy successor, with all the makings of an excellent band and Giulia Stefani just as talented Cristina Scabbia. Once they flesh out more of their songs and construct a tracklisting that flows a bit more fluidly, Ravenscry will strike gold, and I can’t wait to hear it when they do.
Top Tracks: Hypermensia, The Deepest Lake, In Collision, The Magic Circle, Overload
Initial Value: SILVER