I have never really been into symphonic metal. I get the inclusion of symphonic elements in metal. Metal has many parallels with classical music. It is not that I do not like classical music, although it is something I rarely listen to. There is plenty of music I listen to that has strings and other classical elements in them, but they are not the dominant focus of the album. I am not sure; it is something about the operatic vocals that bothers me too. Maybe it is just a “keep your chocolate out of my peanut butter” thing. Anyway, when I was asked to review “The Raven” from Unreal, I figured I would give it a shot.
Unreal it's a symphonic metal band run by vocalist/keyboardist Roberto Casti, who is also the songwriter and producer behind the bands releases. The lyrics and the music of “The Raven” are based on the classic horror stories of the same name. “The Raven” was originally released as an EP on March 23, 2013. It was recently rereleased by PowerProg as a special edition. It comes with two extra and recently finished songs plus the single edit of "Those Raven's Eyes."
My concerns were not eased when the album opens with a 2.5-minute symphonic intro (‘The Visitor’). This leads into the quasi title track, ‘Those Raven’s Eyes.’ Casti’s Dracula-like clean vocal soars over dialed down heavy riffs and double kick drums. Casti also channels Dani Filth for his vocal during the bridge. The next short acoustic interlude, ‘The Presence,’ features a guest vocal by Julieta Ciminelli. ‘The Horla’ is a little more up tempo, but still very operatic. The instrumentation almost seems subdued for as heavy as it wants to be. The highlight of the record for me should of been the next track, a cover of King Diamond’s ‘Behind These Walls.’ The heavy is unleashed a bit, and Casti obviously has the voice for the song. However, he does not have the level of creepy necessary for a full impact. ‘The Assignation’ sounds almost identical to ‘Those Raven’s Eyes.’ It even brings back the screeching vocal. For me the real standout track was ‘The Pit and The Pendulum.’ This is the first heavy track, with a more dominant guitar and Casti’s clean vocal sharing time with more growls a screams.
For someone that enjoys symphonic metal, “The Raven” is probably a cool record. For me it falls short. I kept waiting for the metal to kick in, but by the time it did, it was too late. Roberto Casti and the rest of the band are very talented. I hope they find an audience that appreciates them more than me.