MYSTIC PROPHECY, Ravenlord (2011, Massacre)

The skull:
If this dude is the Ravenlord, he might want to start looking for a successor. Bleeding from the head is never good, especially when all you’ve got left of your corporeal existence is a skull. You’re pretty much reaching the end at that point. The wings that sprout from behind his head are apparently attached to him, and perhaps these are acting as his deliverance to some unspecified afterlife-type location. Who the fuck knows. The ravens shown in mirror image above the wings: are these Polar Ravens? Because they look snowy. With all the occult-ish nonsense in the background, I’m starting to think this cover was supposed to look evil, but really I just want to be the good samaritan, get a big Band-Aid for the dude’s head and continue on my way.

The music:
This band are known largely as the place where modern-day guitar hero Gus G. got his start. They’ve been prolifically releasing albums since 2001, and this one is their seventh. I haven’t paid much attention to these guys over the years, and while I’m still not gonna be running out to complete my M.P. collection, Mystic Prophecy definitely have some worth. In general they resemble a heavier, darker Nocturnal Rites, with all the modernisms N.R. started introducing with the introduction of vocalist Jonny Lindqvist and the Afterlife album (in no way, shape or form am I saying they’re that good. Nobody will ever beat Afterlife at its own game. Every metal fan should own it). Should Nocturnal Rites ever part with Jonny, they can get this Roberto Dimitri Liapakis guy, because the two are very similar. Gruff yet with excellent melodic ability, delivered with a ton of passion and power. It’s not hard to fall under the spell of his melodies on something like “Eyes of the Devil.” He works some similarly mighty magic throughout, always coming across as a Jonny Lindqvist/Mats Leven sort of singer with a penchant for catchy, AOR-esque melodies. He’s the clear highlight here. While you’re guaranteed some galvanizing double-bass driven rhythms and colorful lead work with some nasty tones, their chug-chug-chug style of riffery is far too bland and gets old really quick. You can look at it as a platform for Liapakis to perform upon, but riffs in power metal bands shouldn’t be relegated to background scenery. It all gets a bit repetitive by fourth song “Damned Tonight,” but the vocalist keeps you listening intently all the way through final song “Back With the Storm,” although they almost lost me with penultimate track “Miracle Man” (yes, the Ozzy Osbourne song). Even though Mystic Prophecy is German, they’re an honorary Swedish band as far as I’m concerned, considering all the references to great Swedish melodic heavy metal bands in their music. On a final note: the band’s album-titling pattern is getting stale. Lots of cutely “dark” invented compound words: Fireangel, Ravenlord, Killhammer. My money’s on Thundertoaster for the next one.
— Friar Wagner