Xandria – Ravenheart (2004) – Review

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The first time I came across Xandria was via their second album Ravenheart. Not sure what really got my interest going, to be honest. It probably was the unique style that this band displayed at that time.

A German outfit, rocking in a somewhat delirious and somewhat poppy brand of Gothic and Melodic Metal. And – on top – these boys and girls provided a much-needed counterweight to other upcoming bands like Within Temptation back then.

Their style – or more their interesting mix of styles – is somewhat addictive and has this tendency to grow on you. For sure, they were not groundbreakers in this genre. But they were able to carve out a niche for themselves. And this started with Ravenheart.

Frankly, in 2004 not many foresaw such a brilliant future for this band that culminated in cool albums like Sacrificium or Theater of Dimensions. Even if they had this annoying habit to change their female front for almost every new album that came out.

Now in all fairness, methinks that a lot of the material got written for the fairy voice of their lead singer Lisa Schaphaus (also called Lisa Middelhauve in the meantime). And her ethereal voice really fits much better than the eternal Tarja copies that were fashionable at the beginning of the century. I really like her contribution.

The album kicks off with three very good tracks Ravenheart, The Lionness, and Back to the River. The latter sounding like a teaser for their 2005 album called India. Different styles again, from storytelling first to a more flowing, kind of bombastic-poppy style to Indian influenced elements in the 3rd one. Very confusing, but never boring.

The album then lets off some after that. Just to take on much more steam with Some Like it Cold. This is testament to the foggy mystique the band likes to display at times.

But then comes the excellent My Scarlet Name, one of my favorites. This one, together with Snow White, will for sure get on your list of the most remarkable tracks on this record as well. All of that is very dark Gothic Metal with enough melody in them to render them pleasing. A bunch of foreboding songs. Sometimes a little evil, and just the way I like them.

Ravenheart proves to be a well-rounded record that surprises at every corner of the tracklist. Very well evidenced in the last track Keep My Secret Well. There is no doubt that this record served Xandria as the opening door to their future very steep career that continues to this day.

I really like the album and continue to listen to it from time to time. And so should you.

Record Rating: 7/10 | Label: Drakkar Records | Web: Official Site
Release date: 24 May 2004

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