By Aaron Tamachi
Sweden is known for many wonderful things – beautiful women and meatballs to name a few. And in the music world, it’s also known for melodic death metal bands. It only truly makes sense that Sweden’s Niclas Engelin, founder of Engel and primary songwriter and guitarist of In Flames, was responsible for releasing one of the most anticipated albums of 2015, Raven Kings (Jan 27, 2015 via Sony RED). For first time listeners, if you expect Engel to sound like In Flames, you’re in for a wonderful surprise: the new band sounds nothing like alike for the best reasons.
I had the privilege of speaking with Engelin prior to the New Year when he was in Toronto and prepping for a performance that evening. When asked about how he manages to remain organized while writing for two bands, he casually extracted himself of a blasting soundcheck to reply, “When I write, it seems like there’s a riff I hear and I think automatically that it sounds great for Engel, or sounds perfect for In Flames. I really don’t sit down and try to write specifically for Engel or In Flames, it just kind of happens”.
Given the subject of the difference between the two bands, he explained it as, “You can’t expand horizons if you’re constantly writing the same materials for both bands. It wouldn’t make much sense.”
Raven Kings is the fourth installment in the Engel legacy, Blood of Saints being their most popular release thus far. Engelin must’ve known what he was in for when sitting down with band mates Mikael Sehlin (vocals), Marcus Sunesson (guitar), Steve Drennan (bass) and Oscar Nilsson (drums) and discussing this album’s final outcome. “I wanted to create something that was somewhat of a new experience for Engel. I believe if you are not moving forward with your sound, you are moving backwards.”
There is no debate as to whether or not the album itself sounds natural. It’s a very organic, explosive, and would make an excellent addition to any soldier’s playlist before going to war. The album features 11-tracks, is 30 minutes in length, and if you were to listen to Raven Kings the way it was intended, you would find yourself flat on your ass right from its opening track Salvation. In a very anathematic way, Salvation pulls the listener in and keeps them there until the very end with “Hollow Soul”. In my opinion, not one track can be considered a ‘filler’ song on this album. It’s very much old school meets new age metal, which is enough to make anyone want to wreck something. Head over to your closest music retailer, iTunes or Spotify to get hold of your very own copy.