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Winternacht (1996)

Ravenclaw was a side project from Gaamalzagoth, of Moonblood. Whereas he only did vocals in his primary band, here he handled everything himself. The band's second demo, titled Winternacht, was released in March 1996, around the same time as Blut & Krieg. The end result, however, is not as positive as one might have hoped for.

This is straightforward, raw black metal. Of this, there is no doubt. The musicianship is roughly the same as that of Occulta Mors in Moonblood, yet the songwriting is nowhere near as brilliant. While being solid, the riffs here are good on their own but average by comparison. Each song sticks to the same formula, more or less, being pure Bathory and Darkthrone worship with fast tremolo riffs and primitive drums. As for the latter, Gaamalzagoth utilized a drum machine and it sounds terrible. It really takes away from any feeling that the music could have had, especially with the particularly raw recording of the guitars. They just do not fit together well.

The sound is not really up to the same quality as one would expect from a proper demo of this period, though more along the lines of the Moonblood rehearsals. The quality is good enough for the guitar melodies to be heard, as well as the hate-filled vocals, but something about the guitars sound rather distant. This may also have something to do with the drum programming throwing the sound off.

Winternacht is not a terrible demo. It is certainly worth checking out for fans of Moonblood. However, with that said, do not expect the same songwriting genius. Gaamalzagoth is competent, but he is no Occulta Mors when it comes to composing music, it seems. For what it is, Ravenclaw is pretty decent and would have sounded quite good with real drums. Give it a listen, but keep your expectations low.
(28 Apr. 2014)

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