The Raven Age, Limelight 2, Belfast, 11/11/23- gig review

Matt James on Vocals

On what is a busy night for rock and metal venues in Belfast, punters had a rare choice of quality visiting bands & genres. Perhaps the pick of the bunch was The Raven Age headlining in the iconic Limelight 2.

First up though, French 5-piece Disconnected take to the small stage as the venue is still filling up. On what was my first exposure to this band, they ripped their way through a selection of tunes mostly taken from their 2022 album ‘We Are Disconnected’, vocalist Ivan Pavlakovic, prowled the stage obviously joyous in his delivery of every tune. The stage seemed almost too small for the band’s energy and the growing crowd didn’t take long to get behind the infectious delivery.

Pavlakovic’s vocals went from melodic to growl with ease, but perhaps the most surprising aspect of the song structure was the inclusion of so many vocal harmonies and just how good they sounded. Highlights included, “I Fall Again,” “Your Way to Kill” and “King of the World”. I got the feeling these guys play bigger venues in mainland Europe, and couldn’t help thinking it was a real privilege to be able to see them in a more intimate setting. As the set closed out, there were some promises to come back to Belfast again, and that could only be a good thing for the metal punters in Belfast. Quality stuff indeed.

Photo by Paul Verner

The Rave Age

After a short interlude, the intro music from The Raven Age’s new album The Blood Omen rang out over the PA system. The stage was washed with red lights and the band filtered onto the stage. The twin lead guitar intro from Parasite quickly brought the crowd back from the bar and the loos to the front of the stage. As the main riff kicked in, the energy in the venue skyrocketed. Matt James’ vocal delivery is nothing short of superb, what you hear on the album is nowhere near as good as his live delivery. In fact, I would say that is true of the whole band.

The twin lead guitars of Tommy Gentry and George Harris go from riff-heavy groove – to solo – to a more ambient tone with ease, highlighting technical excellence but never at the expense of the song. Jai Patel (drums) and Matt Cox (bass) provided a solid foundation for those thunderous riffs.

As the evening continued, the red stage light wash was almost constant and the set was mostly a mixture of new songs from The Blood Omen and their 2019 release Conspiracy. This selection of tunes resonated through the crowd, they sang, danced and played air guitar, all completely engaged and feeding off the radiation-level energy coming from the band.

Matt James on Vocals – Photo by Paul Verner

Towards the end of the main set, “Angel in Disgrace” was the one song selection that was a departure from Blood Omen and Conspiracy albums; and as they have been doing on a number of previous dates on this tour, the band brought an audience member onto stage to help with the drum intro.

Not having anywhere to hide side stage at the end of the main set, the band opted to stay on and keep the intensity going by playing a 3 song encore, finishing up with “Fleur De Lis”.
Coming away from the venue I couldn’t help but reflect on other bands that I have seen in the same venue, other bands that went on to much bigger things and, at least in my own head, that’s where I believe The Raven Age are heading.

From the opening notes to the final encore, they were technically excellent and delivered a heady mix of perfect harmonies and soaring guitar solos all rolled into heavy, well-crafted songs. It was a night of pure, unadulterated melodic metal energy, leaving the audience buzzing with excitement well after the house lights came on and the venue emptied.

Photo by Paul Verner

The Raven Age are:

Matt James, vocals
George Harris, guitar
Tommy Gentry, guitar
Matt Cox, bass
Jai Patel, drums

About Paul Verner

After a number of years learning the ropes with local newspaper photographers, shooting gigs, sports events and school photography, I took the plunge in March 2012 and branched out to begin LIVE:i photographic agency, with the aim of providing quality event and commercial photography for a range of clients.