In the time between the release of Blood of Saints and their latest record, Raven Kings, Engel replaced vocalist Magnus “Mangan” Klavborn with Mikael Sehlin, Oscar Nilsson took over drumming duties from Jimmy Olausson and Raven Kings is released through Gain Music Entertainment, and not Season of Mist.
What does all that change mean for Raven Kings? With two new band members it is expected that there will be a change in the sound, but Raven Kings sounds a little…empty. It’s a decent album, it’s just not a very good Engel album. “Salvation” opens Raven Kings with false hope as it all sort of fizzles out from such a strong metal opener.
The elements that made Engel unique, appear to be missing from Raven Kings. The electronic/industrial sounds that made Engel, well Engel, are now only heard in brief moments scattered across the record. “Your Shadow Haunts You” and “End of Days” are reminiscent of their previous sound, but it seems they are following a direct, nothing but metal approach now and for that, new vocalist Sehlin is the perfect man for the job. Olausson adds a nice groove working well with bassist Steve Drennan and the well established guitar work of Niclas Engelin and Marcus Sunesson.
The album tries to maintain a strong metal feel throughout, but then takes an almost out of left field breather with “I Am The Answer”, an atmospheric acoustic track that highlights Sehlin’s clean vocal ability, before jumping back into the pit with “When The Earth Burns.” To their credit, Engel are still trying new things with their sound as album closer “Hollow Soul” has an almost power metal sound to it, though it does sort of feel odd among the rest of the tracks.
Unfortunately for Raven Kings the songs all sort of blend together and sound a little too generic. It is however, still a good enough metal album – if nothing more than good enough is what you’re after – I just don’t think that it’s a good Engel album. But I guess this is the path they have chosen to take, so like it or not, this is Engel now.