Review Summary: The Raven and The Reaping is fast, heavy, and menacing, but it ultimately wears itself out and becomes tired and boring...
Breakdowns. Love them or hate them, breakdowns have become an integral part of modern metal, and over the past 5 years or so, it seems as if 90% of all metal albums have contained an exorbitant amount of them. There are only so many things you can do with galloping triplets before they become stale and overused, and by now every single pattern you could think of has been done to death by pretty much any band that has released upwards of three albums. The Famine, sadly, doesn't appear to be the band that will finally put a stop to all this breakdown nonsense, but they are taking a few steps in the right direction. As far as the sound of the band goes, on the surface they appear to be just like any other newly signed Solid State act. The music is heavy, unrelenting, and fast, much like any other band to put out an album on the label in the past couple of years, but if you pay attention there is an underlying grittiness to the sound that is more or less absent from the recent string of overly polished metalcore albums.
The main difference in the sound of the album is in the production. There are really no slick production tricks to speak of on here, and the album sounds very gritty, which ends up working to the album's benefit. The underproduction also adds to the rather thick and oppressive atmosphere of the album, as the guitars are often muddied into a thick wall of sound. As far as actual riffs go, they are a bit difficult to make out, but when you can, they really aren't all that impressive. The guitars mainly stick the open chord chugging and single string riffs that abound in the genre, and where there is chugging, there are breakdowns. The difference here is that instead of putting breakdowns in the usual spaces within the song, they can pop up pretty much anywhere. Basically, the breakdowns are somewhat disguised, and while the approach may not be anything new or refreshing, its definitely a step in the right direction.
The real musical draw here comes with the drums and the vocals. The vocals aren't exactly of the normal mainstream metalcore variety. Chris McCaddon has an almost overly
harsh scream/growl, and it sounds very interesting when paired with the pseudo-metalcore instrumentation. Interesting as it may be, McCaddon doesn't exactly possess a stellar range, so after a few songs, its easy for them to drone on and become a little tedious. The drums on the other hand, provide a top notch performance for almost the entirety of the album. The beats and fills are technical, fast, and, for lack of a better word, pummeling. However, as with the vocals, the constant onslaught (and lack of variation) does become a little bit tedious after a few tracks, which is rather unfortunate.
If there is one thing this album is, its consistent. Every song is fast, aggressive, raw, and heavy, but the lack of variation really just drives the album into the ground after a few songs. On the flip side though, the album is a little on the short side, so it does end before things get too tedious. Basically, if you're in the mood for some metalcore with a slightly different aesthetic, this album would do the trick, for a little while at least.
A few recommended tracks
-Scar The Earth
-The South Will Rise
-Stitched In Plastic