NOTE: The video is for the Hellhound Records release. It's the same songs as the Cyclone Empire release.
Special Features: Includes the bonus track "Regression".
- Shadow Box
- The Loneliest One
- Fallen Angels
- Mountains Spirit
- The Lie of Life
- P.S.I. Power
- The Divided World
- The Viking Sea
- Regression (Bonus Track)
Release Date: 2005
Label: Cyclone Empire
Count Raven are essentially the shadow of the 90s doom metal scene, always measuring up to the same level as the best in the business, but being taken for granted and often passed up for others with more notoriety. This can be observed simply by noticing the lack of live albums, compilations, and DVDs dedicated to their discography. Nonetheless, as a creative force in the studio, this three piece (since their second album) matches wits with the best of them and puts forth a quality set of traditionally oriented, slow and dark chunks of psychedelic rock infused heavy metal that is able to take multiple forms, depending on what is being depicted within the words being sung.
“Messiah Of Confusion” is the last of 4 successive albums, all of them containing highly original songs, yet all following a very strict formula meant to invoke a certain feeling. Of the four it is probably the most ambiguous in which aspect of the greater genre it falls into it favors, and becomes the most Sabbath-like of them all. Guitarist and vocalist Dan Fondelius gets all the closer to morphing into a hybrid of Ozzy Osbourne and Tony Iommi on here, particularly on the more rocking and mid-tempo song “Shadow Box” and the slower and freely flowing “Shine”. The riffs take on that distinctive “Master Of Reality” meets “Vol. 4” sound that many American doom acts took on, while his guitar solos have become a bit less epic and a little bit more trill happy and octave based. The lead break on “Shine” in particular sounds extremely Iommi inspired, particularly the slightly longer and drawn out era of his playing heard on “Sabotage”.
Among some other songs on here there is definitely an emerging stoner doom element that takes elements of Sabbath’s middle works and puts them within sort of a Candlemass style of production. The best example is “The Divided World”, which has that really loose sounding, almost improvisatory nature to the drum beat. The character of the riffs definitely goes for that low end, darker version of early 70s rock, although it’s been taken to an extreme and has a strong late 80s character to the production. They do well to avoid the annoying practice of some stoner oriented bands like “Sleep” and later “The Sword” of riding the crash cymbal as if it’s the high-hat and turning the whole arrangement into a blur of trebly noise that obscures and distracts the ears away from what’s going on down beneath. All in all, the approach isn’t quite as interesting as what they did on “High On Infinity”, but it works extremely well.
The absolute highlight of the album, and the greatest song I’ve heard by the band so far is the colossal epic “The Viking Sea”. It’s an extreme change of subject for the band from all of the political and theological commentary that dominates most of their songs, and the resulting music that comes to accompany this different idea definitely leaves the traditional format that this band has followed significantly. There was always a bit of Manilla Road in Count Raven, but here the band all but completely morphs into a slower and slightly more keyboard oriented version of what the former sounds like today. The principle riff has something of a Sabbath tinge to it, almost like a slower and darker version of “Supertzar”, but the rest of it definitely exhibits that driving riff style and dense atmospheric backdrop that was present to a great extend on “Voyager”, a full 12 years before the album was put together.
When all is said and done, this is actually the weakest of Count Raven’s 4 releases, if only because it has the least consistent sense of unity among the songs all found on it. There’s nothing on here song wise that necessarily comes up lacking, but other than the incredibly long winded and loaded with intricate interludes closer “The Viking Sea“, most of what is one here is pretty standard compared to what was done on past albums. It still technically falls into the category of essential if you are looking to proliferate a respectable collection of older guard doom bands, but “High On Infinity” and “Storm Warning” would definitely be the first ones to check out. - hells_unicorn