Abaddon magazine

Music magazine

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Review: Raven Wundis – In Shadows Summons Divinity

Label: Self released

Date: October 5th, 2023

You know that moment when your friend is so happy he found some good metal but not settled in America or Europe? It feels really exotic and the importance of which is that you spread your horizons outside of typical places where metal is popular and always the same. When there are many of those bands you are very proud because your favorite music is so well spread across the globe. It means it’s so good that it even got to some distant islands. I am always so delighted by that, so this time too.

In complicated periods I listen to only complicated music so some progressive metal from the Philippines came as a medicine to the wound. Complicated riffs, lyrics and energy of this genre sometimes reminds me of how metal has a complex musical history and it really advanced from its roots in the middle 1970s. We had everything. Thrash as a prototype and picture of typical metal. Glam as a pretty shocking picture of childish 80s. Black, death, etc. when things got really far and aggressive. Now that extreme branch of metal is still the most popular but there is more. Progressive metal, or as I like to call it “smart metal”, is actually the best and musically the most complex subgenre to play. As a nonmusician that is my opinion. I hope others will agree with me. Discovering Dream Theater was my entrance into the world of prog metal. It was a long time ago but to like it was one heavy trip for a small angry metalhead girl. So, let’s see am I smart enough for the prog.

Raven Wundis is a one-man project from the Philippines. That’s enough information to be pleasantly surprised only by that exotic fact. It’s pretty hard to go down this path alone as a metal musician. There are always good and bad sides, but a brave move it remains. Raven Wundis and Mr. Darwin Tolentino Venus behind it, released the second full length album this year, called “In Shadows Summons Divinity”. The album is consisted of singles and EPs Mr. Venus made at the start of a project mostly, but now they are all gathered in one album. As I understood, it’s because of the concept of the songs. The lyrics are what connects them most, out of the work made by Raven Wundis that is actually here.

It starts with “Vision of Collapsing Stars”, a beautiful fusion of jazz and metal, full of mystique and sadness as the song title itself says. Stars are definitely the most mystic part of our nature. They are born alone, live alone and die alone and it’s all actually followed by some dignity and glory. Really good start of an album. “Fragments of Rebirth” is a single from 2020 and the most beautiful song of Raven Wundis. An aggressive song full of bitterness and energy. A really good example of musical knowledge this man has. A break made by “The Grave Continuum” can instantly be understood as a ballad, but it’s a funny fact about progressive bands. It’s always the most complex song with some important philosophy in the lyrics. In one moment, you make some impression about it and they flip it to the total opposite dynamic and atmosphere. It’s the best fact about this genre. You are more surprised the more you listen to it.

As you can see, I am not talking about the melodies of this album precisely. Not because I don’t know what to say but it’s because it would be absurd. Why? Well… It’s as you want to make a review about some Chopin’s or Beethoven’s piece of art and comment every single tone. Here that is also some kind of a problem. But in progressive metal, the essence of music talks through poetic and metaphysical lyrics, as it is in “The Grave Continuum” or in “Salvation Reprised”. It’s about life, meaning of it and sometimes, or better said always, makes you think more as a listener. One more good thing about Raven Wundis, it’s not monotonous. Sometimes it can be hard for ears to listen to all those scales, riffs, changes but here that’s not the case. So many details and really good, mixed riffs are the mark of the album.

But there is always something bad. It’s the clean vocals of Mr. Venus. Sometimes it seems like he is trying to sing but it just doesn’t sound well. But when the growling starts, I forget about the previous singing. Also, I can see that this is mostly the syncretism of previous work but I am not so clear with something. Why is the previous full-length album of 35 minutes inside this album? Wasn’t there other material, so you didn’t have to put the entire previous release on a new album? Maybe I misunderstood something but, in my opinion, it is not necessary at all. To be clear, I liked “Glimpse of Being” on some level, but it brings a light touch of monotonous atmosphere.

The best part of progressive metal releases, next to the lyrics, are actually cover arts. I remember once I took Opeth’s album covers to watch I felt like I am in a museum. This time too. Psychedelic cover art of “In Shadows Summons Divinity” really impressed me. Time, five essential elements, pyramid, God’s hand hides the true philosophy actually. It’s modern but in the same time really ancient. It will look beautiful on vinyl and CDs.

I am looking forward to listen more music made by Raven Wundis. Events we witness every day that happen all around the world are great material for a book, ballet and progressive metal albums. So, dig in!