Raven Black Night
Barbarian Winter

Really testing our patience with the falsetto here, and it’s not even the good kind of falsetto ala King Diamond or pre-Fight Rob Halford. Rather, Australia’s Raven Black Night have rolled out what could be one of the more purposely annoying brands of high-wattage, ball-grabbing power metal in recent memory with their sophomore Barbarian Winter. It’s every pointless cliché rolled into 12 songs and a near hour-long running time. Worse, because the promo came in digital form, it cannot be used as a coaster or flying saucer, for those would be its only two good uses.

Before we get to the rather pitiful wail of singer Jim the White Knight (no joke; that’s his moniker of choice), it should be noted RBN’s brand of European-flavored power metal at least has some agility to it. Apart from natural, bravado-laced numbers such as “Fire in Your Eyes” and “If You Choose the Dark,” the band manages to construct a halfway decent epic number by way of the title track, something Manowar would probably sniff at…if only RBN had their chests greased in similar fashion.

Jim the White Knight kills the whole thing, and it’s not reach to say he’s one of the worst singers to come out of the power metal realm in a long time. Granted, reeling off singers of equal or lesser value is an arduous task, but Sir Jim has enough blunders to last a lifetime. Whether it’s his high-pitched babbling on “Morbid Gladiator” (where he’s definitely out of key, by the way), his whiny pleas in the chorus of “Mystery Woman,” or wacky pitch on “Nocturnal Birth,” Jim the White Knight is a bad Geoff Tate/Eric Adams composite to the max, and this doesn’t even take into account the solo spot he gets on “Warriors Call.” What is this, Highlander? Better yet, why did someone not hit the auto-tune button in the studio?

A bit unsure as to what prompted Metal Blade to take a flyer on these lads. It’s not like they’re in need of a strong power metal band to fill out their roster. Instead, Barbarian Winter should be reduced to what it really is: A total stinker, every bit as ghastly as described and perhaps more so, depending on your tolerance for really bad power metal.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by David E Gehlke
April 1st, 2013

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