Return Of The Spectral Rider is a re-imagining of Ravage‘s 2005 debut, The Spectral Rider. According to the band, the recording was plagued with problems, resulting in a finished product that wasn’t exactly what they wanted. The band didn’t have ownership of the original tracks, so they were unable to remix the album.
With that in mind, Ravage decided to re-record their debut with better professional production. They changed up the sequencing and added a few new tracks to the album as well. To celebrate this achievement, the band commissioned Tim Jacobus, a cover artist known for his Goosebumps work with the author, R.L. Stine.
Ravage is out of Boston, lead by two brothers Al Ravage (Vocals) & Eli Firicano (Guitar). Nick Izzo (Guitar) rounds out the line-up that was present for the original album. Tommy G plays bass on this new release. A slew of drummers guest on the album, as the band didn’t have a permanent replacement.
The guys have tried to generate buzz by using the Goosebumps‘ cover artist and I understand that he’s a big get. The cover art feels like an ’80s kids’ action figure collection. The “Spectral Rider” is coming out a fortress that’s a dead ringer for Castle Greyskull. The rider looks a combination of the Judas Priest Painkiller metal biker and one of Skeletor‘s henchmen.
Ravage definitely wear their influences on their sleeves! Al‘s vocals sound like Bruce Dickinson – so much so that I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t an Iron Maiden album. The musicianship of the band is strong, very much in the vein of Iron Maiden or German Power Metal.
On to the album tracks. I really didn’t know what to expect from the cover and I was pleasantly surprised. I’m not sure how different the tracks are on the re-release from the originals, but the track listing is completely different. Return has “Spectral Rider” as the lead off track instead of “Turn the Screw”, adding an intro track, “Dies Irae”. The choice makes more sense by making the title track the lead off. The bonus track, “Curse of Heaven”, is now in the middle of the album and there’s also a new track, “Father of the Atom”. There are a few more order changes, but I’m sure they’re all for the better.
Overall, I was impressed with the album. Iron Maiden and the NWOBHM bands used a ton of medieval themes, which are really hard to pull off to not sound corny. Whilst I don’t think Ravage totally gets away with it, the songs sound really good and they are even pretty catchy. Highlights on the album for me are “Spectral Rider”, “The Wicked Way” and “Curse of Heaven”, but the whole record is really good.
If you love Iron Maiden and are looking for a metal album to add to your Friday night Dungeons and Dragons playlist, then Return Of The Spectral Rider is a fine addition.