Following the release of their latest album Blood Omen, The Raven Age open the UK leg of their tour next week. The tour includes a Manchester gig at Manchester Academy, one of five UK shows they are playing.
Blood Omen, the band’s third album, landed in July, following on from previous releases 2017’s Darkness Will Rise and 2019’s Conspiracy. The album delves into the raven motif, centring on the overthrowing of old masters and the Raven King character central. The album also sees the recorded debut of new guitarist Tommy Gentry.
The Raven Age are now headed to Manchester Academy 3 following a run of European dates with Iron Maiden and a string of festival appearances including Rock am Ring, Sweden Rock and Metal Days.
We caught up with guitarist George Harris ahead of the run:
It’s been a few months now since you released your latest album Blood Omen. What are your thoughts now that it’s been out there a little while?
We’re still very much riding the wave of Blood Omen being a ‘new’ release as we’re touring it at the moment and people are hearing these songs for the first time. We’ve noticed a shift in audience members actually, lots more younger people attending the shows and they seem to be more familiar with the new tracks which is cool!
It’s the third album you have released. How did the approach to Blood Omen differ from previous releases?
Well for starters it was drastically different because of the pandemic. We were actually scheduled to record the album a lot earlier but for obvious reasons we pushed it back, which gave us more time to reflect on the songs. As a result I think we perfected a few areas here and there which we may not have had time to otherwise. Also it’s our first album with guitarist Tommy Gentry, who’s an unbelievable player and has brought a different flavour to our sound.
How do you feel The Raven Age sound has evolved during the course of the three releases?
It changed heavily from the EP and Darkness Will Rise to Conspiracy and Blood Omen. Mainly being that MJ joined the band so the sound evolved drastically as the vocals are very much at the forefront of our songs. When he joined in 2018 we didn’t have much time to work on stuff, we already had most of the album written so we jumped straight in the studio and it was all go go go. Also the first two albums was mainly myself and Dan Wright writing wise and Blood Omen is way more collaborative.
You’re heading out on a UK tour – how have you been preparing for this?
We’ve been super excited about this. There’s nothing better than playing to a room full of your own fans who know the songs. It was tough to select a setlist we thought would represent the band where we are right now, so we decided to play Blood Omen in its entirety plus some TRA fan favourites. It works out as a nice dynamic setlist in my opinion.
What can fans who haven’t caught you live previously expect from your shows?
We’re a band that seems to mix classic metal with modern metal and I think that also shows live. We’re a high energy/full on band but like to use dynamics to make the set a bit more of a theatrical experience.
There is an element of the theatrical in your music, how does this feed into your live shows?
There’s a hell of a lot of light and shade in our songs, which naturally calls for a bit of theatrics. We’re constantly thinking of how we can create an atmosphere/theatrical experience. Sometimes budget gets in the way of that unfortunately haha.
How do you approach putting the set list together for your shows, deciding what makes the cut and when?
It’s a tough one, the more songs you have out there the harder it is. As it happens this time round, I put forward a setlist I thought could work and everyone was pretty much on board I think we made one tweak. But we already knew we wanted to play the new album as much as possible.
What’s going through your mind whilst you are on stage?
Don’t fuck up, don’t fuck up! Haha kidding. Being in the moment, basically. You feed off the energy of the crowd and they feed off of yours. If things are a bit flat you can almost create your own fun by getting yourself into the show and amping up your own energy!
What’s the biggest challenge you generally face whilst out on tour?
Missing home I think. We’re all at the age where we have wives and kids, which makes leaving them extremely hard. They’re super understanding which is amazing but sometimes you just have those days you feel homesick.
Has your approach to touring and live shows changed over your time in The Raven Age?
I think you try and improve with every tour. Always looking for new ways to get the songs across to your fans but also how to grab people who have never heard the band before. We generally like to try and project our songs as far and wide as possible, we suit playing on bigger stages because of this really. Having said that, there is something to be said about small sweaty shows with fans right in your face.
What do you have planned after your UK tour has completed?
We’re most likely going to dive right into song writing and making a head start on album 4!
When do The Raven Age headline at Manchester Academy 3?
The Raven Age headline at Manchester Academy 3 on 7 November 2023. The Manchester gig is one of five UK dates they are headlining:
5 November – London, LaFayette
7 November – Manchester, Manchester Academy 3
8 November – Glasgow, Cathouse
13 November – Birmingham, Asylum
15 November – Birstol, Exchange