Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t call releasing two EP’s in 18 months prolific, but as always, the truth is relative. Eyes Of The Raven, you see, took six years to put their first one out. In that context, then “Crown Of Serpents” follows hot on the heels of “Season’s End”, surely?

All joking aside, “….Serpents” is yet more proof that EOTR could – with a little more luck and less real world stuff going on – have been serious contenders. It’s six tracks are an immediate cut above all of those on the metal underbelly.

That is true from the off. “Black Sun Rising” shows that they learnt plenty when opening for Orange Goblin, because when Dave Horan growls the chorus, it might be Ben Ward doing the same.

On “Five Year Winter” – a song that has been in their live set for a while – things move slightly heavier. If it’s not quite the death’n’roll of Entombed, then it’s not far off, and indeed, in common with much of the record, there is an undercurrent of threat here, a whiff of violence. Before the superb solo, there is a cry of “I will take back what is mine” and you’d best stay out of the way just in case.

“Embrace The Void” boasts a bass groove that is so mighty they could use it as a bulldozer, but the absolute highlight here is the title track. Starting off like a ballad – albeit a ballad that begins “I am God” –  the chorus doesn’t so much crush as salt the earth to ensure the job is done.

“I Endure” has an opening riff that a) is made for headbanging to and b) renders anything on the awful new Machine Head record as pointless as you thought it was, and the closing “What Binds Us” – another live favourite – is faster, more outright metal, maybe, but also perhaps it is the sound of a band that is absolutely content with its lot.

Eyes of The Raven might have a right to cast envious glances at bands nowhere near as good that are gaining more plaudits, but more than likely they’ll be down the front, in the moshpit with beers in hand and smiles on faces until the next time they put a superb record out.

Rating 8.5/10