Portugal’s Ravensire enter the new year strong with their second full-length album entitled The Cycle Never Ends, the band’s first release for Cruz Del Sur. The Lisbon quartet have certainly honed their skills since their debut full-length, 2013’s We March Forward, with much more complex song writing and more confident and intricate guitar playing from both axemen. Vocalist/bassist Rick Thor, formerly of Ironsword, leads the band with the same confidant vigor as any Mongol Khan of ancient antiquity or even a certain late British rock legend who always lived life to the fullest. Leading the charge through the first few tracks such as “Crosshaven” and “Solitary Vagrant” like an advancing horde then slowing tempo to evoke the occult sensibility on “Procession of the Dead”. The twin guitar leads on that track stand as a shining example of the band’s growth since their last album and lead perfectly into the flurry of riffs that is “Trapped in Dreams”. Just like Iron Maiden perfectly set up “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” with quick flashes of infectious metal Ravensire have only just begun on their epic quest.

Ravensire set themselves apart from Thor’s previous band Ironsword not only with the twin guitar attack but also by not limiting their lyrical content to golden age pulp homage. This is best evidenced on the epic “White Pillars Trilogy” which rounds out the album. It is a three song piece concerning the history of Sintra, Portugal. “Part I: Eternal Sun” describes an archaeological excavation of the ruins of a watchtower built in the 16th century. “Part II: Blood and Gold” describes the discovery of the remains of a Moorish settlement which had been subdued by the invading army of King Sigurd of Norway early in the 12th century. Finally, the archaeologists uncover Roman altars and artifacts belonging to an ancient cult who worshiped the Sun, Moon and Ocean on “Part III: Temple at the End of the World”.

Due out on vinyl in early February, The Cycle Never Ends comes highly recommended for fans of Brocas Helm, Battleroar, and Visigoth.

-Wes Craven