In a few years time, the name “Ray Heberer” will be spoken with reverence in the kvltest metal circles. This 16 year old metal Taiwanese musician – signed to Clean Slate Records – has been releasing material from various projects over the last year – each one more complex and sophisicated than the last. Ray’s been emailing me for the past year with project after project of musical brilliance, and he’s been on my MUST WRITE REVIEW list for seven million years. But the Steff Metal review list moves at an alarmingly slow rate (hence why I’m thinking of hiring some reviewers), so the poor dude has been incredibly patient and good-natured about my inability to write 3 reviews a day like SOME metal bloggers I could mention (cough NO CLEAN SINGING cough). I totally owe him a review, and he’s going to get a rave.
The album I’m focusing on today is Ray’s most recent release from his melodeath project Bloodred Fullmoon. Called Winter Solstice, this 5 song EP is inspired by a lunar eclipse. From the first pounding notes of “Too Late for heaven”, you know you’re looking at a fantastic melodeath release. “Too Late for Heaven” reminds me of Arch Enemy on the Doomsday Machine album – he’s got that pounding, marching-t0-war vibe of songs like “Enter the Machine” and “Machtkampf”. “My Ghost” has a galloping guitar melody that adds a NWOBHM vibe to a dramatic and haunting tune. The keyboard melodies remind me of the more inspired moments of a Battlelore album, but the solos, riffs, and drumming are Heberer’s own. My favorite track has to be the finale – “In Search of Better Days”. The riffs and melodies create an evocative, almost folkish atmosphere. The vocals – which are this album’s weakest point – take a backseat to their guitars, and we’re treated to an aural assault of Ray Heberer’s seriously epic guitar chops.
The complexities of the melodies would be lost in a mess of contracting ideas if it were not of Ray’s skill with composition. Each song flows logically from one movement to the next, so the songs themselves have a cohesion – they don’t switch abruptly between moods and riffs like many melodeath releases. For a solo project of an incredible guitarist, the songs seem quite restrained – and all the better for it.
Ray uses other, international, musicians on Winter Solstice and his other releases, but the guitars, bass and composition are all his own.
Ray’s other projects
Haemic remind me of the more recent Dimmu Borgir releases, or maybe some of the better Satyricon songs – symphonic, keyboard driven black metal. The three tracks on the 2011 Haemic demo show Ray’s passion for diversity and exploring different musical ideas: the doom-laden track “Graveyard” has a distinctly gothic flavour – the love child of Nick Cave and Gorgoroth, perhaps? The standout track is definitely “Hellgate” – a mostly instrumental guitar-and-keyboard showstopper. There’s no hackneyed satanism here – the inspiration seems older, primordial, even – the age old battle between void and matter, between chaos and balance.
A track from Ray’s symphonic doom project, Reclusive Forest Council, appears on “Stick it to the Man”, a Clean Slate Records compilation. The compilation costs $6.99 AUD to download, but you can preview all the songs, including Ray’s, for free through the link. “Romanticised Reality” is an instrumental track that serves as a showpiece of Ray’s musical tastes – in short, it’s got a little bit of everything wrapped up in evocative soundscapes and sophisticated structures. There are Kalmah-style guitar melodies, jazzy interludes, orgies of progressive shredding and a cleverly-concieved infusion of electronica.
When a unique array of musical projects spew forth from the mind of any man or women, words like “genius” and “savant” tend to get bandied around. But when the creator of such a varied and intelligent output is only 16 years old, attending a demanding school and has only been playing the guitar and bass for a couple of years, I think we can conclude someone got more than their fair share of the talent pool. Do you have any idea how CRAP I sounded after playing guitar for over a year? The only song I could play was “Demon of the Fall”, and it was out of time. There’s no way many people who’ve been playing for 10 years could conceive metal this sophisticated – music that lingers in the mind.
Ray Heberer is a metal musician to watch.
The best way to keep up with Ray Heberer and his various projects would be to follow Ray on Facebook.