I had pleasure of catching RAVENEYE back in April when they opened for THE DARKNESS, (one of my favorite bands) and being so knocked out by them then, I was extremely excited when The Maestro asked me if I wanted to review their latest record Nova (out now, Frontiers Music). Live, this three piece brought down the roof, so I had a feeling this album was going to be good. Boy was that an understatement.
They come out of the gate swinging with first track “Wanna Feel You”. The opening riff has such a massive, gnarly, rollicking groove, that you can’t help but let a cruel grin spread across your lips. Immediately you catch yourself bobbing to it. The chorus is one of those that will get stuck in your head for days, though you won’t mind. Around the four-minute mark, they really knocked me on my ass when they took the chorus, changed the phrasing slightly, modulated it and threw in a seriously tasty harmony. So much so, that I caught myself swearing appreciatively. Then Oli Brown, the impressive vocalist and axeman, takes you on a simply savage guitar solo outro. Even though this song ends up being almost six minutes long, I found myself wishing it would last longer. And yes, I did hit replay a number of times.
“Come With Me” has a really upbeat, feel good vibe that just gets you pumped up. I imagine I’ll be using this song to start off future road trips and weekends. Be careful though, it’s another super catchy song that will get stuck in your head. I am continually impressed by the musicianship of this trio. Starting with the seriously groovy and intricate bass work of Aaron Spiers. That, in connection with the complex and thunderous drumming of Kev Hickman, and the satisfying vocal talent and guitar wizardry Brown, combine to create a serious powerhouse of a band. One of the things that really caught my attention live was the obvious chemistry between the guys. They truly seemed to be having a good time and you can hear that on this album as well.
The next couple tracks have that familiar RAVENEYE sound. Bluesy, ballsy, heavy hittin’ rock n’ roll. Both “Inside” and “Hero” really remind me how much I appreciate this band’s melodic sensibilities. “Hero” in particular really highlights Oli’s powerful vocal range.“Supernova” is an excellent strategic choice. It slows things down a notch from the previous heavier/driving songs and gives you a second to catch your breath. This one you can really lock into, with its relaxed, soaring melody and groovy nature. Then comes “Walls” and the guys start working back into the faster, harder rocking feel we’ve come to love from them.
“Oh My Love” starts you off with an extremely intriguing intro, grabbing your attention, before bashing you upside the head with a seriously bluesy riff that will quickly have you bobbing along. Another good song for driving or road trips, as you immediately lock into the rolling groove and hold on for the remainder of this nearly six minute tune. Funny, as with the opening track, I would have been happy if they continued on for another minute or two.
It’s pretty exciting to find an album that you can play cover to cover, and fairly rare in my experiences. But Nova seems to fit the bill. The guys work toward the inevitable end with “Madeline”, “Hate” (another hard hitting rocker), and “Out of the Rain” before approaching that final track.
I knew it was going to happen sooner or later. The last song finally came in the form of “Eternity”, which is a great end of album, sendoff song. Right from the beginning you get the sense that they’re hinting at a farewell. One thing that really struck me about Nova is how well these guys put together a record. Song selection and order is without a doubt an art form in and of itself, and this one happens to be a great example of that. So if you have the opportunity to pick up Nova, I heartily recommend it. My copy is certainly going to get its fair share of air time. And if you ever see RAVENEYE on the bill for an upcoming show, do yourself a favor and get out and see them.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Wanna Feel You”, “Hero”, Supernova”, “Oh My Love”
-RYAN “C.B.” WHITEHEAD