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Album Review: RavenEye – NOVA


Since 2014, RavenEye has established an identity amassing pure, unadulterated hard rock. Its members are already mainstays on the UK circuit, further resonating within the general Eastern European scape. The Milton Keynes trio of singer-guitarist Oli Brown, bassist Aaron Spiers and drummer Adam Breeze cements a foundation of individual successes. However, it is RavenEye that commands a clearer future, full of equally focused creation and unification.

Indeed, both qualities are substantially expressed on their debut album, NOVA. The album’s production values are especially boosted from the EP, elements bursting to prominence in full stereo. Simply consider the album’s opener, “Wanna Feel You.” A swagger-filled blues riff instantly lets the listener of the impact that abounds. What follows is nothing short of head banging fuel—a richer, dimensional take of the initial riff supplemented by blistering percussion. Brown’s soaring tone is punctuated by notes of reverb, emanating qualities of Louder than Love-era Soundgarden. On subsequent phases, his stationary tone is well-blended with the instrumentation and capped by subtle harmonies. I appreciated how certain bits proceeded to ventured into varying styles, all the while keeping a consistent pace. The solo around the 4:19 mark has uniqueness about it. It plays the part of a melody and a backing texture, not exactly in your face, but maintaining a sense of clarity nonetheless. Next up is “Come with me,” which may come off like a straightforward up-tempo rocker by normal standards. It is the implementation of reverb, though, that gives it a distinctive wall-of-sound feel. The band works sensibly in sustaining a level of energy, which carries right over into the third track, “Inside”. This is where the album’s thematic focus begins taking shape. Whereas its first two topics center on a longing for intimacy, this one expounds on a state of boiling tension. The instrumentation is pulsating and frantic, directly alluding to the brain in an overdriven dysphoria. Eventually, the chorus spaces out that tension with a level of awareness—the epiphany of having been taken for granted. As a means settling the tide, the subject of the song futilely compromises with his partner. “Hero” then emphasizes the disenchantment by which the two reconnect. In doing so, he makes her come out victorious, and finds himself defeated by excess guilt. After the extent of damage is done away with, “Supernova” signifies a revitalized spirit. Also present within the track is a refined, commanding sense of pacing. I consider this song a definite highlight. It feels like a breath of fresh air, set by bright, uplifting vocals and catchy hooks. Given that the album has just released today, I am patient in this song’s becoming a single, but I’m certain it would do the band no wrong.

The second half continues along this mindset with “Walls,” an anthem rocker stating that second chance— to break through and reestablish contact. This time, the subject makes certain that he and his partner will stick together on the same path. There is a slight divergence in vibe once the bridge hits, but the song picks up exactly as it should. Brown’s vocal makes a seamless transition upon the solo’s entrance, somehow harmonically complimenting its pitch and tonality. I’d have to give it to the band again for balancing the textural elements of the solo with the forceful. That really makes for a solid listening experience and is essential in keeping the song engaging. “Oh My Love” feels almost like a return to the first song’s mood—confident, persistent, and suave. The interplay between vocal and guitar works the same as it did early on, although the playful nature of the lyrics feels a bit stronger in its delivery. A sense of emotional growth plays into the next two tracks, “Madeline” and “Hate.” This time, the negativity is taken in stride with a sense of humor, rather than renewed grief. On both songs, the thickness and edge of the guitars are brought up a notch, feeling more to the point. “Out of the Rain”, the penultimate track, stresses the push to independence amidst trying times. Even when faced with white lies, an incredible strength stands resilient and undeterred. The instrumental breaks throughout the song contain sharp tonality, amped progressively during each verse. By the latter half of the song, the tribal percussion build, gradually subdues the pace. Finally, “Eternity” wraps up the album with a retrospective viewpoint, dwelling on moments of fickle youth and eventually setting them aside. As a ballad, the length of the song feels appropriate. I felt its mix of acoustic and heavy guitars was competently utilized, in the sense that the transition to heaviness is gradual, rather than expected at a particular point. This makes the ideal closer for the album, all woes forgiven and heads toward a greater, more fulfilling tomorrow.

Overall, RavenEye have succeeded expectations in their shift to album length. The stereo spectrum of instrumentation is enhanced to a superb degree, providing a natural and flowing backdrop for Brown’s voice. I can’t stress enough that Brown is smart in his integrating solos; they are utilized when they need to be, phrased meticulously and have a sparing presence. This album is a definitive career milestone to be celebrated, and the band knows full well that they can only move forward.

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About Jake Kussmaul

I come from a family who is passionate about all things music. I learned to sing at an early age, and by 13, had my very own Fender Strat guitar. I tried my hardest at learning all that I could. Because I was born with cerebral palsy, I had to teach myself an adaptive playing style. I learned to write and record my own music, despite these difficulties. In college, I started making great use of my writing abilities by reviewing music, as well as copy editing. I guess it's best to stick with what you know, while welcoming a fair challenge at the same time.

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