There’s something special about a grunge band with the ability to shine through the noise with melody — that can find a way to exist in both realms. Raven King have a true talent for riffs and hooks and they know it, and their ability to imbue their sound with all the rollicking energy of the 90s creates just enough grittiness to make them unique.
Right from the opening notes of “Carnival”, the balance between something clean and messy is struck. When you think the song, in all its restrained energy, is about to explode, it wisely pulls back: a subtle note to listeners to let go of their expectations. “Drool” and “Full” use strong riffs to drive the tracks in varying directions, the former to supplement poetic lyrics, the latter to build atmosphere in a soundscape. Variety is always present.
A real kudos should go out to Will Boisseau for the unique beats that punctuate Raven King. “Drifting” is elevated to one of the most impressive tracks on the album because of the addictive clicking metal rhythm. It winds into your brain, that beat, then reappears in a new form on “Diminished” which clicks along with raw vocals, addictive and on edge.
The latter half of the album puts your expectations to the test, jumping between genres with quick step pacing. The classic rock guitars and shouted lyrics of “Lost Token” close in on a sweet, jangly-rock vibes of “It’s Not Life”. Were the album to end there, it would run the risk of too bold a leap, but the strange and lingering sound effects (dripping water, the scrape of metal, women laughing) that float around “Armilla” work for the closing track, and act as yet another reminder that expecting any one sound from Raven King is futile.
This is a band that knows what they do well, and they will integrate those skills into whatever genre, themes, and messages they want. It’s that confidence that makes Raven King a group to watch.