Who said rock was dead? Gene Simmons? Well, Gene, just because rock musicians doesn’t became filthy rich out of selling CDs anymore doesn’t mean that rock is dead. It’s quite the opposite, actually. The bands that keeps on playing and the young musicians that forms bands nowadays are the ones that truly loves music and loves to play and they will do it no matter what. So, no rock isn’t dead, it’s alive and well, kicking and screaming and one proof of that is the endless stream of debut albums that are being released in the last ten years or so – they are actually so many that it’s hard to keep up with all the releases. The quality of the music is also very often really high which speaks volumes for the health of rock ‘n’ roll in 2016. So you can sit back in your mansion and relax while counting your green, Gene. One of the new bands that has released their debut full length album in 2016 is RavenEye from the U.K. The band was formed back in 2014 by guitarist and lead singer Oli Brown, bass player Aaron Spiers and drummer Kev Hickman and in 2015 the trio released their debut E.P. “Breaking Out” and went on tour supporting acts such as Deep Purple, Halestorm, Slash, The Darkness and The Blues Pills. The E.p. sold fairly well and it got some critical acclaim from both fans and media.Together with producer Warren Riker (Lauren Hill, Michael Jackson, Down, Anders Osborne), who was the engineer on the E.P., the guys spent most of 2016 writing and recording their debut full-length album for Frontiers records, an album that has just been released. Described as a ballsy, authentic, down-to-earth rock band with a big sound and lots attitude, it was all that it took for me to get interested in this band.
Knowing that Oli Brown is a well-respected blues player with several albums and awards behind him, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out in what direction his new outfit will take – yes, I was pretty sure already beforehand that this would be a pretty stripped and raw rhythm & blues influenced album. Opener, the almost 6-minutes long “Wanna Feel You” gave me right on my suspicions. It’s a heavy and slow-paced epic track that sports clear traces of both Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and sounds that makes me think of the deep American south, but I also find melodies that comes close to the melodic rock sounds that a band like Inglorious has. No matter what, it’s a damn good song. “Come With Me” comes in a faster pace, hard rocking and straight forward, in-your-face and attitude laden and it makes me think of a rougher Wolfmother. It’s a really good song that doesn’t take no prisoners, that’s for sure. “Inside” is a musical roller-coaster musically. The verses make noises and runs amok like a punk song, only to change into catchy melodies and a more plain rocking feel when the bridge and the chorus comes around. There’s also a real cool and groovy 70’s hard rock break right in the middle of the song – talk about not being predictable. “Hero” takes us on a more straight ahead hard rock ride. It’s a good song, but I’m a bit underwhelmed by it, it’s not memorable enough and it doesn’t really take off. The jam in the middle is fantastic, though and that groove is lethal! “Supernova” is a ballad from the more dark places, but even though it’s a slower ballad-like tune, it’s pretty rough and hard – it’s even a bit grungy – or at least it has some of the mid 90’s darkness weaved in it. It has a brilliant melody and it’s very dynamic – a great song! “Walls” also comes with a bit of an alternative, mid 90’s touch. The track has a big groove that goes a bit Zeppelin and Brown’s voice reminds me of Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother.
There’s a big sonic boom on “Oh My Love”, a song I thought because of the title would be a beautiful ballad at first, where heaviness and some bad-ass distortion rules. But there’s also an early 70’s groove on it and the song comes off as a mix of Black Sabbath, Cream and Rival Sons – awesome! “Madeline” is a song that I thought was mediocre at first, but guess what, this big, fat 70’s rocker grew on me while I was listening to it and when the song was over, I loved it. “Hate” is another song I had preconceived thoughts of because of its title. I thought the song would be hard, brutal, angry and heavy and yes, lyrically, it’s pretty aggressive (“you’re nothing to me…” shouts Brown), but it’s not like that at all. Ok, so it has punch and it rocks pretty hard but the melody is catchiness de luxe and it has a refrain to die for. I can easily see this being a hit on rock radio – it kicks your ass while you’re singing along to it – a fantastic song! “Out Of The Rain” is part ballad, part rocker. There’s a swinging groove, it’s rhythmic and some very memorable melodies. It also sports a floating “hippie” kind of sound and I hear both melodic rock, metal and traces of Soundgarden in it – how brilliant. RavenEye close the album with “Eternity”, an epic 6 minute plus ballad where half of it is stripped and earthy with only acoustic guitars and vocals but after half the song, it transcends into a power ballad they way a power ballad would have sounded if they existed in the 70’s. But all the way through, heaviness lies all over the song and the chorus melody is addictive. When the song ends, all you want to do is to listen to the album all over again.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is a bloody great album from start to finish and even though there are the odd song that doesn’t cut it all the way and there might be a thing or two I would liked differently done, it is still terrific. The whole 70’s retro rock scene is full now and has been for some time and I constantly hear how people are getting fed up with it and to be honest, I’m getting there myself. But RavenEye aren’t the usual 70’s retro rock band that worships Led Zeppelin relentlessly. No, this lot has 70’s hard rock and rhythm & blues as their musical foundation but on top of that there’s a whole lot more. There are influences from melodic hard rock, grunge and even more modern rock like the Foo Fighters and here and there a bit of pop joins the party. But the biggest reason for buying this is the high quality songs and the sheer heart and soul, the dynamics and the fact that RavenEye sounds like RavenEye and no one else. If they keep on releasing music that only gets better, I don’t only see a bright future for this band, this could actually be the next superstars of rock!
1. Wanna Feel You
2. Come With Me
7. Oh My Love
10. Out Of The Rain