RavenEye were the musical discovery of 2015 for me. With their mighty Breaking Out EP, I was hooked from the first listen and ever since, I’ve been fervently following their activities as they opened for heavyweights like Slash, Halestorm and The Darkness. With an incendiary show at Bannermans in Edinburgh this year and opening the Zippo Encore Stage at Download, they get better every time I see them.
Recorded as a band as opposed to a passion project of guitarist and vocalist Oli Brown, Nova feels more consistent and is a towering statement of how hard rock should sound in 2016. There’s massive, dirty, bluesy riffs married with Oli’s snarling lyrics alongside his partners in crime, Aaron Spiers on bass delivering the meatiest bass lines you’ll ever hear and Gunnar Olsen powering through his drum tracks. However, it’ll be Adam Breeze on the stool when they embark on their upcoming tour and any new material going forward.
Album opener “Wanna Feel You” is mired in sludgy blues and is a great way of pulling you in. If you know RavenEye’s material, it’s enough to make you think it’s slightly different from what came before yet it’s still the essential RavenEye DNA. One of the beefiest songs on the album it clocks in just under the six minute mark as it builds into a massive writhing beast before the radio-friendly gut punch of “Come With Me” hits. It’s a brilliant juxtaposition of the two songs and shows how diverse the band can be whilst managing to retain their identity.
Between riffs and distortion, Oli Brown is proving his mettle with his weapon of choice and with some of the sounds he manages to get out of his guitar shows he’s intent on making a claim on becoming one of rock’s most talked about guitarists. Having seen the band multiple times, it’s not something to question as his antics will have you transfixed, that is, when you’re not twisting your body into ridiculous shapes to match the music. His voice, whilst relatively unique, you can hear similarities to Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder and it seems he taps into that where necessary and extends it into grungier ends of tracks.
Meanwhile bass mainstay Aaron Spiers gets to flex his chops on his first recorded outings with RavenEye. Whilst Oli laid down the bass guitars for the debut EP, Aaron has put his own spin on it in the live shows and it’s here where he truly gets the chance to shine as his bass rumbles menacingly, reminding the listener he’s well and truly there, bringing in groove and it’s during the bluesier and tamer moments of Nova that his work truly excels.
There’s a lot of different emotions and thoughts swirling around the album and you’ll likely find at least one you can relate to. Whether it’s that self-indulgent asshole you know on “Hero”, the self-doubt of “Inside” and hate on the aptly-titled “Hate”.
Then there’s album-closer “Eternity”, spine-tingling from the beginning, it’s all about trying to find that inner peace we all want and simultaneously finding a physical place to be at peace. A place to call “home”. More acoustically driven than the other tracks, it builds into something colossal and before it had the chance to take hold; it had the hairs on the back of my neck standing to attention.
I’ve been raving about this band since I first heard them to anyone who I think will even remotely like them and Nova has been one of my most anticipated albums of the year as I know the band would deliver something far beyond my expectations, which they’ve managed with ease. Now with a leviathan album full of riffs and grooves, laden with hooks and singalong choruses, RavenEye are continuing their campaign of taking the world by storm.
Nova is out 23rd September on [amazon text=CD&asin=B01HSFG77O] and [amazon text=digital download&asin=B01I4FMOV0].