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Unkindness Of Ravens | ‘The Perfect Dark’

It is a bold move – in the understatement of this week – for a still debutant band to release a double album spanning around a hundred minutes of music.

An hour and forty minutes: who has that kind of time to invest in anything other than pure musical nirvana?

Very few of us, I’d wager. So I don’t know whether this was brave or foolhardy given that they’re still finding their feet.

In fact, Unkindness Of Ravens have form here. Their last immensely satisfying release clocked in a ten long tracks.

But even so, this is a whopper.

Smoky Rock

While praising their haunted, gothic and smoky dark rock last time round, I offered that they perhaps needed to pick one style and go with it; to be more consistent. Props to them. That’s exactly what they’ve done here.

They have a signature guitar warmth that is now their calling card. Indeed ‘What Have We Done’ sounds positively candlelit, like Mikael Akerfeldt’s burnished tones on parts of ‘Ghost Reveries’.

The reserve with which they play these tunes is also commendable. Nothing is overstated, and time is given everywhere to let notes decay and beats settle. You can almost see the dust settle through the light during these songs.

‘The Wolf And The Hound’ sounds instantly familiar, with a more doomed and drawn out All About Eve feel to it (there’s a ‘Remember December’ vibe) – and it shares a mood with what remains their highlight song, ‘Leanan Sidhe’ from last time round.

Comparisons with the style of early Gathering aren’t entirely misplaced.

Lightness Of Touch

I like it that they’ve given new prominence to their old school synth sounds in here. Their vinyl crackle warmth is especially impressive in the dark ‘Hold On’. Another track, as it happens, where the lightness of touch in the drumming is rewarding. Antimatter come to mind, a lot.

They’re a band with ideas, from the literary bent of their influences, to the bands they cite as forebears: Set Fire To Flames, Godspeed and all that scene, plus the inevitable Swans through to Sabbath Assembly and Blood Ceremony (who really don’t make that big a dent in their sound).

The result of all that is that they’re resolutely different to the current pack.

Vintage is the watchword at many points. ‘Rambling House’ reminds irresistably of The Animals or Procul Harum with that organ and that Doors-y ride.

But no matter how many nice tones, ideas and vibes are in here, thirteen tracks spanning more than an hour and a half is just far, far too much to take in. By ‘Red Wine And Candlelight’ I’m beginning to feel I’ve been through it all already – and that’s only half way there.

‘Bleeding Heart’ should have been ushered in far earlier, given its strange stomp. So could ‘Burn Me Down’, with it’s almost Ghost kind of 70s synth stomp playfulness.

A seven minute track and a nine minute track still follow. I’m exhausted with it.


I love what they do. It’s great old soft occult style rock, sometimes 60s proto-Doom homage, sometimes hammer horror, more Ghost Reveries than Ghost, but sharing many of the benefits of both.

But by goodness they’ve got to pare it down it they’re going to make it stick. An album this long is for your career retrospective for goodness sake. And that’s when you’re brilliant. Now is not the time for an emerging band to be trying their “Use Your Illusion”.

Unkindness of Ravens could very well be fantastic at some future point, once a few more harmonies, vocal cadences and tempos work their way in.

For atmosphere however, they’re tops. I just dont want to have to take the whole weekend off to enjoy it.

3.9 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 15/05/17

  1. Agreed. super band

  2. Seen these lads playing a gig last year and they were very very good. For some reason I’m finding it a lot harder to get into their recorded output.

    I don’t know if it is the mix or what is the problem, but i feel there is enough in there to come back for another few goes at it

  3. best song on this is the last one

  4. one of the best live bands in ireland live you have to give them that
    good album they do great vids

  5. Catwoman Says:

    Have the biggest girl crush for the piano player

  6. Ivan Drago Says:

    Pretty spot on review, very good album but an absolute chore to get through. If they whittled it down to 50-60 minutes it could be something really special

  7. Ollkiller Says:

    Seen them 3 times live now and been really good each time. Liking some of this but an 1 hour 40 is ridiculous. It’s like they recorded everything and forgot to pick the best tracks and just released everything.

  8. I have given the album 3 listens since my previous comment, and now I think it is brilliant stuff altogether. But yes, it is very long. On cd might be better as it will actually be 2 separate discs instead of one long run through.

  9. pentagrimes Says:

    Gave this a shot based on this review and I’d have to agree with Ollie here, it’s a remarkably tedious record, 45 minutes would have been fine. There’s something about the first couple of songs that reminds me of a depressed, goth Marillion. Not sure what to make of it. Good luck to em.

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