Right from the first, expertly chosen piano strokes, you know this is really going to be something.
Unkindness Of Ravens are the latest in a string of intriguing Irish bands lately returning to a dark form of independently minded, slightly Gothic rock – each of which have had moments of real glory.
These Midlanders do it slightly better than the others – there’s a great deal more poignancy and weight in their melodies, and it’s quite clear to me that they could in time be brilliant.
As ‘Kiss Of Death’ opens with its beautiful, small ‘g’ gothic piano lament, it could be many things. It immediately has the feels of This Mortal Coil. No small recommendation.
Yet it’s but a harbinger of much greater things to come. It ushers in this album’s absolute stunner – a track called ‘Leanan Sidhe’, which is so good it just might as well have come from something like Clan Of Xymox’ awesome ‘Medusa’ album from way back.
It has that darkwave synth down to a tee; yet with mournful Celtic lyric that makes your skin tingle. All of that before going into a shimmering Goth pop/rock main hook that is just incredible.
I’m at something of a loss to say just how good this track is – it’s so powerful, so full. The vocals are set back in the mix, but full of passion in their own way.
The hammond organ tones and simplistic but precise delivery even suggest later Tiamat in a weird way.
Of course, they can’t follow up such an amazing piece of work, and don’t match it again on the album. But there is much left to savour.
‘Dark Night Of The Soul’ gets close to it, opening with a tolling bell and Type O Negative style church organ, before going into a 70’s influenced occult rock number that’s as much Ghost as anything else.
It builds nicely to a well defined crescendo.
This band are not the finished article, and still have work to do. I find ‘Femme Fatale’ a little clumsy at times, though it’s undeniably smoky, in a sort of Tom Waits ‘way.
‘Deirdre Of The Sorrows’ gets somewhat sludgier as well, which is good, but which does take away somewhat from the piano and synth class of the earlier tracks. They’re obviously getting as much on record as possible, no matter when it was written.
The bottom line though is that there is just an absolute ton of potential in what this band are currently doing. ‘Leanan Sidhe’ is pure magic, and if they can even write one more song as good as it in the near future they’ll be solidifying their standing.
I would prefer to see them pick one style and be more consistent with it, whether that’s the harder rock or the more electro ideas; I just feel they need a real identity to push forward with so that people know what’s what.
A storming effort though, and an incredibly satisfying listen.
3.9/5 – Earl Grey ::: 06/01/15