So not only is the first offering I’ve reviwed from a New Zealand-based act something way out of my comfort zone-it’s also pretty damned awesome.
Enter gothic instrumental and all ’round unique snowflake in my review repertoire: Auckland solo act, Stoned Raven, with their Nemesis EP (what happened to demos, again?).
With six tracks clocking in at just under twenty-two minutes, it’s a pretty fat piece of metal to come right out of the gates with.
I’m going to be completely honest, after taking one look at the kind-of what the fuck album art, I was dubious to say the least. And upon firing up first track, “Chapel of Decayed Sanity”, the production didn’t sound all that promising. This is clearly DIY as it gets. That being said, it didn’t take long for me to set aside my biases, because, well… the music itself is pretty awesome.
I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is that Stoned Raven does so right. While some of the tunes demonstrate some serious guitar and percussive capabilities (see “Demonic Castle”), the riffs mostly just grind away and chug along, with the leads more or less coming across as hypnotic. However, it comes together in a way that is immensely enjoyable, each of the compositions conveying a sophisticated level of atmosphere.
Admittedly, some of the songs sound very similar, leaning on certain musical motifs that border on self-plagiarism rather than engaging effect. The grim production and guitar tone actually contribute to an air of desolation that proves quite entertaining to explore.
Stoned Raven‘s freshman release is a delightfully surprising gem. While suffering from some flaws in the production department (I’d really like to see where this could go with some higher quality editing and virtual instruments), it offers something more than the promise of a skilled up-and-comer, but an authentically enjoyable soundscape.
Check out Stoned Raven on Bandcamp: http://stonedraven.bandcamp.com/releases
And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Stonedravenband