UK-based rock outfit RavenEye launch their first LP Nova on September 23, 2016 via Frontiers Music Srl. For those unfamiliar with this wickedly talented trio, frontman Oli Brown is a decorated blues veteran who left that genre to play a little rock and roll in 2014. With their energetic performances and bluesy rock goodness, RavenEye was immediately and wildly accepted by fans and peers, earning them a place as support for many major acts, including Slash in 2015. Now on the heels of their successful freshman EP Breaking Out, RavenEye presents Nova, an auditory assault of luscious melodies and rich lyrics, an offering so unique and compelling, it’s destined to send RavenEye soaring to stardom.
The opening notes of the introductory track “Wanna Feel You” form a come-hither riff, and when Brown croons the first lyrics “Close your eyes/come to me,” you’re already there. It’s almost six minutes of bluesy, rocking, seductive courtship leading into track two, “Come With Me,” a roll-down-the-windows-and-scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs tune fueled by a killer rhythm section. Put this one on your workout playlist, right at that point where you want to start crying, right when you need a kick in the ass.
Last year I asked Oli why he formed RavenEye — why not just sit back on the laurels of his already established career. Track three, “Inside” answers that question in a way that makes me embarrassed I asked. Melodies change without warning, hooks come out of nowhere — it’s like riding a rollercoaster for the first time: you never know when the car is going to jerk you left, right, flip you upside down, or just go off the damn rails. For the record, Nova never goes off the rails, but I advise you keep your seatbelt buckled.
It’s a thrill to hear a melody marry itself to a lyric rather than one forcing the other to conform. In “Hero” Brown sings of going down in the flames of the war someone else started, and the descending chords in the chorus play right into that visual. The frantic riffs and drum lines likewise create a feeling of frenzy that fits the message. “Supernova” delivers a little respite, but pay attention because it’s a masters class on the cause and effect of a noted blues master taking rock and roll by the hand. Oli refers to it as “the only bit of peace you get,” and indeed “Walls” delivers on that promise with a heavy drum kick and an irresistible riff. “Oh My Love” calls to mind a Southern summer sipping sweet tea on the front porch, even if you’ve never spent a single day on anyone’s porch. The boys from the UK show they can channel the heart of the deep dirty south. Every guitar solo is hypnotic, transporting you to a place where boys are playing air guitar and girls are dancing with their hands on their hips.
“Madeline” rolls in at track eight, an amalgam of all of Brown’s exes with a scathing message of the shit we put up with from someone we love. “Hate” lays down a lyrical assault on the front end, with a pounding rhythm section that supports the feeling of near exhaustion that is Nova. I don’t hate “Hate,” and in fact will mosh so hard when I hear it live. By the time I get to “Out of The Rain” I’m almost on auditory overload, but this bit of garage band post grunge inspired goodness is a pleasant break before the final track “Eternity,” a pleading soulful ballad with sublime harmonies. “Lay your head down/come to me/close your eyes and see the light.” It boasts a haunting melody that breaks into a power ballad after Brown belts out, “Waiting for you” at the 2:37 mark. Nova leaves us with Oli singing, “Forever is waiting for you” as the song fades out.
I’ve never felt compelled to write a track-by-track review of a CD. Usually I’ll hit the highlights and let you discover the rest. I can’t do that with Nova. It is a masterpiece in total, each song a facet of an emotional manifesto. Nova is brilliantly cohesive. It is lyrically and melodically nothing short of a perfection. No one can question Oli’s decision to take his talents to rock and roll. In the words of Brown, “Lay your head down/come to me.” Do that on September 23th. You’ve earned it, yes, you.