Raven X of Ohio, U.S.A, delivers a very atmospheric collection of intricate, yet accessible songs that also wield a vicious bite on their debut album “Essence Without Light”. It’s hard to believe that this impressive body of work comes out of a band consisting of only two members, NŸX (vocals) and KHÂOS (all instruments). Both the vocals and the guitar work are excellent. So are the compositions.
The album opens up with an ominous synth instrumental, “Erebos”, which builds the tension for the coming onslaught. “Angel of The Night” roars in like a tempest with its furious rhythm and complex riffing as NŸX assaults us with her raging vocal attack of growls and screams. The track has many layers and cool parts to it, reminding me of early Voivod. The following track “Take The Pain” ramps up the level of energy, which I didn’t think was possible! Short and anything but sweet, it’s a blaze of biting growls and a high-octane guitar leads set to a racing rhythm. “Broken Light” opens with crisp acoustic guitar work and beautiful, melodic new age vocal work! It further speaks to the wide range of talent and diversity present.
Leaping ahead to one of my favorite tracks, “Blood Of A Bitch” bleeds passion and fury. I really enjoyed the musical dynamics as well as NŸX’s lyrics and their enraged delivery. “Immortal Beloved” possesses a brief acoustic lead in and melodic vocals – haunting and trance-like. Interesting time changes here. The title track “Essence Without Light” is entirely melodic, almost “pretty”, with slightly eerie gothic overtones. Again a very crisp acoustic guitar sound, enhanced nicely with backing keyboards. In complete contrast, the proceeding track “Poet” is a sludgy yet tight death-gothic romp. I enjoyed it a lot!
Raven X has really impressed me with their obvious talent and unique vision on “Essence Without Light”. The album presents so many interesting facets of sounds of songwriting with the utmost clarity and consistency, and all the while effectively blending the elements of Goth and Death metal to perfectly compliment one another. If I had one small criticism it would be the mixing and production. Not that it’s bad, just a little dry and empty in the heavier moments where the vocals are concerned. I would love to see Raven X get the necessary production quality to match their outstanding musicianship.
Regardless, this is a great album. I highly recommend it.
Richard Leggatt, HMS