Just over two weeks ago (December 28), Raven King dropped their self-titled album. Hailing from Providence, Rhode Island, Raven King is made up of A.J. Bucci on bass and vocals; Gerrit Curti, who also produced the album, on guitar and vocals; and Will Boisseau sits in the pocket and provides vocals.
Raven King merges elements of grunge, alt-rock and art-rock into a sound replete with lavish harmonies and opaque lyricism, along with both discordant and elegant filaments. And in the grand tradition of do-it-yourself, the band wears a variety of hats, producing and recording their own music.
Raven King contains eleven tracks. “Carnival” rides a bluesy, drawling alt-rock melody rife with twangy jarring guitar riffs vaguely reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix meets Nirvana. When the chorus kicks in, the melody attains a grungy essence that’s effective. I like the vocals, kind of nerd-chic with a taste of Nirvana tossed in for good measure. “Drool” begins with soft indulgent guitars, followed by a crisp, light groove. The guitars radiate harsh tones that initially grate, but once you get used to them, they take on a tantalizing energy that I like.
“Drifting” delivers a measured grunge melody that reminds me of Soundgarden. The softly potent guitars imbue the tune with dirty flavors, while the vocals add an elusive quixotic color. “Diminished” reflects a grungy alt-rock melody with hints of the blues, along with Raven King’s trademarked jarring guitar tones.
“Marble” starts off with a slightly psychedelic flavor flowing into a polyrhythmic groove with floating art-rock guitars overhead. The high-pitched vocals attain a dreamy semblance and then the guitars ramp up to a potent grunge cacophony prior to descending once again. I like this tune because of its textured energy and creativeness. “Within Reach” rides an art-rock melody with gently riffing/skanking guitars that shimmer with dirty colors. The dreamy new wave vocals drift on soprano tones.
“Skins” begins with jangling sound effects and a bottomless bass thrumming with stark indifference, followed by the entrance of crying vocals. Then the art-rock melody kicks it up to powerful grunge levels, as the vocals warble and whine in discord. “Full” reminds me of a Nirvana tune, grungy rock and angry guitars leading the way. Piercing vocals deliver a quasi-nerd-chic aroma infusing the song with world-weariness hues. “Lost Token” provides punk rock power with grungy alt-rock, giving the tune a raggedy prog-rock feel.
“It’s Not Life” starts off with shuddering vocals and a grinding measured grunge melody that flows rather than pulses. Although slightly incongruous, I like the tune because of the destabilizing vocals and the really tight dirty guitars. “Armilla” opens with kaleidoscopic sound effects and a starkly pungent guitar, along with high vocals that emanate clashing tones. The melody combines art-rock with filaments of pale prog-rock, giving the tune an experimental savor.
Raven King is a strong album, full of catchy grunge/art-rock melodies and opulent vocals harmonies. The album is definitely worthwhile and deserves to be listened to. It will be interesting to see how the band evolves musically.