Review By: Alexa Spieler (CD Baby)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Artist: Raised by Ravens
Album Title: Raised by Ravens EP
Connected by a fueling passion for performing electronic experimental music enhanced by classical orchestral arrangements, Siberian Native Kilii Fish (vocals and synthesizers), producer Mark Scarboro (bass, production, and songwriting) and pianist Ramona Freeborn (synthesizers) formed Raised by Ravens. Accredited for handling production, mixing, and writing, Raised by Ravens are an entity of musicianship and artistry, specifically on their debut EP, Raised by Ravens EP. Following the band’s 2012 formation, Raised by Ravens debuted such a vastly eclectic and instrumentally distinctive EP, advancing the group past generalizations and genre constraints, far surpassing any repetitively generic music.
The Raised by Ravens EP isn’t your typical EP that you’ll hear on the radio every second. The combination of highlighted synthesizer layering, ominously beautiful vocals, and strong instrumentals make for a successful new age EP, creating an impressive bridge for the future, not crashing in the past.
The Raised by Ravens EP opens with the EP’s longest track, “Raven’s Lament,” which stands at an impressive four minutes and 38 seconds. “Raven’s Lament” opens with a melodic synthesizer line, shortly joined by a tapping percussion groove and solemn, ominous vocals. The vocals smoothly accompany the heavy emphasis placed on the driving lead synthesizer, adding a soft compliment between the heavier elements. While aurally, listeners may initially focus on the louder grooving synthesizer, the haunting falsettos add graveness to the track that otherwise wouldn’t be present without the falsettos. With Fish’s vocals create the ominous atmosphere, the lyrics share the same darkness “I am Raven | I stole the light and set it free | Now the sun burns in the sky | and I wait | for its embers | to die.” There’s a hauntingly attractiveness to the opening track that immediately evokes the solemness and uniqueness to Raised by Raven’s music.
Following the evidently gloomy and appearing ominous track is one of more upbeat senses: “Constrictor.” Rather than containing dark undertones, “Constrictor” begins with a modern elegance, specifically with the lead synthesizers. There’s certainly an echoing of modern-day electric music that Raised by Ravens latches onto when composing such synthesizer lines. Some may compare the opening to the likes of Skrillex. However, Raised by Ravens isn’t another EDM band and if comparisons are to be made, they would be made to Thom Yorke of Radiohead, especially with the resonating vocals. Deceptive is the original upbeat synthesizer. The juxtaposition of the bright synthesizer with the continuing haunting falsetto vocals make for an eerie atmosphere. Initially, the track may not resonate with the first track, but as the punchy percussion kicks in and Fish’s vocals take a more profound path, the original idea of this juxtaposition is brought even more to surface – completely intriguing. The falsettos don’t particularly drive the haunting nature, but the whisperings layered over synthesizer instrumentations offers an increasingly ominous composition.
Raised by Ravens advances their diversity and musicality with both “Gods of the Twilight” and “Selkie.” Unlike previous songs, “Gods of the Twilight” lurks with heavy instrumentations, allowing the vocals time to enter. Raised by Ravens doesn’t force upon the vocals, but instead permits the instrumental section to create the grave atmosphere. Not immediately relying on synthesizer guidance, Raised by Ravens initiates the atmosphere by introducing the song with an electric guitar lead. The track details Raised by Ravens’ ability to move past expectations and guide listeners to the unexpected. Often present throughout the song is the electric guitar lead, highlighted above the additional synthesizers and again falsetto vocals. The song manages to enforce Raised by Ravens’ initial ideals of synthesizers and drum machines, only to reinforce the band’s musicality with additional elements. A remarkably unique performance is found within “Selkie.” Deceptive again, listeners may initially suspect that the track is another heavy EDM song. Instead, “Selkie” does feature the similar synthesizer introduction and grooving drum hits, but the rawness is incomparable. The credible rawness is located within Fish’s vocals, which no longer necessarily needs to rely on only falsettos to form this haunting atmosphere. Well-worth listening to, “Selkie” is engaging and instrumentally powerful – a song that’ll leave listeners grooving to, yet also delivered in an admirable way.
Comparisons may arise and skeptics may follow, but Raised by Ravens is doing something magnificently different, and that should certainly be noted.
Concluding the Raised by Ravens EP is “War Will Carry On.” A solid composition to complete with, “War Will Carry On” continues to thematically be ominous and heavy. However, rather than relying on simple supportive drums, the percussion in “War Will Carry On” drives the composition. Though choppy at points, the slick drumming is persistent and ultimately the consistent eighth note taps upon the hi-hat eases the faster tempo, allowing the instrumentalists to settle in. Though “War Will Carry On” contains slight variations, the ultimate feel coincides with the consistent nature of reverberating synthesizers and piercingly beautiful falsetto vocals and loud whispers. The track doesn’t finish with ominous vocals, but instead ends on an instrumental note, acknowledging the strength of the instrumental section. The song portrays Raised by Ravens in a new light, emphasizing their eclectic abilities.
Raised by Ravens makes the electronica genre their own and that’s something listeners don’t find everyday. The band manages to articulate haunting thoughts through both lyricism and the utilization of contemporary elements with new meaning and usage. Comparisons may arise and skeptics may follow, but Raised by Ravens is doing something magnificently different, and that should certainly be noted.