Sixteen years is a fair time to wait for a debut album from a band to say the least but when it sounds as good as The New Enlightenment from British alternative rockers Rayne, the wait for fans will have been more than worth it. It is a release which just pulsates with quality and craft, making one wonder how it has taken so long for us, like so many others, to have come across the great sounds of the band. The album has been out a few months as you read this but is worthy of a look for all those yet to discover the melodic and imaginative presence of the Sunderland trio.
Since forming all those years ago whilst at school, vocalist and bassist Ben Potts, guitarist and keyboardist Adam Dagg, and drummer Steven Naisbet, have certainly made their mark on the UK underground scene. Four times they have been Battle of the Bands winners at a national level, come runner up at the 02 Live & Unsigned final out of 10,000 bands, and been awarded an ‘outstanding contribution to music’ award from a national music organisation after a public vote. Rayne has also raised approaching £20,000 for numerous charities across the years and with their impressive album and the luck all bands need, one feels a wider recognition is coming soon for the band.
The band is constantly compared to the likes of Muse, U2, and Coldplay, and it is hard to disagreed, but they offer other essences which point at the likes of Mind Museum, Doves, and Incubus, though they are all breezes in the original melodic wind of Rayne. The songs are nicely varied but come with an epic air, whether brooding or ignited for a full expansive breath, which wraps warmly around the ear and offers an infectious involvement for the senses.
The expressive grace of the title track opens up the album, its building energy and lively contact a notable introduction and entrance into the album. The following Raise The Alarm then steps forward with fiery riffs and firm rhythms to grab attention before resting slightly for the golden weaves of the keys which drove the first track to return and glow within the skies of the song alongside the strong impressive vocals of Potts. It is a potent brew of rich melodies and emotive heart vocally and musically which captures the imagination.
The excellent mix of sinewy riffs and teasing harmonies of The Ground Floor raises levels next, its inventive blend of incendiary guitars and smouldering harmonies against effected vocals and stirring rhythms an impacting brisk encounter to lick the lips over. It has a rawer more intense presence which marks the beginning of an unveiling of diversity to band and songwriting, soon emphasized by the emotive My Final Plea with its impassioned expression and tender keys. The song holds its shadows close whilst lighting its path with slivers of melodic caresses and heated charm, evolving into a blaze of fervid guitar play at its climax.
Consisting of fifteen inventive and superbly crafted songs the album is a constant pleasure with its greatest heights coming in the irresistible Twisted Flame, the heaviest song on the release with its forceful riffs and prowling energy even in the mellower melodic moments, the equally compelling track The Impossible Story, and My Desperation. The second of the three has a classic rock gait to its excellent body of inventive sounds whilst the last is another passional feast of heart and what feels like personal relevance to the band such the potent delivery and expression.
The classic rock seeded sounds return in Hero Soldier and the closing Springsteen like Against The Natural Order for satisfying and enjoyable results though neither song manages to match some of the other tracks mentioned but again they show the accomplished variety of the album. They are certainly despite their strengths found wanting up against the best track on the album, Compel To Be Pure. Starting with sound bites discussing mental illness over an impacting emotional piano, the track erupts into a punchy slice of rock with fervent guitars and thumping rhythms. It moves into an exquisite mix of the still inciting piano, acute lyrics, and challenging vocals before thrilling further with feistier rhythms and sizzling guitars combining to offer an anthemic treat in exchange for a defined ardour its way.
The New Enlightenment is a tremendous album which all rock fans should take the opportunity to explore and immerse within, its triumphant sounds and large textures an inspiring joy. One can only hope it does not take Rayne so long to follow it up.
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