The past eighteen months or so alone have given some truly striking and instinct awakening moments within the realms of dark rock and post punk and it is fair to say that 2023 has continued in the same vein of presenting ears and imagination with some special and often addiction forging propositions. Joining those irresistible propositions is Lost Hymns, the new album from NYC-based duo A CLOUD OF RAVENS. It is release which was highly anticipated in many quarters and rewards such curiosity and patience for its recent unveiling in majestic style.
A CLOUD OF RAVENS is the creation of vocalist/guitarist Matthew McIntosh and bassist Beth Narducci, the pair emerging in 2018 and swiftly drawing keen attention within the dark music scene especially with the release of debut album, Another Kind of Midnight, in 2021.Their sound can be said to draw on the inspirations of bands such as THE SISTERS OF MERCY, BAUHAUS and FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM but quickly it revealed its individuality and with increasing and greater uniqueness over subsequent releases as proven by the host of singles leading up to the release of Lost Hymns, songs which had us for one licking the lips of anticipation for quite a while.
As you read, the band is undertaking an extensive tour across American alongside firstly THE SISTERS OF MERCY and straight after CLAN OF XYMOX & CURSE MACKEY and Lost Hymns makes for the most compelling reason to join them. The Jason Corbett (ACTORS) mastered album opens with Requiem for the Sun, an inescapably captivating track which was soon tunnelling under the skin with its initial rhythmic cast invitation set by firstly crispy beats and soon after Narducci’s delicious bassline. That alone was enough to grip personal instincts, subservience soon rewarded with McIntosh’s tenebrific and calm yet virally lively tones. Virulence lines every aspect of the song, its smouldering yet rousing serenade the seed to drama and cinematic intimation with the whiff of MARCH VIOLETS to its catchiness delicious.
The outstanding start is more than matched by the proposal of In Winter’s Arms. It too opens in compelling style as rhythms nag whilst electric vines escape guitars, its leading hook pure temptation and soon courted by the darker breath of vocals and lyrical intimation. Subsequent light breaks upon its gothic romance and crepuscular clime, a punkish flume adding to the enthralling encounter before Old Ghosts shares its electronic espionage with ears and imagination next. Haunting in its presence and musing, the ever evolving and ear gripping track soon had captivation in its hands.
Next up, The Blackest Mantra enveloped ears and thought in suggestive rhythmic and atmospheric drama, electronic movement bringing in further shadows before the track erupts into an animated stride driven by punchy rhythms and a sobering yet magnetic bassline. Again strands of sonic intimation wraps the proposal, the rich wiring of McIntosh’s guitar as descriptive and impacting as his socially and personally observant words and breath while the equally mighty Parable from rising from chilling electronic mists communicably weaves a broody contemplation. It is an accusation soaked exploration with that air powerfully echoed in its measured prowl and tension loaded yet deceitfully contagious sound.
Such the extremely lofty heights of the album so far expectations kind of assumed moments of less heady but still thickly enjoyable would emerge but they never came, next up Fear Not sharing a small stretch past two minutes of imagination stalking drama and rapacious invention. As predatory in its approach as it is anxiety driven in its pleas and enslaving in its feral catchiness, the track set another peak with Nature of Artifice matching its triumph with its call out of the easiness of burying heads in sand rather than confronting issues such as societal ills and moral injustices. Its opening electronic pulses bear an almost warning siren like resonance before the song shares a synth pop and dark wave courting dilemma and pleasure. Again the secrets of darkness are as seductive as the glow of light within, the band’s music aligning foreboding lined essences with inspiriting infectiousness and here bearing an early MINISTRY hue under a slightly clamorous sky to forge another moment within Lost Hymns which has us enthralled.
The rich fascination of the release was just as unwavering as When We Go Cold took thoughts to a place as exotically alluring as it is Tartarean-esque in its chill. Its atmospheric breath is akin to a union of ULTRAVOX and THE MISSION but equally bold in its A CLOUD OF RAVENS uniqueness and progressive gothic mystery with the following Rite and Ritual just as evocative through its industrial beginnings and noir lit landscape. Even in its sinister calms and arcane eruptions, the duo weaves a caliginous rapture.
The album ensures its soaring presence and tenebrous majesty remains just as irresistible with the final pair of Tower Down and Obsidian Waltz. The first of the two is almost shamanic in its rhythmic fertility with another bassline from Narducci hunting and hitting an instinctive spot as McIntosh’s dusky tones and inventive melodically sonic strings and keys weave a tapestry of darkened thoughts and emotive dilemma. It is a proposal of rich drama and craft, a pairing even more imposing and eventful within its successor and it’s cinematic yet intimate capture of thought and imagination. It is a track again aligning consuming darkness with the light of virulence, balancing their union in echo to that collaboration found in life. Featuring a sample from the movie, The Thin Red Line, it is a stunning end to the unrelentingly gripping release.
Lost Hymns quickly and insistently joined our list of favourite encounters this year so far, and soon standing to the fore of that crowd with every play so if the beauty of darkness seduces than A Cloud of Ravens is a must.
Lost Hymns is out now via NEXILIS RECORDS / SCHUBERT MUSIC EUROPE; available @ https://acloudofravens.bandcamp.com/album/lost-hymns
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
May 26 Houston, TX – The Bayou Music Center *
May 27 Austin, TX – The Moody Theater *
May 29 St. Louis, MO – The Pageant *
May 31 San Antonio, TX – Paper Tiger **
June 01 Houston, TX – Numbers Night Club **
June 02 Austin, TX – Elysium Austin **
June 03 Dallas, TX – Granada Theater **
June 05 Albuquerque, NM – Launchpad **
June 06 Denver, CO – Oriental Theater **
June 07 Salt Lake City, UT – Metro Music Hall **
June 09 Seattle, WA – El Corazon **
June 10 Vancouver, BC – Rickshaw Theatre **
June 11 Portland, OR – Star Theater **
June 13 San Francisco, CA – August Hall **
June 14 Costa Mesa, CA – The Wayfarer **
June 15 San Diego, CA – Brick By Brick **
June 16 Los Angeles, CA – Regent Theater DTLA **
July 21 Meschede, Germany – Live Am See *
* Tour dates with The Sisters of Mercy
** Tour dates with Clan of Xymox & Curse Mackey
Pete RingMaster 20/05/2023
Copyright RingMaster Review
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