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The Unkindness Of Ravens – Virus

You know when you hear a rock star complaining about their ‘demons’? Well, Howlin’ Whippet is the man to call and battle them. And he always kicks their arse. Thankfully, he’s put down Jessie J’s for an hour to review a new album for us.

Despite the rather unwieldy name, The Unkindness of Ravens deal in a very compact, hypnotic electro/rock hybrid. Opener Viper features Nina Wagner’s sultry death ray vocals over Ben Raine’s fuzztone bass and a sparse drum machine backing. There’s a hint of Suicide’s pulsing, propulsive grooves amongst the industrial carnage. This is not a band that sounds like it takes prisoners.

One can imagine TUOR laying waste to an intimate club venue as well as turning heads at a festival. Prototype continues the punishing journey with Wagner’s double tracked harmonies softening the intense, almost psychedelic drone-rock behind her.

Single release You Should Know By Now has something of The Sisters Of Mercy’s heart-starting defibrillation to it. Velvets style guitar replaces the typical bass-driven backing and is all the better for it.

The album has a hint of “side 1, side 2” about it (not a bad thing for us old vinyl-philes) and the second half has a genuinely softer,more reflective sheen to it. Das Gift reminds me of US 90’s might-have-beens Drugstore in its gentle, lilting yearning. Wagner’s vocals have an other-worldy, aged tinge and the whiskey-soaked lyrics of revenge and want are haunting at times. White Road is the show-stopper for me. Another song of longing, mistakes and mystery, it positively drips with regret.

Sometimes they sound like two different bands. The bass-driven dance floor monster versus the softer, gentler balladeers. If anything, this debut album hints that we may have a duo of incredible promise still searching for their identity, and all the better for it.

They’ve made a superb start on their own journey. With a bit of luck, this could be the start of something wonderful. I, for one, hope to join them on the White Road. You should too.

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