A Cloud of Ravens is a Darkwave project hailing from Brooklyn, NYC that pulls in a bit of coldwave and a dash post-punk to created a textured, full sound with a healthy serving of good old-fashioned 80’s influence. Shrouded in a mystery befitting the Goth aesthetic, there is very little information available about A Cloud of Ravens outside of their Bandcamp site. Even my inquiries to the band went woefully unanswered. They have played Nocturne in Chicago so they are indeed real, but clearly they prefer to stay in the shadows where any self-respecting darkwave project feels right at home.
“Sacred Hearts” is the second EP from the Delphian band, a three song offering released June 11, 2019 on Brooklyn label 4LT4RS. This closely followed their first two track EP, “Under the Tow”, in May. This seems odd considering it would have been easy enough to put all five songs into one album but when you listen to “Sacred Hearts” it makes sense that “Under the Tow” would be separated from the rest. “Sacred Hearts” is meant to be a tryptich; it is a set where all three parts come together to tell a story much like an Italian Gothic altarpiece.
The title track Sacred Hearts stands as the centerpiece. The opening synth rhythms set the scene and the rest of the instruments are added in one by one until the song swells into anthem-like proportions - only to bring it back in to an almost hollow space with just vocals and the driving keyboard. The lyrics speak to a vampiric night reminiscent of Anne Rice’s story of Pandora, Marius, and Arjun, and the captivity of Pandora to Arjun’s control.
This theme continues through This Quickening as does the story alluding to a great battle of betrayal and loss. With a nod to Bauhaus’s opening riff in Bela Lugosi’s Dead, just a hint, never heavy-handed, A Cloud of Ravens pays homage to the rich history of Goth music without falling into imitation. The sonic scape is more contemplative with smooth electronic sounds and a more even drum track ending with a magical electro flourish which leads easily into the third track, Alone Inside Your Dark.
Alone Inside Your Dark slows down the beat further, taking us underground to the solace of retreat taken by Arjun. The vocals take a turn from a stark loneliness in the beginning to a more gentle song of hope, “You’re not alone,
We’re not alone,
Never alone inside of your dark”
With a final flourish and few heartbeats of drum the story ends.
“Sacred Hearts” manages to tell an epic story with poetry and prose in just three short songs. The mix is beautifully done with the drum tracks waning and waxing alongside the synths and vocals. Each comes to the forefront to make its point and then elegantly retreats to blend back in to the story. A beautifully crafted piece of modern goth music with its homage to its history.
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