Self-Titled EP by Shun the Raven: Sonic Snapshots

Shun the Raven is a progressive rock/progressive metal band formed in 2015 based out of Greensboro, North Carolina. Their current EP, titled Shun the Raven, is five tracks of viscous summer air, with grinding distortion and driving chords that make you yearn for the open road in the country with friends to keep your spirits high.

The opening track, “Slave to Creation,” begins with the sounds of a steady wind and the low chimes of a guitar, before expanding to a thick rocking groove. The vocals of guitarist and frontman Aaron Monk glide smoothly over the rich rhythms of drummer Chad Hough and moving basslines of Jairus Combs. Toward the end of the song, a thick distorted haste falls over the guitar tone as a breakdown forms and Monk’s smooth vocals become a roar over the heavy sludge of tone as the song suddenly comes to a halt.

The second track, “By the Wire,” opens with a reverberating twang of guitar as slow, lovely chord transitions gradually crescendo before coming to a peak where distortion takes over and the band’s progressive metal roots shine through. The transition reminds me fondly of many of the tracks off of Deftones’ album Koi No Yokan. The remainder of the song is a swift rocking tune that feels like the crunch of gravel under a dirt bike. Between the fast-moving guitar riffs, the equally nimble bass, and the slow, sturdy drum line you can visualize the grinding of pebbles beneath a spinning tire as the song moves ever forward.

Track three, “The Pill,” has a very modern mix with a classic feel. The speedy power chords feel like a callback to the older metal of Anthrax or Mӧtorhead but the inclusion of various minor chords is much more reminiscent of bands popular in the mid-aughts like Bayside or Avenged Sevenfold. Monk’s vocals are much gruffer in “The Pill” as opposed to previous songs on the album, adding another dimension to the texture of their music.

Track four, “Reasons,” brings the atmosphere of the album back down to the smoother progressive rock tones of “Slave to Creation” and “By the Wire,” creating a mountainous texture to the atmospheric soundscape of the album. The song starts with a clean, swift guitar pattern with steady rhythms from the bass and drums lying underneath. Monk’s vocals remain soft in his low register, calmly running through the verses before reverting back to his stylistic gruffness and occasional slides in and out of falsetto for the choruses.

The final track, “Feed the Beast,” is a heavy climax to the album, with a rough, heavy, picked bassline serving as the driving force behind the song and the return of those heavier screaming vocals that existed in “The Pill.” The guitar serves as an additive to the rhythm section, abandoning arpeggios and many single picked notes for thick power chords for the vast majority of the song before slipping back into its role as a melodic force in the bridge toward the end. “Feed the Beast” is a strong finish to a rock-solid album, and I very much look forward to the future releases of Shun the Raven.

The full collection of songs that are included on the Shun the Raven EP are available on the band’s reverbnation at https://www.reverbnation.com/shuntheraven. All songs have been recorded and produced by John Plymale of Overdub Lane Recording based out of Durham, North Carolina.

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