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Darksynth Album Review: "EP 1" by Draven

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Karl is a longtime freelancer who's passionate about music, art, and writing.

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Initial Impressions

Draven’s EP 1 is swimming in shadows and shot through with piercing moments of tension and terror. His sonic landscape evokes feelings of danger, dread and things lurking in the dark that are better left there. His combination of diverse synth textures and tones, deep bass gloom and massive ‘80s drum sounds produces an album that seethes and threatens from the abyss.

I find the way Draven mixes jagged, slashing synth sounds with high, tightly wound moments that scream in panic and fear is quite effective on EP 1. The ways in which these sounds then interact with delicate piano passages and brighter arpeggios paint strong musical images for me and keep me engaged.

The combination of gigantic, thunderous drum sounds and bass depths on EP 1 strongly contributes to the atmosphere of shadows and ominous approaching doom that permeate the tracks. I enjoy the sense of dread that Draven manages to produce out of these sounds on the album.

Horror movie vibes pour from EP 1 and Draven keeps that feeling up throughout the entire album. My imagination goes wild as it roams down the dank corridors and through eldritch halls of stone, waiting for some nameless horror to leap out of an obscured corner and attack. It is one of the strongest aspects of the music here.

Track by Track Analysis

The album is introduced by the tolling of a bell and a tense, tightly wound arpeggio carried by high chimes slowly swirls in the background. Thunder rolls and the bell rings out again. The arpeggio is full of worry. It makes me want to look over my shoulder to see what’s behind me.

“Unspeakable Horror” starts with bass moving in an uneven pattern below a tense arpeggio that spins high over the void below. The drums surge forward as the arpeggio matches their tempo, spinning out above the beat’s depth and weight. An arpeggiating pattern of notes climbs and descends over the aggression of the rough bass before a steadily pulsating metallic synth moves in over the drums.

The sense of lurking fear and danger is pleasing and palpable as those anxious arpeggios wind out above the raging torrent of sound. Arpeggios oscillate and whirl over the thumping beat and the surging tide of edgy synth that breaks through the music.

The sound of a pipe organ and bending string-like synth carry the arpeggio for a moment before we launch back into the pounding beat and entangled synths. The pipe organ adds additional drama as the beat slows and the uneven bass oscillation and terrified synth move into open space.

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A rush of distant sounds is joined by the voice of a lone bell and elevated twists of terrified sounding synth to open “Evil Within” along with the heartbeat of a kick drum and now the gritty, lacerating pulse of bass is joined by a wandering melody carried by a medium-high synth. I enjoy the delicate lone piano as it echoes out into openness before the cutting wave of synth growls and shifts into slow, full-sounding pulses of synth.

The synth pulses accelerate and an aggressive beat launches along with tightly stacked, medium-low synths moving in unison. The beat and bass keep pulsing as a bell tolls again and thin lines of synth match the throbbing heartbeat. Harsh static hisses over energetic, metallic synth as the uneven grunt of bass winds through and the bell tolls once more.

“Vigilante” begins with a sepulchral roar of sound and expands into bursts that rise and fall as a thick surge of shuddering sound swells into the track. Gigantic, hard-hitting drums move in along with a worried-feeling high synth. Those massive drums surge as elevated synth sounds move in quick throbs.

There’s a pleasingly portentous feeling to the music as the sawtoothed, gritty synth plays over the descending, broken pulses of notes. The grunting synth matches the weight of the drums as a full, distant pattern of notes grows and fades quickly over the weight underneath them. The whole track fades into crunchy rough bass that pulses out and stops, again and again, while the fiercely edged bass pulse moves.

Out of soft darkness, the spinning energy of a continuous arpeggio is joined by hard-hitting ‘80s drums to kick off “The Curse to Die For.” The beat breaks to a single bass note pulsing and a kick drum as the nervous tension grows.

I am drawn to the passage in which sharp-edged bass pushes in along with heavy drums and oscillating, jagged synth notes. An agitated arpeggio wriggles through and that same pattern is replaced by a piano. The grating sounds of the dark synths lacerate and the beat subdivides as agitated notes writhe and fade on a repeating piano.

“BloodSpliced” comes into being on a pattern of distant minor key notes, bright and elevated, as whispers of flowing sound drift in pierced by quick surges of shining notes. An arpeggio circles in, carried on a thin sounding synth with string-like characteristics. The gritty bass cuts and the massive drums thunder as a line of unsettling synth that shivers in.

I enjoy the passage in which triumphant, rising notes move in melodic patterns that climb and descend quickly as full notes drop below them and the huge beat throbs. Slowly drifting arpeggios oscillate as the powerful drums unrelentingly slam under them. There’s a break to warmer notes that burst over the trembling soundscape around them. Rapid, medium high synths oscillate and a shining pattern of nervous, flickering synth moves drive by the beat.

Thudding bass throbs deeply into “Vampire Rave” along with hard, buzzing synth patterns. I like the way in which the beat’s pulse gets my body moving. A varying line of medium synth breaks into a pattern of tremulous sound as the oscillating shake of the sawtoothed synths fades. A shifting line of wriggling synth moves over the heavy pulse of the beat. As the beat slows, scared-sounding notes rapidly tremble through before we return to synth growl and the thud of the beat.

Conclusion

EP 1 is like a Gothic horror movie for the mind. It combines all of the sonic elements that paint a picture of a twisted, blighted world full of horrors that would like to do nothing more than rise up and devour everything in their path. It makes me interested to hear what Draven has for us next in his music.

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