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Darksynth Album Review: "EP II" by Draven

Author:

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

Artwork by Serhiy Krykun

Artwork by Serhiy Krykun

Initial Impressions

Draven’s EP II seethes within a vast abyss of fear, darkness and unspeakable things. Draven (and his guests) create an atmosphere that is full of stark horror and black waves of shadow that devour peace and sanity. The mixture of harshness, delicacy and tension in the different musical elements combine to produce a sensation of creeping evil invading every corner and chasing out hope and light.

The way that Draven balances different sonic elements on EP II is a large part of its effectiveness. There’s a baseline feeling of simmering dread that forms as a result of the abyss deep bass that rumbles on many of the tracks. When that extremely deep bass combines with gigantic drums and sawtoothed, slashing synths that lacerate the music the end result is a feeling of constant danger and fear.

Synths that are tightly wound, tense and nervous also contribute to the threatening atmosphere of the music. The way they scream and howl ramps up the sensation that something awful is about to happen. There’s a relentless feeling that around each corner, some fresh horror lies in wait to savage the listener.

I also enjoy the contrasts provided by the delicate, wandering piano melodies that punctuate the tracks with forlorn emotions and pain on EP II. Another musical element that adds balance to the darkness is the ethereal voice of the Theremin that trembles through the music in haunted tones. The tragic feelings of the lighter elements only heighten the emotions on the recording.

Track By Track Analysis

Here is a look at each track.

“Unholy Blessing”

“Unholy Blessing” comes to ominous life with a rush of cold wind and a demonic voice, speaking words of doom, as twisting shadows writhe below softly drifting piano notes. I am drawn to the tragic, pained melody carried by those notes. A threatening, bright arpeggio comes in on a synth with string qualities along with a heavy, slamming beat and a surging tide of abyssal bass.

There’s a hypnotic quality to the oscillating, climbing pattern of minor key synth that comes in. High, worried-feeling notes descend and flow in an arpeggiating pattern over the slamming drumbeat and the pipe organ notes flow out into space along with the shadowed strings and looming bass.

“Friday Night Bites”

A distant bell rings and insectile, metallic sounds skitter and writhe as “Friday Night Bites” begins. A Stygian, crushing flow of bass is joined by a minor key, elevated synth that fairly crawls with disturbing feelings. There’s a screaming quality to the synth that I find adds nicely to the drama of this music. Ominous chanting flows into a dripping cavernous background before the aggressive slice and slam of the sawtoothed bass and gigantic drums launch the track forward.

A howl and rush of hollow synths and a chiming, brighter pattern of moving sound leaps into a space where pipe organ carries a writhing melodic pattern. A chiming, elevated and terrified sounding series of notes gives way to a Baroque influenced organ part. The bass and beat ram into the track once more and low patterns of menacing sound are joined by a Theremin before the sawtoothed, slashing pulse behind it fades into distorted melodic patterns and silence.

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“The Mark of Horror”

“The Mark of Horror” comes to life with sinister strings playing a resonant, shadowy pattern of low notes as the as the gentle but melancholy piano plays a delicately pained melody. I am drawn to the dark majesty of the pipe organ that comes in below the haunted cry of the Theremin. The massive weight of the drums batters in along with a quickly moving, nervous arpeggio that spins out over the descending void of bass.

A female choral voice cries out over the depths as the tragic piano moves in again. The powerful beat rams into the track once more as the strings scream in fear. The throbbing charge of the drums and descending bass notes drive in along with another rough-edged synth pulse and the organ calls out in a portentous voice.

“Lake Krykun Graveyard (feat. Ectoplague)”

A great rush of dramatic orchestral sound kicks off “Lake Krykun Graveyard (feat. Ectoplague).” The wailing strings, leaping piano and doom-laden voices of low brass come in over the contrabass and cello pulse. The inclusion of orchestral elements is something I am drawn to in this track. The high violins leap in and the pace picks up as quick, cutting bursts of orchestral sound and an aggressively hard bass throb propel the music.

Bright synths flash in tensely wound sonic moments as the arpeggios spin in a nervous dance. The strings burst in again and the minor key melody drifts in on shining, but terrified synth. The drumbeat subdivides and high-strung notes wind over it before the violins play a pattern full of fear and the beat surges in again on muscular, sawtoothed waves of synth. The tense arpeggios circle above all that power as the drums slam onwards.

The track slows and moves into a segment with shadowy, shifting piano notes and a elevated string-like rush of sound before that relentless beat hits again. The track speeds ahead, all of the sonic elements roaring and flowing together before fading out on a slower, still hard-hitting segment with unrelenting bass.

“The Origin of Evil”

“The Origin of Evil” starts with a gliding drift of synth sound and the eerie, twisting voice of the Theremin along with a minor key organ notes. An oscillating, fulminating pulse of bass and battering drums accelerate the track as arpeggios with a classical feeling spin along with the ethereal voice of the Theremin. The track breaks into a glowing, grim pattern of notes and a deep pulse of drums and bass.

The huge wall of the beat charges on again, full of aggression, as the pattern of brighter, scared-feeling notes flickers above it. I like the way that the delicate piano comes in carrying a beautiful and painful melody, full of loss and hurt, as the left hand part lends it a wandering quality. The music shifts back toward the deep wells of horror and the urging, repeating synth pattern.

“BloodStarved (feat. Necromancer)”

A crackling pulse of threatening sound moves into the track’s cavernous sonic space to launch “BloodStarved (feat. Necromancer)” as a high twist of warning synth brushes the background’s vast openness. The beat batters hard into the music along with a minor key, shifting synth line that bounces along as the beat pushes forward. A pattern of dark synth sound is joined by the insistent drive of drums and bass as the high strings cry out in stark terror.


There’s a sensation of lurking dread that I enjoy in the piano and synth parts that rise in waves over the depths shuddering below them. A jagged slash of synth slices into the track and he beat batters onwards with screaming horror above it and the restless beat below it. There’s an aggressive, slow pulse of harsh sound that reaches like ancient tentacles from a black abyss.

"Phantom Dancers"

The relentless heaviness and slashing edge of a steady pulse of synth move over the powerful throb of the drums to start “Phantom Dancers." A medium-high synth plays an oscillating series of notes as the evil, demonic voice over growls through a computerized pattern of shifting high notes. The heavy beat slows and subdivides over the steady pulse. I like the high strung twist of sound carried on the technological-sounding lead as it moves over the drums. The spaced- out, creepy Theremin sound adds a chilling addition to the music.

Conclusion

EP II is an album that creates and maintains an atmospheric feeling throughout every track. I enjoy it because it takes me on a shadowy, terrifying sonic journey that paints vivid images through sound and keeps me waiting for the next twist or turn.

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