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Synth Album Review: "Ruins" by Hauntron and SAV

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Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!

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Initial Impressions

Hauntron’s Ruins album is a dark, ghostly and twisting journey through ethereal and shadowy landscapes of sound along with powerful lyrics and Savannah Craven’s (SAV) beautiful, expressive vocals.

The sense of ghostly darkness on this album comes from the feeling of vastness all around the musical elements along with synths that sometimes caress and sometimes lacerate. The thick weight of the bass moving under the music and the way it contrasts with gentler, softer sounds also contributes to the feeling of something disembodied.

Savannah Craven’s voice is another strong factor on Ruins. She can caress the ears or reach high notes with ease, all while delivering an emotional punch. There's a lot of expression packed into her singing, whether it is ethereal or more powerful.

Effective use of synths is another reason why I was drawn to Ruins. There’s a feeling of threat and danger in the higher synths, along with a certain cutting edge. There are medium high synths with a lacerating edge along with shimmering moments that come from chime-like synths.

The lyrics of the songs are suitably full of melancholy, menace and shadow but there’s also a surprisingly uplifting message in many of them as well. They effectively move from feelings of utter hopelessness to a sense of growing control.

Track by Track Breakdown

“Phoenix” comes to life with a deep rush of sepulchral air and a steady rough edged bass pulse that moves into the vaulting soundscape of the track, growing in intensity as it is joined by a second slightly higher sonic pulse that adds drama to the track. Higher synth notes twine through the music, feeling tense and threatening, but also tinged with melancholy.

The synth notes move in reverberating patterns that echo through the music. The sonic palette of this track effectively creates a feeling of lurking threat as the cascades of patterned notes move through the track in waves. It’s a suitably dark and twisted way to open the album.

Whirling, howling guitar balanced with warmer, cascading synths kicks off “The Fear Inside Me” before a hard, deep drumbeat hits along with solid pulses of bass. Shifting sounds oscillate and twist while the vocals chant and moan through the music. The way in which the vocals intertwine with a sepulchral rush of rough-edged synth give the track a sinister cast.

I like the contrasting shimmering segment that moves in and lightens up the heavier darker feeling of the track but still feels melancholy. As the track moves toward a conclusion it accelerates and grows more aggressive.

The lyrics are simple and effectively dark. They say simply, “The fear inside me, the time behind me… running from the start, a million miles away, now everything is dark.”

“Nevermore” starts out with slow, gentle and slightly synths with a ragged edge and a certain warmth. There’s something haunting about them as move into the track, gentle and a little haunting as they flow through it.

Savannah Craven’s expressive, caressing and slightly fragile voice moves in over the gentle, slightly gruff sounding synths that fade into the background to support her voice. Even as it climbs, her voice stays clear and is deeply expressive as those waves of synth float around her like mist. Suffice to say, I am drawn to her singing.

This is a song about internal conflict and fighting to find a way to make peace with it and find a way through. The lyrics start with our narrator hearing the “sound of crowds, voices in my head, lost and needing found.” She realizes she is, “starting to forget who I am and what I want” while adding that they are not the same things.

There’s something that holds her back but she adds that she sees the way past it.
She is seeking escape from a relationship lacking in understanding as she asks why she would stay if she’s “wasting cares and wasting air” in voicing those concerns. Her strength begins to grow despite still hearing the voices in her head and she is “lost but searching now among the underground.”

She is now fighting not to forget who she is and what she wants. Adding again that they are not the same thing, she says defiantly that “they can’t keep holding me back. I gain strength every day.” Her defiance grows more as she bluntly states that “war is underway, wasting tears and wasting fears, I still don’t understand to this day. Nevermore!”

As the song ends, she has faced her demons down and driven them away. She says, “I hear clearly now, the crowds. Voices left my head. I am so proud of where I am now and where I have been."

Gentle sparkles of shimmering synth glow into open space to begin "We Are Light” spinning out slow minor arpeggios before dark washes of bass reverberate with Stygian depth into the track. A higher synth climbs over top of the chiming arpeggios as a drum throb moves into the music along with a distant and ghostly voice. The high synths are tightly wound and the dark bass effectively adds weight. There’s a cavernous desolation and haunting feeling of loss that combine on this track.

“I’ll Bury You” opens with full, rich synth drifts and a quick flash of guitar sound before Savannah Craven’s whispering, floating voice comes in with a certain disembodied quality to it. The way in which her voice’s lost quality delivers the lyrics that are ice cold and full of menace is particularly well done. Deep percussion thuds into the song along with warm rises of synth and the beats are a little broken and disorganized, adding a certain disjointed quality to the music.

Revenge for great wrongs and the destruction of their perpetrator fills the song’s lyrics. Our narrator stands strong as she cries out, “Blood tide pulls you under. Your crumbled empire burns, smashed and in ruin.” There’s delicious revenge in her voice as she says, “You will feel my hand turn the knife. I will seal your fate and I’ll bury you.”

She says that she will bury her enemy because she can see through “through the dark poison that fills your lies” and adds that she will drive a stake through his heart and bury him.” Now she has achieved her goal and “now your king is dead, I’m in your fucking head.”

Her revenge is complete now and she says “you will feel when the waves drown, burning down, buried and you won’t hear a sound when I bury you.”

Thick, clotted deep bass moves under oscillating waves of synth to open “Haunted Heart.” A resonant string sound moves into vast caverns of space with Savannah Craven’s ghostly voice moving through along with it. There’s an almost operatic quality about Savannah Craven’s vocal performance, as she easily and cleanly hits the high notes while delivering the lyrics. There’s a dark melancholy to the track that is beautiful, everything light and airy but melancholy and shadowed.

This song has a poetic melancholy to it as the narrator talks of her “haunted heart, light inside, echo in mind” and says that as she is falling and letting go she’ll fall back into still time.” There’s a philosophical simplicity in the idea of “breathing in, all we are is light inside vibrations.” That light can “travel toward sky and everything below and inside.”

As the song ends there’s a quality of uplift as the narrator says of her haunted heart that there is “light in mind, warm in my skin, letting go within, breathing.”
“Ruins” opens on a sweeping wave of warm sound and open air. The flows of that vocal sound are delicate and a deep drum sound pulses briefly into the music and is silent.

The whole track feels light, gentle and ethereal as it opens. More chanting synth moves in, surrounded by open space. As the track progresses, many levels of vocal sound intermingle, creating a choral feeling as the pulses of heavier bass sound move through in ripples. This is a track that truly captures the spectral feel of the whole album.

Verdict

Hauntron’s Ruins is infused with a feeling of shadow and weight that contrasts with ethereal airiness. The way in which the cavernous, shifting and shaded soundscape moves along with Savannah Craven’s emotive and delicate voice and the powerful lyrics that she delivers is appealing to me. I’ll look forward to hearing more from Hauntron in the future.