Many rock critics out there will cynically write about how “rock music is dead” and how everything is now “sample this” or “remix that” but California hard-rock band Ravenscroft seem to be on a mission to dissprove this theory with their debut album, “Cosmic Plan”
Guitarist for the newly-formed band, Frankie Ravenscroft explained how “Everything came together so well, it was almost perfect. We knew it had to be from a “Higher” source that made it so. Thus the title “Cosmic Plan” made perfect sense.” The four-piece hard rock band from Costa Mesa, California has a plan indeed, one that aims to prove that rock music is far from dead.
“Our live shows are a combination of Raw High Powered Energy, Thunder and Lightening, Super Grade Aphrodisiacs, TNT, Roller Coasters, The 4th of July, the Best Sex you ever had, and turning Music into Colors you can See.” – Frankie Ravenscroft
Ralph Buso is the man with the rock & roll growl, Frankie is the man shredding the axe, Devin Baker provides the pounding bass line while Roy Santa Cruz gels it all together with the drumming. As I mentioned, Ravenscroft is a freshman band in the rock industry, having officially become a band in January of this year (2014). Frankie (guitars) met Ralph (vocals) through Ralph’s wife on Facebook. Frankie was invited to Ralph’s gig, where they met Roy (drums) and were introduced to Devin (bass). A few SMS texts and iPhone-recorded audio samples later and the band were in the studio, working on an album!
This isn’t to say that these guys are amateurs. Far from it. They have all played in various bands before (“There are way too many to mention them all,” says Ralph) and have been playing music for the better part of two decades and this shows in the music on the record. “Cosmic Plan” is an album that is loud, powerful, raw and, despite revealing elements of other musical influences, is uniquely original in an industry that tends to recycle tried and tested methods and sounds.
The eight tracks on the self-produced record are hard-hitting, guitar-driven and vocally-emotional. Each song has its own form, tone, structure and style. Pooled together they make for quite a well-rounded hard rock album. “Well-rounded” may seem like a polite way of saying the album is “just ok”, but that’s not what I mean. In an industry that churns out bands like they were plastic dolls, releasing a “well-rounded” album, especially as a debut release is, in my opinion, quite an achievement. The distorted guitars and wailing solo on the opening, instrumental track, “Here Come the Raven” remind me of a darker, more menacing version of Van Halen’s “Eruption” and “Drama Queen” flashes hints of Whitesnake guitars, Puddle of Mudd-esque vocals and a Hendrix solo, at which point I stop doing what it is that I often do when listening to new material…I compare what I hear to what I’ve heard in the past and try to find a similarity even when there is none. I take a step back and start listening again from the beginning. A few days later and a number of listen-throughs (the art of listening to a whole album from start to finish, obviously) and I’m enjoying each song and tapping my fingers and feet to the melodies.
“My Disease” is a head-banging, hard-riffing number with heavy riffs, thunderous drums and melodic vocals. “Broken Shadows” can be classified as a rock ballad and builds up slowly, as many rock ballads do, to a energetic and goose-bump inducing crescendo with Buso showing an admirable vocal range. Frankie Ravencroft’s incendiary guitar playing and Santa Cruz’s drumming on “Kill Me Softly” reveal another layer in the musicianship of this band and how well they all come together not only as talented musicians but as a solid rock & roll unit. “Cult of the Damned” closes the album and will quickly become a favourite for those of you out there who enjoy the sound of a good solo as Frankie’s fast-paced and gritty soloing ties all the other elements together. A fine album-closer, by any standards. Frankie Ravencroft puts it best when he says “Each song is different and unique from the other, and that comes from freedom of expression within the band itself.”
And rock music is about that, exactly. The freedom of expression. And while many bands out there conform to the whims of the music industry, thus compromising on their ideals, there still are some bands (though not as many as we’d like) out there such as Ravenscroft in the grimy, echoing garages and on small, shaky stages in dark, smelly clubs and make-shift recording studios that are trying to hang on to their freedom and to, by any means necessary, keep rock & roll alive.
Read the complete interview the band gave to Note for Note Blog here. Check out a couple of the band’s live performances below, follow them on Twitter and/or Facebook and keep up to date with all the band news, tour dates and how to buy their album, on Ravenscroft’s official Reverbnation page.
Note for Note Blog Album Rating: 3.5 RockStars
Standout tracks: My Disease and Broken Shadows