Location: Sydney, Australia
Genre: Progressive Gothic/Doom Metal
Released: January 20, 2014
Format Reviewed: FLAC
Feature: Diving For Treasure
By: Kris Kotlarik
Sometimes, you pick up an album from a band you have never heard of for no real reason. Maybe the album art looked cool, or perhaps you saw the “for fans of [insert band here]” label on the album’s wrapping. In this case, I noticed that an Australian band had a French album title and decided to give it a shot. Sometimes these endeavors are an abject disaster. This is quite the opposite.
This is Rise Of Avernus’ debut effort, and it’s a fantastic one at that. A glance at the band members’ prior history shows a bunch of bands that I know nothing about. As a whole, I don’t know much about Australia’s metal scene, with the first bands coming to mind being Ne Obliviscaris and 4Arm. Rise Of Avernus has now made the list of bands from Australia to watch going forward.
For a band that is labeled as a gothic/doom metal band, they make a lot of forays into death/black metal and add a lot of symphonic elements to their sound. There is a brief section of “Ethereal Blindness,” for example, that has violin playing over a bass groove and a minimalist percussion style that sounds beautiful. The next track, “Embrace The Mayhem,” makes extensive use of a saxophone that is being played in a jazzy style, and the results are stellar. There’s a false ending on this track that trolls the listener with some smooth jazz stylings from said saxophone. The only other false ending I can think of that I really enjoyed was Blind Guardian‘s “The Maiden and the Minstrel Knight,” and this one trumps The Bards’. Catherine Guirguis, the band’s keyboardist at the time, shines on vocals here. Unfortunately, she is no longer in the band, but they recently announced on Facebook that they hired Mares Refelaeda, a new female keyboardist and vocalist. It will be interesting to see what the band does with her on upcoming releases should they decide to retain her for studio releases.
Guirguis is also effective in “Disenchanted,” which begins as a track that could be mistaken for an early-era The Gathering album before changing gears several times. “An Somnium” may be my favorite track on here; it starts with a nice keyboard melody before blasting the listener with some major-league death metal, with violins clearly in the mix. “As Soleness Recedes” closes the album with the best display of clean male vocals here, and has an overall sound reminiscent of Katatonia. “The Mire,” meanwhile, reminds me somewhat of Arcturus mixed with Septicflesh.
The only two tracks that I didn’t fully enjoy were the opener and the title track, the latter of which essentially amounting to an interlude. The opener, “A Triptych Journey,” has a nice sound to it but feels slightly drawn out in relation to the other tracks on this album. One question that I was not able to find the answer to was whether or not the orchestration is authentic or a product of the keyboards. If it’s the latter, then they did a great job on the mix because it sounds authentic to me most of the time. In any case, this is the kind of music that deserves a dedicated lineup of studio musicians that are skilled in non-electric instruments. If Dimmu Borgir can get a full orchestra to play live with them at Wacken, I hope there’s a few good Australians that would pitch in on music like this.
Overall: With its unique take on the stagnant doom metal genre, this album is a clear-cut top five album of 2014 as of now.