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Avataria – Apocalyptic

Avataria
Apocalyptic
by Mark Machlay at 20 October 2020, 6:32 AM

In order for a band to stick out and get attention, pushing genres and even including just a few elements of closely related sounds can help a band stick out. One such band is AVATARIA, a Belgian extreme metal band that is self-professed to be “light and shadow”, managing to create a powerful blend, redefining dark and black metal consisting of elements of death, thrash, and death metal and even some gothic architecture as well. Going strong since 2009, the Berlin natives straddle the line between heaven and hell while the darkness usually wins and captivates the listener. Writing and recording a demo that was released in 2010 titled “I Was Born” before expanding and improving on the compositions for their 2011 full-length debut “The Matrix Falls”, the band have been fairly consistent with their output ever since. Their next three albums would be released every 2-3 years starting with “Enneagramm” in 2014, “New World Order” in 2016 and “The Last Falling” in 2019. Unfortunately, the year of COVID-19 has grounded all live acts for the foreseeable future, slowing the pace of a band’s popularity. Fortunately, some bands are using the downtime to create and AVATARIA did just that, releasing a 5 track programmatic EP October 2, 2020.

It is good to see band’s taking this extended downtime and using it to their advantage to write some new material. The EP starts with “Joker” opening with the typical saturated black metal guitar sound and a primal scream from Tuchlinski. It’s extremely dark and melancholic – I would call it black metal thrash – that fits the title of the EP perfectly. “No Respect” follows with a slower, crawling intro but moves quickly into heavy double bass. It alternates between the two extremes before everything turns to chaos by the end. This even displays some cleaner vocals from Tuchlinksi exposing his command of the character and especially vocal fry of his signature voice. The middle of the album is a bit of a retread with an updated version of “The Ripper” which originally appeared on “New World Order” four years earlier. The sound has a bit more presence and adds a gothic-tinged piano part giving the song a horrifically macabre vibe. The lead guitar part near the end is a beautiful little melody above the IN FLAMES-like intensity of the ending.

The last two songs are a bit of a departure from the more traditionally black metal first three tracks. “Twilight” begins with a arpeggiated clean guitar intro with sparse drumming but does switch quickly to the darker black metal. The clean intro is expanded on later with distorted chord drones into an instrumental section with fast tremolo picked guitar runs and a very prominently tense two-note piano part much like the theme to “JAWS”. But they still don’t stray too far from home with some guitar arpeggios back into black metal with another distorted scream. “Under the Suns” continues the trend of dancing between the clean and distorted guitars but includes more clean vocals with lots of vocal fry and plenty of reverb.

Unfortunately, much of the work is marred by typically mundane black metal production. The oversaturation of the guitar tones make it very difficult to pick out what the guitarist is even playing. There are interesting little synth parts sprinkled throughout this album but I refrained from even mentioning them for they are so buried in the mix as to render them almost as artifacts of other sounds. While the latter two tracks were interesting to hear mainly because of the experimentation, the first two weren’t much to brag about unless you are a hardcore fan of the band. The remake of “The Ripper” was welcome and had some really fascinating arrangements added but overall, this EP will appeal more to those who are already fans rather than being capable of drawing in new ears.

Songwriting: 7
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 5
Production: 5

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Joker
2. No Respect
3. Ripper
4. Twilight
5. Under the Black Sun
Lineup:
Soleil Bonaqua – Guitar & Backing Vocals
Thomas ‘Tommy’ Tuchlinski – Vocals & Guitar
Matti Aikio – Bass & Backing Vocals
Lucas Freise – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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