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Aviations - Retrospect Award winner

Aviations
Retrospect
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 28 November 2020, 6:21 AM

Formed in 2012 and hailing from Boston, USA, AVIATIONS began as a passion project back in 2011 by James Knoerl and Sam Harchik . Upon meeting vocalist Adam Benjamin mid 2012 through mutual friends online, the group began work on a full-length record amidst their studies at Berklee College of Music, tracking nearly everything in James & Sam’s apartment. In the summer of 2012, James and Sam went to Zoinga Recording in Michigan to record live drums for their first record in a brisk six-hour session with engineer Mick Maslowski. Mixed and produced by Sam once again from their Boston apartment, their first record titled “A Declaration of Sound” was finally released on Oct. 13th, 2012.

Now, they present their latest EP titled “Retrospect,” which contains three new tracks and then two instrumental versions of the first two. “Nineties Nine Ties” opens the album. It features some heavy, technical sounds and the melody is released. Those keys open everything up, and it’s obvious that the band has talent and a penchant for songwriting as well. The vocals are quite charming, combined with piano and bass in the verses. They remind me of HAKEN, both musically and in their songwriting prowess. Big crescendos are hit, followed by intense passages of aggression. Everything is working together in this wondrous synergy.

“Outliers” is a massive opus, at just under twelve minutes in length. It begins with some melodic atmosphere, and alluring piano and clean guitar. The vocals are dreamy and ethereal, and they let the piano notes flow freely amidst the heavy accents of drums, bass and guitar. Adam stretches into the upper ranges of his voice here, and when he hits the high notes, you can feel them down your spine. It drops to just piano notes before the half-way mark, and Richard shows you some real skills here. A weighted, djenty passage follows, showing that the band has a few tricks up its sleeve. The timing is nearly impossible to keep track of…one feature of some strong musicianship in the genre of Progressive Metal. It fades to completion with some of the most beautiful piano passages I have ever heard.

“Two Days” is an eight-minute acoustical guitar led song. Three songs that are as different as they can be, but all sharing one common element…sublimity. The song has a slightly sad tone to it, but it is also somehow peaceful at the same time. This is a song of longing for sure…about what specifically I am not sure, but you can feel it in your bones. When the piano joins in, a smile as wide as the oceans appears on my lips…this truly is an exceptional set of three tracks. The first two tracks done instrumentally are just as good as with vocals, but in the end, I miss the vocals, because Adam has one of those special set of pipes…he can be poignant and reserved but also can roar like the fiercest lion.

Berkeley School of Music, you say? Well, it obvious because the band has immense talent…every member contributes evenly but they do so in a way that keeps the melodies and songwriting at the forefront of the music. It’s so damn pretty as well. They pack in a lifetime of various elements into their songs…there are so many different passages but they all somehow fit easily together, like the pieces of a puzzle. Move over DREAM THEATER and HAKEN and allow AVIATIONS their place in the Progressive Metal world. Though only a short EP, it sure made an impact on me.

Songwriting: 10
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 9

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Nineties Nine Ties
2. Outliers
3. Two Days
4. Nineties Nine Ties (Instrumental)
5. Outliers (Instrumental)
Lineup:
James Knoerl – Drums
Sam Harchik – Guitar
Adam Benjamin – Vocals
Richard Blumenthal – Keys
Werener Erkelens – Bass
Eric Palmer – Guitar
Record Label: Independent
     


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Edited 28 September 2021
 

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