Phavian - _Meridian II_
(Independent, 2013)
by: Dan Lake (5 out of 10)
Have you ever imagined metal as a mildly epic backdrop for prettily crooned fantastical meanderings? Phavian have. The Los Angeles, CA crew have just released _Meridian II_, a progressive epic flying gossamer flags from crystalline towers built by strapping, contented men clad in glittering armor. At least, that's the way the record sounds. It floats high overhead, rarely so much as brushing against a body part lower than the prefrontal lobe.

Punk sneer has long twined itself with metallic bombast -- thrash and black metal ancestries shout that fact to the oppressive heavens, and death metal only a bit less so -- too long and too tightly to be comfortably extricated without leaving jagged, stinging scabs behind. _Meridian II_ wears these scabs plainly as it attempts to sand down the edges and dodge a miles-wide extreme legacy of pain, hate, and disgust. New avenues for driving, electrified rock should certainly be sought and traveled, but _Meridian II_ is mixed to relegate any musical darkness to small-type footnote -- odd, since the story that the band apparently wants to tell involves a well-intentioned healer inadvertently causing the sick, violent destruction of all life on the planet. Terrifying stuff for such a pleasant recording.

If _Meridian II_ were graded solely on Elizabeth Matson's rare, compelling voice (heard throughout the record), the album would rank a solid 9. Matson carries the magical tale forward naturally and perfectly, without resorting to standard growls, shrieks, or any sort of off-putting melodrama. But the musical accompaniment -- the very structure and reason for any vocal performance at all, one might say -- rarely connects with enough sheer force to merit the levels of concentration required to unravel the story and its musical framework.

I appreciate the existence of Unexpect but don't especially enjoy listening to them. Phavian generally slide over me the same way. There are ideas here. I just always hoped the end of the world would be more... well, brutal.


(article published 12/5/2013)

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