Rise of Avernus - _L'Appel du Vide_
(Independent, 2013)
by: Chaim Drishner (7.5 out of 10)
Australia's Rise of Avernus could have supplied us with one of the greatest, most ambitious cliché-ridden albums the metal underground has ever seen, but instead the band have pulled off one of this year's highlights that even those who passionately dislike this kind of melodic, ear-friendly metal wouldn't be able but to appreciate. This recording has scope, talent, inspiration, eclectic songwriting ingeniousness -- the first full-length album by this intriguing band, completely independently released (later re-released by code666 records, if anyone cares).

_L'Appel du Vide_ ("The Call of the Void" in French) owns every goddamn characteristic quintessential to any pedestrian, gothic/doom metal album out there dubbed as such; the dual vocal approach (grunts versus gentle female vocals); the heavy use of keyboards that occasionally usurp the very metallic core of the album; the undercurrents of a well articulated romantic vibe -- it's all there. But somehow, Rise of Avernus succeed in dodging every pitfall presented to them during the course of the album's span. The music is very rich, lush and warm; the instruments are perfectly symbiotic and extravagant; the pomposity is grim and somber; and the songs are effortlessly flowing with vibrant colors and sheer professionalism.

Every aspect has been carefully engineered here: the textures painted by washes of dark colors and bright shades, the arrangements poignant and alluring, and the orchestration is simply sublime. In the songwriting department, the painstaking effort of maneuvering through strange yet familiar soundscapes is strongly felt, as Rise of Avernus go to lengths for the purpose of offering something singular and rather intricate to the masses, using the very clichés that discourage most of the gothic/doom metal haters out there from even trying to give this niche-style a chance.

However, Rise of Avernus is not yet another redundant gothic-meets-doom affair offering the same, familiar, saccharine-sweet, watered-down formula. Rather the contrary: they play an exciting form of passionate metal that when listened to in the right mood and the right setting, can be somewhat of a deep experience, a tour-de-force of neoclassical, orchestral heavy metal where all the right components have converged and reborn as a singular beast of beauty and dread.

Think of a heavier The Gathering, coupling their Anneke van Giersbergen days with their _Always..._ debut album era, but make this hybrid more surreal and musically adventurous, less linear and simplistic, and you get yourself a fine album that will speak even to the cynics amongst you.

Powerful and majestic, the music owns a certain horror/cinematic character due to the wise use of dramatic keyboard compositions, and the choral variety -- embodied by three very different vocal styles -- only deepens the gothic / religious / mysterious essence of the tracks.

Once the play button is pressed, you will find it hard to stop the music until the very end, being interesting and punchy and larger than life, brimming with well executed ideas -- a never-ending stream of inspiration, manifested through this artful, tasteful, meaningful music delivered with top-notch skills.

This album must be listened to, first and foremost, by those who dislike or disregard altogether the gothic/doom metal style, as it conveys the very essence of that beauty-vs.-beast modus operandi this style of metal is famous for, but this time it is done by artistic minds and skillful hands who spare no effort in order to deliver one of today's most satisfying, rewarding and intriguing metal albums. Its building blocks are exactly what makes you flee in horror from this kind of run-of-the-mill aesthetic, metamorphosing those very engines of cliché into something as bright as the sun and as dark as a black hole -- and eventually as beautiful and dichotomous as an old graveyard set amidst a lush orchard.

_L'Appel du Vide_ is ambitious and pretentious an endeavor that puts the money where its mouth is, and if given a chance it will disintegrate every prejudice and misconception you might have had toward the style, hence highly recommended.

Contact: http://riseofavernus.bandcamp.com/

(article published 18/6/2014)

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