Rise of Avernus
30th March 2015 – Code666 Records
01. In the Absence of Will
02. Path to Shekinah
03. Acta Est Fabula
04. An Alarum of Fate
05. In Hope We Drown
Australia may be upside down, but it is also a nation that has seen a slew of interesting and colourfully creative extreme metal bands blossom within it in the past few years. With the likes of Germ, Ne Obliviscaris, Hemina, and Ill Omen all hailing from the land down under, it’s pretty clear that the crocodile hunting folk are tuning into something special. Rise of Avernus are another such band, and on their new EP titled Dramatis Personae they can be found one combining a melodic, deathy, doomy approach with orchestral arrangement and flair.
Some of these orchestral elements seems oddly separated from the rest of the music however, with opening song “In The Absence Of Will” the worst offender (although “An Alarum of Fate” suffers from as well). “Path to Shekinah“ quickly corrects things however, weaving more delicate parts into the song and using both male and female vocals to play off of the slower sections. Dramatis Personae feels like a cocktail of latter-day Amorphis shaken up over Septicflesh, using the better parts of both.
The clean vocal chorus section in “An Alarum of Fate” is heartrendingly pretty, surrounded as it is by graceful instrumentation and a flittering drum beat. It immediately falls into a even lovelier clean section where the piano is permitted to dance around in the midst of the music, creating a truly sublime piece. “In Hope We Drown” goes on to top even that, with a heartfelt beginning build frenetically to an abrupt end, finally bringing this phantasmagorical journey to a close.
Notable on third song “Acta Est Fabula” is a guest appearance by none other than Grutle Kjelsson of Norway’s Enslaved. One has to wonder if the song was written with him in mind, because it certainly feels like the most extreme and intense song on the record, with the most orchestral presence and the heaviest riffage. Then again, perhaps it was simply because of that that this was the song chosen.
Grutle’s part is mostly limited to a spoken word passage in the middle, in a manner that is oddly reminiscent of Chris Lee’s narrative sections in Rhapsody of Fire’s albums. It’s interesting, and it is a great name to have on a track, but as it is only a few bars long, it is perhaps not entirely necessary.
The songs are written with a natural flow in mind, and indeed each song flows into the next without a break, so they almost appear as one long thirty-minute piece. “Acta Est Fabula” calms down into a light and dancing piano line before transitioning into “An Alarum of Fate” which then builds back up into bigger guitars and symphonies. There are places where transitions are noticeable, but it’s never jarring;
Mix-wise, the drums are a little tame and could be more powerful, but the rest of the instrumentation is well done. The piano and orchestral elements are generally nicely blended in with the guitars – a lesson that perhaps Fleshgod Apocalypse should learn for their next album.
Dramatis Personae is a purposeful record – one that reveals its stronger side as it marches onward. “An Alarum of Fate” and “In Hope We Drown” are two of the stronger tracks to come out of this young year so far, and the three preceding tracks are no slouches either. The orchestral elements are, for the most part, well integrated and add a lovely layer of beauty and depth to the melodic structure of the song. Nothing about each instrument individually stands out, but it’s a solid release that should hopefully see Rise of Avernus earn more attention internationally.
Best songs: “In Hope We Drown” “An Alarum of Fate”