Rise of Avernus
On their debut self-titled EP, Australian Gothic doom outfit Rise of Avernus journeys down the dark and melancholic trail first blazed by outfits such as The Gathering and Theatre of Tragedy. The band, first imagined by singer/pianist Catherine Guirguis and guitarist/growler Ben Vanvollenhoven, treads familiar territory without blending in with the scenery thanks in large part to exceptional musicianship and thoughtful songwriting skill.
A key element of Rise of Avernus' sound is Guirguis' keyboard contributions, which vary from somber piano intros to Gothic harpsichord flourishes. Though rather standard fare within the Gothic metal cosmos, the keys on Rise of Avernus benefit from Guirguis' attention to detail and the EP is stronger for it. Synthesized orchestration also figures prominently in the Rise of Avernus sound, and nowhere is that more evident than on the EP's closing track "Beneath The Frozen Hand Of Time". This track also finds the band at their most ambitious, as the well-crafted song rises and falls between peaks of grinding riffs and valleys of atmospheric melodies. The band also unleashes their entire vocal arsenal on this track, including guest growls from Morgoth's Marc Grewe. Guirguis' lilting style, which sometimes can thin out a bit too much at the uppermost reaches of her range, fits nicely with Vanvollenhoven's harsh contributions. Although he's most often a bit deep in the mix, the times when he deviates into cleaner vocal territory tend to be on level with Guirguis. "Upon A Field Of Stone" finds Vanvollenhoven handling the majority of the vocal duties and doing so in a clean, sometimes Gothically accented style (which he reprises a bit on the album's final track). The varied use of both male and female vocals is definitely one of Rise of Avernus' strengths.
The majority of the riffs supplied by Vanvollenhoven are not flashy or complex, but fit well with the band's heavy, somber sound. I should also point out that second guitarist Matthew Bell and Bassist Daniel Warrington joined Rise of Avernus after the release of the EP. All of the guitars and bass we hear on Rise of Avernus can be attributed to Vanvollenhoven himself. As for the guitar sound, once more Rise of Avernus taps in to the tried-and-true Gothic doom chugging that we've all come to love - and once more avoids sounding stale by relying on the strength of their songcraft. The six-string staples of the genre are bolstered on Rise of Avernus with varied pacing, plucky leads, and extended, melodic soloing.
Rise of Avernus is certainly a band of skilled musicians and songwriters. If their debut EP represents what's in store when their full-length album arrives this autumn, Gothic metal fans will have another quality album to add to their collections.
|1||Upon A Field Of Stone||4:53|
|3||Beneath The Frozen Hand Of Time||8:39|