Friday, January 28, 2011

Devil's Review : Ave Inferi - Onyx

I think this might be the first review of an album I've done by a band I know nothing about. What intrigued me about this band was the promo description for them.

AVA INFERI are presenting a polished dark gem to the world with their fourth album “Onyx”, which sparkles with a perfect mix and mastering by Dan Swanö. The band is conceived in the year 2005 as the brainchild of renowned Norwegian composer Rune Eriksen (ex-MAYHEM) and Portuguese singer extraordinaire Carmen Simões, whose strong and warm vocals are well known from her work with compatriots MOONSPELL. Their debut “Burdens” (2006) sets the course with a delicate blend of Doom and Gothic Metal that embraces the ancient melancholy of Portuguese Fado as well as a harsh Norwegian sense of darkness.

So as someone who is interested in dark gothic music if it's done right and the name Dan Swano thrown in this how could I not listen and review it? So does it live up to that kind of hype? Find out after the jump.

What instantly grabbed me when listening to this album especially the first track 'Onyx' was that there are no growls present. This is purely a showcase of music with melodies and hooks and Carmen's vocals. That is almost unheard of in this day age. No growls? Yes, this is a showcase of Carmen's vocals which have a range and can be very beautiful almost operatic at times. Don't let the operatic part throw you off. This isn't older Nightwish. There are male vocals in the track 'The Living End' which I assume are guitarist Rune Erickson's but they are sung in almost a monotone register which is not a criticism but an observation. Honestly I would have been fine if more of the tracks had that sort of interplay.

Onyx is an album full of atmosphere and moods of the melancholic type. At times Ava Inferi delve into almost doom levels here. You definitely need to be in the mood for this type of music. It's never fast then a slow mid tempo. Overall it's a gorgeous album in terms of music quality though it does tend to get repetitive on some tracks like 'The Portal'. But again that could be that I'm writing this at 10 in the morning instead of late at night when I should really be listening to this album:)If I had any true negatives on this cd is that Ava Inferi could have done away with the sound bytes present in the song 'The Heathen Island'. It's pretty well out of place and something a band of this quality doesn't need to use a la White Zombie.

Production wise Dan Swano again does an excellent job with this. Every aspect is crystal clear on here. The keyboards are distinct, the bass is prominent, the guitars are blended well and highlighted when it comes to riffing, and the drums sound fantastic. I really like discovering new bands especially when their promos are pretty accurate to what you can expect. I look forward to hearing previous works from this group. If you are a fan of gothic dark music or even doom metal you might find something you like in here. Ava Inferi are not truly breaking new ground but compared to the current landscape 'Onyx' is actually a very good quality release. Check it out when it becomes available on February 14th in Europe and February 22nd in the U.S. through Season of Mist Records.
Score: 7.5 Sins out of 10
You can check out the track 'The Living End' here.

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