AGM.com and our readers were first introduced to the French progsters of AVERSE in 2007, with their first offspring Scolopendrian Perception Haze. Five years in the making, this album is a massive pillar of romantic progressive metal – not romance as in cheesy buffoonery, but heartfelt and honest. It would not at all feel unnatural appearing on The End Records’ roster about ten years ago; remember bands like Sculptured, Scholomance, Love History, and many others? Wafts of early Winds, Solefald, the ubiquitous Opeth et c, but then again, not at all really. Definitely some (a lot) of Maudlin Of The Wells’ surging musical landscapes, riffs and melodies of the guitars, violin, clarinet, harp, banjo, vocals evolving like waves of water into each other. I almost sense some late 90’s Anathema in there, and some Green Carnation. Brief explosions of post-black metal violence break away from the otherwise all-enveloping soothing and calm energy. Some folk-inspired acoustic 12-stringed guitars, all very pretty. Pretty is a word that comes to mind relatively often when dealing with Averse.
I have one main problem with this album that must be mentioned. It is much, much too long. Six tracks may not sound too much, but besides the two interludes – one instrumental, one not – the main four tracks are all 18-23 minutes long. That is, this is like YES’ Tales From Topographic Ocean, and more. And even Yes, at the top of their career, weren’t able to pull of that amount of music compressed into so few and elongated tracks; and in contrast to the original prog rock bands, Averse aren’t trying to press every possible melody into one track, but rather build atmospheres, letting the musical idas and themes work their way. Sometimes it works, but often it doesn’t, and sections that last for minutes could easily have been cut in half. It took me several times of trying to listen to the whole deal before I actually arrived at the closing track (which, sung in French, of course is the best one). Tying together 20 minutes of rock music that isn’t relying on monotonous repetition (as in the heavier doom metal genres) demands a lot of the composers. Does AVERSE have what it takes? I’m sorry to say – not really. Not yet. Peel off the filler riffs, compress the general track length from 20 to a maximum of 12 minutes; now we’re talking about some seriously interesting music. Because there are many ideas and melodies that are downright wonderful in themselves, but are now hampered, at least for me, by the tedious arrangements.
And finally the clean vocals are a bit weak at points, and the general ambience a bit sappy and sweet – but on the other hand, that is a judgement I wouldn’t hesitate to pass on popular bands like Opeth, Winds and Maudlin Of The Well, so you who read this better be the judge of Averse’s sentimentality on your own. In the end, this is really what progressive metal should be like; eloquent, dynamic, harmonious, competent but not overwrought in its temporal extension. Pretentious? Yeah. But in a rather good way.
Label: Music In Stone
Avantgenre: Progressive Landscape Metal
Duration: 72 Minutes (circa)
Official site: http://www.myspace.com/aversejourney
Review online since: 15.06.2011 / 17:02:27
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