Gothenburg based metalcore/modern metal band AVIANA are BACK and ready to shock the earth (and the Scandinavian metal scene in particular) with their newest album, “Epicenter”, which will be unleashed upon the world this week (23rd) through Arising Empire (Nuclear Blast). It has been two years since their promising debut – “Polarize” – which put them on the metal map as one of the forces to be reckoned with, and – believe me – you better come prepared for the earth-shattering impact this record is about to bring down on us.
I am going to be straightforward with you: this is one hell of a heavy album. Somewhat overwhelming at first, but when I took the time to relisten, I started seeing structure in the chaos, and it dawned on me that AVIANA took a risk in the sense that they took a very demonstrative step out of their comfort zone. They tread into much deeper waters than metalcore with this record, bringing secret ingredients such as progressive (djent) metal and 90s nu-metal influences to the table. Since their debut, it is clear that the band worked hard to amplify their identity with complexity and variety rarely seen before.
From beginning to end, “Epicenter” is an unrelenting beast tearing through anyone and anything in its way, but what seems uncontrolled at first, turns out to be calculated and making a whole lot of sense. The three opening tracks (“My Worst Enemy”, “Red Sky”, and “Altitude Sickness”) are balls of beautiful chaos held together by the melodicity that never really leaves the equation, even in their most brutal moments. It is the fourth track – “Erased” – that shakes things up for the first time, venturing into hardcore territory with aggressive bass licks and competing distorted guitars. More on the proggy spectrum are songs like “Heavy Feather” and “Look Away”, whereas nu-metal sparks light up “Hidden”. Aside from numerous surprising influences, ARIANA also relies on unexpected rhythm changes that make every track dynamic.
With the band having passed on the mic to Joel Holmqvist (former OCEANS RED and WALKING WITH STRANGERS), it is only natural for our curious eyes to linger on him. I personally think his vocals strengthen the record’s foundation and elevate it to an even higher level. His approach to the songs just “clicks” naturally with the band’s sound, latching onto the already elaborate emotive ambiance with both the heavy and clean vocal work. I love the cleans in particular because they somehow never lose the roughness and emotional weight omnipresent in the harsher vocals. There is a certain fierceness in Holmqvist‘s voice that I can only describe with adjectives such as “wild” or “savage”.
This is not an album that is different for the sake of it. AVIANA took the time to explore their creativity and individual qualities, to test musical boundaries, and the result is an album that is as innovative as it is alluringly unconventional. I really like the direction the band have decided to take, under the skillful guidance of producer Jeff Dunne (MEMPHIS MAY FIRE, FIT FOR A KING), and on that note, I hope they continue on this bold path. I truly believe it will lead them to even greater heights.
- My Worst Enemy
- Red Sky
- Altitude Sickness
- Heavy Feather
- Look Away
- More Than A Name
Joel Holmqvist – Vocals
Marcus Heffler – Guitars
Oscar Forsman – Guitars
Sebastian Colque – Bass
Niclas Bergström – Drums
Interview Phantom Elite – “It’s always good to share that feeling that none of us is alone in hard times”