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Album Reviews : Rise of Avernus – L’appel du vide

By on October 18, 2013

1380427_612882848755506_2093455365_nAtmospheric brilliance is at the heart of Rise of Avernus’ stellar debut, L’appel du vide. Translated as ‘The Call of the Void’, L’appel du vide is titled after the compulsion individuals often feel when confronted with a high surface, and is characterized by the desire to throw themselves off it. However, despite their tentative labeling of their musical efforts as ‘progressive doom metal’, Rise of Avernus have managed to masterfully wield a balance between despair and hope within their orchestral arrangements. Each moment throughout their debut manages to incorporate a moment of sheer innovation, and creates a sound that is uniquely theirs.

As thunderous war drums echo alongside disturbing whispers during album opener ‘A Triptych Journey’, a full orchestra emits an urgent cry; abruptly, trombones, synths and operatic voices herald the arrival of Ben Vanvollenhoven and Catherine Guirguis’ powerful vocals. Later, the title track of the album contrasts heavily with the despondency of the previous tracks; a singular violin twirls around a sparse arrangement of snare drums, muted gong hits and an intoxicating piano riff. This impetuously transitions into the despair of ‘Ethereal Blindness’; in no way is this surprise unwelcome, rather, it allows Vanvollenhoven an opportunity to showcase his sorrow-tinged vocals. In each of these epic arrangements, (describing each effort as a mere ‘song’ would be an injustice), Rise of Avernus never allow either elation or misery to overpower. In creating a harmonious accord between these opposing and unlikely-paired emotions, and even employing an unexpected saxophone solo during ‘Embrace the Mayhem’ Rise of Avernus illustrates that they are an intelligent musical outfit; each individual is able to experiment with a skill that is characteristic of bands much more experienced than them. 

Rise of Avernus’ decision to allow Jens Borgen of Fascination Street Studios to master their album is a stroke of genius. With the band’s own influences such as Opeth, Amon Amarth and Katatonia utilizing the very same studio for their own work, it will come as no surprise to avid fans of the band. By employing Borgen, Rise of Avernus allow the listener to become entangled in a web of symphonious instrumentals; no single part of the album can be given a stand out honour due to the obvious care and detail labored over each and every part of the band’s debut effort. If such an award must be made, it would be given to both Guirguis and drummer Andrew Craig; Guirguis’ beautiful, melodic vocals are juxtaposed masterfully alongside her own synth efforts, with Craig’s contribution perfectly timing each element, allowing every instrument to both shine and to create a concoction of ‘positive negativity’.

In most debut albums there are obvious mistakes which can be put down to inexperience; a need to mature, a desire to find a sound the band can call their own, even too many similarities to the contemporaries of the genre. The only criticism that can be made of Rise of Avernus is that they may be too similar in style to veterans Nightwish. This would be unfair however, as Rise of Avernus have created an aural experience which is unmistakenly theirs, no matter their influences. If ‘progressive doom metal’ is, by definition, moving towards a destination, Rise of Avernus’ L’appel du vide may well be the vessel which the entire genre is forced to imitate and attempt to overtake.

Band: Rise of Avernus
Album: L’appel du vide
Year: 2013
Genre: Melodic doom
Label: Independent
Origin: Sydney, Australia

Track listing:
1. A Triptych Journey
2. The Mire
3. Disenchanted
4. L’appel du vide
5. Ethereal Blindness
6. Embrace the Mayhem
7. An Somnium
8. As Soleness Recedes


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