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Album Reviews : Avandra – Descender

By on May 4, 2019

As a prog rock and metal fan who loves progressive music that goes BOOM!, I find the new album from Puerto Rican proggers Avandra just a touch too civilised. But for those who love prog that caresses rather than smashes, this album is most definitely your cup of warm, rich tea.

This is this band’s second full-length record, and it finds them really hitting their stride and winding out, really showing off what they can do. Descender is eight songs and just on an hour’s worth of music, with two tracks stretching out way beyond the ten-minute mark. They certainly wear their influences pretty candidly on their collective sleeve. At times they resemble a far more controlled and considered Dream Theater, which is hardly surprising since former DT keysman makes a rather conspicuous guest appearance on the track Derelict Minds and is apparently a big fan. Elsewhere, you can detect strong traces of Steven Wilson and his old band Porcupine Tree, Opeth in their more soothing moments and other luminaries of progressive music.

At the same time, they have their own thing going on as well, especially in the vocal department. The voice and delivery of frontman Christian Ayala is really quite unique. It gives the album a real sheen of originality, despite the way in which the influences have come across.

The songs, as you might imagine, are sprawling epics that take you across dynamic soundscapes. The gripe here is that there is minimal here in the way of actual vocal hooks. The best progressive bands dazzle you with their monumental musicianship, but also give you anthemic songs to sing along and thrust your fist to the sky too. The latter isn’t really Avandra’s bag.

If you’re the type of fan to whom such frivolous things as big choruses and soaring vocal harmonies mean little, then once again this may be for you.

All in all, Descender is a highly accomplished piece of work, designed for fans who enjoy their prog more on the restrained and more evenly balanced side.

Band: Avandra
Album: Descender
Year: 2019
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Blood Music
Origin: Puerto Rico

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.