Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Album Review: Avelion - Illusion Of Transparency

Modern metal has taken a turn in an unexpected direction. When metal started, it was hard and heavy, but it was also filled with some variety of melody. Guitar harmonies, vocal hooks, it was music that was still very much based on the traditional song structures that came from normal rock and roll. But now, there is a lot of metal that is hardly identifiable as such, because it has shifted into an almost entirely rhythmic genre. Djent is the obvious place where this has happened, but the effects have leeched into everything. For someone like me, who grew up in a pop world, and lacks the brain wiring to care about what odd number of beats are being played, it can make things tough.

Avelion is not a djent band, but they do approach their version of metal with an eye towards that rhythm. The music the band makes is deeply tuned, and pounds away in syncopated riffs that challenge the lower frequencies of our hearing. They use that template as the basis for songs that do try to inject more melody into the proceedings than many of the rhythm-centric bands do.

The positive of this approach is that Avelion's music is dark and heavy, which gives them a nice palate to play off. Juxtaposing that sound with some more soothing melodies is something that works well to build and release tension. They try to ride a razor's edge, and for the most part do that very well. They don't drift too far in either direction, and instead find a satisfying middle ground, knowing how to stick to what works.

The negative of this approach is that the songs, even on a debut record, blend into each other far too much. One of the reasons I don't gravitate towards this kind of music is because rhythms are harder to remember than melodies. By focusing so much on the instruments making rhythms instead of riffs, there is little to distinguish each song from the next. There is the slight tinkling of pianos here and there, but that's about it. Being in a comfort zone is a good thing, but there needs to be enough movement even within that to allow for the music to stay fresh.

"Illusion Of Transparency" is an album that doesn't overstay its welcome, but you also have clearly heard everything it has to offer by the time it's done. It's a fairly good record, and I don't have any complaints about spending my time listening to it, but I also don't have any plaudits to offer up. It's a solid record, and it's better than a lot of the music I have to wade through, but it's nothing to get excited about either. If music is an economy, Avelion has made a thoroughly middle-class album. It's comfortable, worth having, but not the dream we all want to have come true.

Your mileage may vary, so check them out. They deserve a chance, that's for sure.

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