Joel Holmqvist | Vocals
Marcus Heffler | Guitar
Oscar Forsman | Guitar
Sebastian Colque | Bass
Niclas Bergström | Drums
1 My Worst Enemy 4:32
2 Red Sky 4:01
3 Altitude Sickness 3:41
4 Erased 3:55
5 Heavy Feather 4:30
6 Look Away 3:29
7 Celosia 4:40
8 Frail 3:20
9 Melancholia 3:09
10 Hidden 4:08
11 Ikigai 2:15
12 More Than a Name 4:33
After making their mark in the Scandinavian metal scene with the 2017 debut »Polarize«, sons of Gothenburg AVIANA are back with their sophomore album “Epicenter” – via Arising Empire this August. Despite being under the radar due to the departure of their former vocalist, Aviana are back with new frontman and vocalist Joel Holmqvist (ex. Walking With Strangers, Oceans Red).
Inspired by 90’s nu-metal, blending a mix of progressive guitar leads as foundation and bringing on a modern era of breakdowns in the majority of their songs, Aviana are… “a new type of heavy, a new era of Metal…”
I had one or two problems writing this review I don’t mind telling you. I have never really liked extreme or alternative metal and whilst Aviana’s PR describes them as “metalcore”, they (or this album at least) are certainly close enough to it to make no odds to ME.
Aviana also curiously claim to be “rooted” in nu metal which startled me a little…I even wondered if I had gotten my sub-genres mixed up all this time…but a simple Google search turns up nothing which sounds like this album, and a bunch of great music with it.
The one element of Avians’s sound which does seem to be rooted in nu-metal (and the standout feature in it for me) is the intense, melodic guitar. It’s the only thing in their music and this album specifically I really liked…otherwise the pattern throughout the album is metal screams on the verses followed by somewhat uplifting (almost angelic vocals) on the choruses (something of a metalcore cliche). Are they saying something about the duality of man? However, screams and aggressive drums are pretty constant on most of the tracks and the lyrics even on the sung choruses are completely indecipherable.
“My Worst Enemy” (Lovely introspective, quiet guitar intro, heavy guitar and drums fanfare followed by non-stop loud metal screams…the choruses are sung in a nice harmony alongside the metal scream vocal).
“Red Sky” (No! It’s not a Status Quo cover! More screams, and harmonies, lots of great melodic guitar some amazing guitar licks).
“Altitude Sickness” (Intense, melodic guitar intro, good standard drum beat, more screams followed by more sung harmonized background vocals. Some good drums end the track with same intense melodic guitar).
“Erased” (Chugging guitar intro, more guitar and drums fanfare. Some interesting pauses before crashing back in and out. More chugging guitar, an eerie, echoing vocalised ending).
“Heavy Feather” (More of that melodic guitar, long DM snarl, more thumping drums – more of the same. More great harmonized vocals. Even more interesting stops and starts).
“Look Away” (Super intense guitar strumming, with the established harmonies and drums. If they actually SUNG it I would like it more).
“Celosia” (Running water sound effect. Building guitar intro, very atmospheric and much, much slower. There is much more singing on this track but the lyrics are still indecipherable. Is it a different singer? Especially on the choruses? A more standard drum beat here but lazy sounding fill-ins, it sounds like the drummer is just looking for something to do).
“Frail” (Frenetic guitar intro, lots of atmosphere. Good riffing, Constant screaming, snarling. Somewhat laid back (relatively) drumming).
“Melancholia” (An apt(ish) title. A very sad little intro, the singers seem to swap roles here. A harmonized lead vocal with lots of snarling answer-backs (though what exactly the questions are – let alone the answers – I have no idea). Relentless, powerful riffing – the guitar is amazing throughout. Nice, quiet, slow middle eight with sung vocals. Then it slams back in with the metal screaming and blast beats).
“Hidden” (Same riffing, snarls, harmonies, Body Count style fill-ins, intense melodic, atmospheric guitar, slows down at the end).
“Ikgai” (Really nice, prog style clean guitar intro, a surprisingly nice quiet drums…some synth drum machine drumming? Good lick…then back into the hard metal guitar and drums. An instrumental track, nice change from the constant screaming and snarling on every other track. It’s quite short too ).
“More Than a Name” (A very quiet intro…synth? It’s then back into the riffing, blast beats, snarls and harmonies. Pounding drums, four on the floor…at one point reminded me a little of “Waiting for the Man” by Velvet Underground! It goes very quiet near the end.
I have to give this album a 2/5 as “disappointing”. Quite frankly, if the songs were sung not screamed I think I would like it it much more. But if you’re a bonafide metal-core head you would probably give it a 3.5 at least…perhaps higher – who knows?