Born from a shared calamity in Puerto Rico, Avandra have been busy articulating their thoughts, feelings and skill into their newest production Descender; a collection of prog metal tracks filled with the most intricate and artistic sounds to date.
The album begins with two part track 'Beyond The Threshold: Helios Awakens / Helios Descends,' these tracks work in perfect synchronisation with each other. Kicking off with with a double layered synth and guitar harmonies to really show the skill in the riffs that they deliver; whilst providing the theme of the track and building towards a cinematic soundscape. Beginning with the haunting clean vocals, really bringing in that prog metal style; the whole thing does ring true with classic prog kings such as Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree, which to some may seem a tad uninspired in areas. Despite this, with this many hats in the running in the prog scene it’s not hard to see why they may sound similar, but it does in no way diminish the beautiful riffs on display to more of a shredding metal sound.
When the transition into pt 2 kicks in, it blends perfectly with their previous works and have felt a little awkward when getting into those kind of transitions. Something that they have now perfected, bringing more of that all round prog metal goodness with a tinge of a 90’s inspired synth. All accompanied by a drum and guitar track which are incredibly technical and a flurry of clean vocals layered with shredding riffs, which really shows how much care and thought has gone into these tracks.
It is clear to understand with the album in general how much time was spent in crafting the overall production value in contrast to their previous albums. Each song feels like its own themes trying to bring something just a little bit different, each time keeping it very fresh throughout. However, this is not to say it is a flawless production in every track as some tracks like ‘The Narrowing Of Meaning’ feel closer to other giants of the genre.
The piercing vocals, delivered by Christian Ayala Cruz, are, for the most part, incredible. A perfectly key harmony of clean vocals, giving it a but of a different edge; creating perfect accompaniment to the again impressive technical mix of prog synth and guitar melodies. A prime example being in track ‘Addler’s Bite’, this track is the most effective in creating a cinematic feel of a personal journey. It has haunting dark acoustic moments, which is a breath of fresh air and really does give it that little bit of something different, setting it away from the rest of the album and even the rest of the prog metal scene in general. It’s dark, haunting and utterly impressive.
Avandra, although born through a tragic event, they have successfully poured their thoughts and feelings into this album. Really shining through in the overall production value, noting how much care and thought has gone into the album. Each track, for the most part, successfully sets up its own theme / soundscape, trying to deliver its own message and is frequently bang on the money. However, there are a portion of some of the tracks where the riffs do seem a tad uninspired and, frankly, the vocals do waiver and seem not to blend as well with the overall key on these track. Avandra have delivered a personal, well thought, highly impressive, technical venture, which is sure to generate a buzz in the prog metal scene right now and with the amount of contenders on that hill that is not something to say lightly.
Avandra - Descender is out now via Blood Music.