From the metal bred heart of Italy: Avoral

Avoral_RingMaster Review

Earlier this year, Underground Metal Alliance released their 2015 compilation of the best independent and striking band from the Italian metal scene. It was an impressive encounter insight to the underground scene in Italy and introduction to a host of imagination and invention fuelled bands. Once such proposition was Milan based epic metallers Avoral, a quintet creating a sound as inciting for ears as it is for the imagination. The first of a series of interviews we caught up with bassist Bolthorn from the band to explore its origins, debut album, and being part of the thrilling compilation from UMA.

Hello Bolthorn, thanks for talking with us.

As an introduction can you give us some background you all and how the band came together?

Hi to you and thanx for your interest!

Avoral were born in 2012, after many circumstances and line-up changes, from the merger of previous power-epic metal projects with Ged (lead guitar), Legion (rhythm guitar) and Frank (vocals) and the meeting with Bolthorn (bass) and Nurgan (drums) who came from a symphonic black metal project.

In 2014 we signed with Club Inferno, a division of My Kingdom Music, historical Italian label, and released our first full length album War Is Not Over

For newcomers can you provide a break-down of your diverse sound?

We play a particular kind of epic metal, atmospheric and structured but also hinted with other influences and elements coming from other genres, like Viking and black metal, prog, thrash… We let our minds and inspiration fly free on the instruments, not limiting it to the classic clichés of one certain style.

It’s kind of a combination of fast rhythms, atmospheric parts, violent riffs and ballads, all conveyed to an unique musical aim

Avoral4_RingMaster ReviewWhat are the primary inspirations for the band and you as musicians?

We actually listen to a very large range of musical proposals, from Viking and black scene, to prog, folk, gothic, power and epic… Of course we all love Blind Guardian and all that stream, but as said we don’t want to limit ourselves in a unique direction. We just want to be Avoral

You are part of the impressive line-up on the new UMA compilation album. How did you get to be involved with the release?

We already knew UMA before this compilation, we worked with them for other releases and events, but surely when they proposed us to be part of the competition for the UMA Compilation this sounded very interesting to us, for many reasons. The wide and very heterogeneous audience, the way UMA works, the possibility to be involved in a release with other very good bands we also know musically and personally… In other words, we are very happy to be part of it, it is moving quite well in Italy and also outside the national confines.

I assume the choice of song for this kind of release is never an easy decision. What was the reason or spark in choosing the song which features on the release?

It was not an easy choice, actually. The title track of the album is the first song we officially released back in 2014 and it gained many positive reviews and views on the audio streaming sites, therefore this was surely a good way to increase its exposure, but there were also other songs we were considering, like Journey to the Glory (heavier but also dreaming) or I’ll Rise Again (more structured and epic). Anyway, listeners and reviewers who still did not know it liked War Is Not Over and it gave us the possibility to be found out by new people, so we’ re happy with our final choice

With some bands there might be the urge to pick an easy ear friendly option in song to lure new listeners in the kind of opportunity the compilation offered, but I sense, as with all involved on the album, that you went for something which showed the depth and richly varied textures in your music?

Definitely! We’ re not interested in making “easy” music for people to like it, nor any other easy choice to lure higher audience. Of course there is some more relaxed part on the album, but we have a lot of structured and complex parts in our music and decided to show ourselves in a way that could represent its variety as much as possible. Our ideal listeners have to be open minded and not searching for the typical epic metal song/album, if you know what I mean!

Tell us about your current release which people might like to explore off the back of the compilation.Avoral album_RingMaster Review

As you said, War Is Not Over has many varied textures within its songs. It is a concept album and then it narrates different contexts and episodes of the story, therefore it is needed for every song to have its own features and backgrounds, from heavy to theatrical, calm, progressive… For this and other reasons we decided to have some special guest on the album: Maurizio Cardullo (Folkstone) at bagpipes and flutes, Laura Brancorsini (ex Furor Gallico, The Clan) at the violins, Simone Malan (Henderwyd) at the cello, and Davide Valerini (Obsolete Theory) at the hardcore vocals; the guys made an impressive work and it’s been a great pleasure to work with them!

How as a band does the songwriting generally come about?

Story comes first of all. This means that in our concept we all know how the events are flowing and which consequences they will have, so the music has to represent this at its best. Of course we do not meet in our rehearsals room and mechanically say “ok, new chapter will be this so tonight we will compose heavy stuff, while tomorrow slow” and so on, but we convey our music in the direction the story is taking.

Ged usually comes out with the first riffs of a new song, but the process is totally collaborative and everyone can propose new parts or modifications. There is no limit, no boundaries for us, we just let our inspiration flow free

What inspired the lyrical side of your songs and indeed War Is Not Over?

As a concept album, lyrics are all focused on a certain story, close to the epic and fantasy literature (also the moniker “Avoral” comes from that). Metaphorically, it is like a trip through the life of our character with all its vicissitudes and problems, struggling to find a balance to his internal war between good and evil that, as the title says, unlikely will find an end

The compilation suggests that Italian underground metal is on a creative and inventive high right now. How do you find it on the inside and how hard is it for emerging bands to make any headway in attracting attention there?

Emergent metal music in Italy is living a sort of “new era”. While some year ago, most of the bands here used to play the same genres (mostly thrash and death metal) not searching for a real originality in their proposals, in the last couple of years I’ve discovered a great number of bands composing really good and “fresh” music, trying to go beyond the limits and the borders with quite interesting experimentations.

On the other side, problem is that there is a huge number of active bands and together (most of all) with venues and promoters looking for the easiest choice to fill up the clubs on one hand and financial difficulties on the other hand, it is difficult to emerge and you have to work a lot on every aspect of the band, from live shows, to the communication, and image, and so on. Surely if you let it all discourage you easily, it gets harder to have a real chance

Avoral2_RingMaster ReviewWhat is on the near horizon for the band?

We are now working on the sequel of WINO, so far we have composed a couple of new songs, focused on heavier and more progressive elements. Soon we will also get back on the stages after a little break, plus some other interesting news we will reveal you at the right time!

Thanks again, any last words you would like to share?

Thanks to you for the room you gave us! We invite you all to have a look at our pages (Facebook, YouTube, Spotify and so on) and give a listen to our music, hoping to find you at some live show for some –always appreciated- good beer all together!

Lastly give the readers, as a music fan rather than a musician, reasons why they should treat themselves to the UMA album.

I really recommend it. Never forget the importance of emergent bands and compilations, you could find one of your future favourite bands! And UMA Compilation is really good.

Horns up!

Read our review of the UMA Compilation @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2015/06/24/uma-compilation-2015/

Pete RingMaster

The RingMaster Review 01/09/2015

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Desert – Never Regret

ALL-BAND

It was four years ago that Israeli dark epic metal band Desert sparked ears and imagination with debut album Star Of Delusive Hopes and now the Tel-Aviv sextet returns with its highly anticipated successor, the even more dramatic and enthralling, not forgetting enjoyable, Never Regret. It is an album which explores more potently the uniqueness within the invention which marked out their first full-length release and like its predecessor, it too has moments which excite more than others but unrelentingly the new proposition makes you sit up and revel in its imaginative adventure.

Formed in 2002 by guitarist Max Shafranski, Desert began luring attention, as its line-up grew and stabilised, with the demo The Way To Honor in 2004, though it was debut EP Prophecy Of The Madman which was the spark to stronger and broader acclaim. Another line-up change brought fresh blood and imagination into the band, this soon in evidence upon the 2011 released Star Of Delusive Hopes. There was not the originality to it which now spreads across Never Regret but it had all the essences to captivate, something which again has escalated on its successor.

The release opens with Chasing the Prey, a brief instrumental full of portentous shadows, rhythmic incitement, and enticing harmonies aligned to brewing danger. The track sets the atmosphere and scene perfectly, though it could have done with another minute such the enjoyment. Its departure heralds the gateway for the excellent Assassin’s Fate to stride through with an eager and aggressive cantor. The keys of Oleg Aryutkin instantly cast an almost cinematic colouring to the song, evocatively soaking the sinew sculpted beats of drummer Assaf Markowitz and the tantalising guitar enterprise of Sergei Nemichenitser and Max Shafranski. In no time it is a transfixing flight with its narrative and heart revealed by the distinctive tones of vocalist Alexei Raymar. He has a delivery which for some might take time to adjust to but his presence is almost that of a warrior in the context of the album, a raw yet accomplished protagonist as integral an element in the landscape as the sounds.

ALBUM-COVER      The wonderfully turbulent mix of heavy and epic metal makes way for Son of a Star, it too carrying a climatic air and body to its presence. The bass of Sergei Dmitrik provides a predatory lure against the initial swirling wash of keys whilst jagged riffs collude with lashing rhythms to bring greater intensity into the immersive embrace of the track; a warrior breath and technical enterprise merging to ignite and invigorate the lively crusade. With a great guitar solo from guest Alex Zvulun another potent tempting, the song passes on ears to the mellower though no less intimidating atmosphere of The Wolf’s Attack. Initial orchestral caresses soon evolve and strengthen into more aggressive, at times almost punkish endeavour. Bewitching melodies and billowing orchestration get magnetically involved too, the song creating a volatile canvas for the imagination to explore, with potent suggestiveness offered by another scorching guitar solo.

The album’s title track brings a familiarity with it next, though it is hard to say why. It just feels like something heard many times before but it does not dilute its success and appeal. In fact it only increases the richness of the adventure in song and album, allowing a more accessible union between it and the listener swiftly becoming a major moment within Never Regret.

Zvulun returns to add extra rich hues to The Road to You straight after, as also vocalist Infy who joins the evocative ballad. Her voice becomes a serenading light in the increasingly explosive drama and tempestuous theatre of the track, and though the song does not match the potency of its predecessors there is something seriously compelling to it just as there is to 1812, a track which might not quite excite as those before but is still a riveting and increasingly tempting provocation. Featuring Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear on vocals, the song constantly twists and roars across its alluring proposal, musically and vocally.

Flying Dutchman instantly ignites ears and appetite with the violin skills of Merry Ann Genin, her melodic flames gypsy like in tone and a captivating temper to the savage presence and intent of bass and riffs. The song is outstanding, carrying a folkish swagger and lure in its midst before making way for the orchestral elegance of Final Journey which continues to seduce even when erupting into a more rugged, and in the case of the bass, carnivorous persuasion. Both tracks in their individual ways are unpredictable and enthralling with certain parts creative genius and always a highly satisfying enjoyment.

The dark predatory lures of Imperial Eagle, a song with melodic and orchestral flags waving magnetically within its imposing turmoil, gives another impressive and seriously exciting proposition before Invincible brings Never Regret to a mighty close. The track is sinew and grace in one formidable and appealing conflict, a battle cry and celebration simultaneously.

As much as Star Of Delusive Hopes impressed it is easily outshone by the majesty and masterful creation of Never Regret. It is a release still suggesting there is more to come before Desert find their full potential but with great offerings like this we can wait.

Never Regret is available now @ https://desertband.bandcamp.com/album/never-regret

http://www.desertband.com/     http://www.facebook.com/DesertOfficial

RingMaster 16/04/2015

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Arrayan Path – IV: Stigmata

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Courting their darkest shadows and intent yet, metallers Arrayan Path return with fourth album IV: Stigmata, a release which will ignite the senses and appetite of all melodic and power metal fans with ease. With stampedes of riffs and fanfares of melodic flames coursing through the release, the album builds on the acclaimed encounters offered by previous releases whilst finding an enthralling epic narrative of its own distinction.

Formed in 1997 by singer/songwriter Nicholas Leptos alongside guitarist Clement Fung and subsequently with the addition of guitarist brother Socrates Leptos, the then called Arryan Path made an early impact with a pair of demos, Return to Troy in 1999 and Osiris the following year, but more so with debut album Road to Macedonia released in 2004. This was followed by a six year hiatus before second album Terra Incognita emerged, a release which got nominated for IMPALA’s European Independent Album of the Year Award, the only metal nomination amongst 20 others. Third album Ira Imperium lifted their reputation and presence further as it continued evolving their ear catching inventive and imaginative sound. The Pitch Black Records released, like the previous two albums, IV: Stigmata is arguably not a massive step forward for their already accomplished and potent sound but certainly a new aspect to its descriptive power and colour.

Opening track Clepsydra bursts through the ear with riffs galloping at break neck speed to set their stance before melodic majesty Cover_550x500_lowweaves its absorbing tendrils across the senses. The rhythms of drummer Stefan Dittrich then frames the emerging sounds with punch and forceful endeavour whilst bassist Paris Lambrou brings a snarl to the track which chews on the ear as the keys of George Kallis seduce with epically woven washes of warmth and beauty. It is a fiery and energetic rampage of a song but veined with melodic flames and emotive atmospheric enterprise which ignites thoughts and feelings to embrace the lyrics and their fine delivery from Nicholas Leptos.

Following track The Bible Bleeds opens with a carnivorous fury of riffs and rhythmic confrontation whilst the triumphant vocals lead the listener in to a bloom of heralding calls from the keys, a Middle Eastern imagination teasing the ear with grace and seductive elegance at the heart of the song. It is an excellent track which sets up a hunger for the rest of the album whilst retaining its place as the pinnacle of the release.

The less dramatic but equally as compelling Midnight and The First Born Massacre steps up next opening up even wider melodic arms whilst symphonic whispers permeate the still predominantly darkly cast voice of the song. There is also a deceitful air to the encounter which is even more and understandably pronounced in the following Judas Iscariot. A fire of vocal and harmonic potency veins the track as it takes mere moments to grab the emotions and once the returning Eastern flourish returns to tease the ear before a towering solo from Socrates Leptos, the track sears itself into the passions.

From the tall epic emotive walls of Stigmata, a song which stands astride the listener and takes them on an invigorating ride through melodic climes and sweltering soundscapes with again harmonies infusing the air whilst the bass of Lambrou growls and intimidates with a bestial presence beneath the textured power ballad, the album continues to sweep the listener up in an evocative embrace. The likes of Cursed Canaan with its enchantress of melodic sound welcoming its recipients into another bound of careering riffs and glorious vocal harmonies, and the melodic antagonist Pharaoh’s Wish, in varying degrees continuing to ensure the early hold and persuasion of the album is still a vibrant temptation.

As with the second of the just mentioned pair, some tracks do not quite grip the imagination as others, sparks rather than fires being ignited but there is never a moment where barren emotion is brought to bear in response to the songwriting and its skilled realisation. Equally for each which do not quite raise a flame there is others like Harbingers of Death which stoke up full passion.

Further elevated highlights come with the magnetic track The Storyteller and its irresistible epic stature and the predatory gem Mystic Moon, a song like Charming Paranoia which can only be found on the CD version of the album. IV: Stigmata will undoubtedly and deservedly be swamped in acclaim by power and epic metal fans, but it also offers plenty to recruit the enthusiasm of other melodic metal fans especially with its guest appearances by vocalist Jimmy Mavrommatis of Armageddon and guitar solos by Kikis Apostolou also of Armageddon, Alexis Kleidaras (ex-Deceptor) and George Kousa. Arrayan Path stand distinct to most power metal bands and with this album reward just as uniquely.

https://www.facebook.com/arrayanpath

8/10

RingMaster 11/06/2013

 

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