posted on 8/2011 By:
Not long after Code666 brought attention to yet another excellent not-quite-avant-garde blackened metal band in Johann Wolfgang Pozoj, here comes Ahdistuksen Aihio Productions with Germany’s Ave Maria. Both compellingly odd and oddly compelling, Chapter I is simultaneously an exercise in mood and an execution of riff-metal mastery. In that way it brings more complexity mentally than technically. It is also a fully realized, constantly engaging and often quite brilliant album that sums up to one of the more striking debuts of the year.
Heard throughout Chapter I are tinges of some of metal’s more adventurous and free-thinking acts of the past several years. Beginning with a base of almost stripped-down Negura Bunget (particularly in the softer moments), the band also shows a strong penchant for the jagged riffing of Negative Plane, the odd-ball approach of Oranssi Pazuzu, and even a touch of The Chasm’s sense of urgency. In other words, Ave Maria will appeal greatly to the riffier side of your blackened sensibilities, whilst also engulfing you in an atmosphere that is simultaneously comfortably warm and yet icy cold.
What separates Ave Maria some from their peers is their tendency to put melody first and caustic chill second, most often through the employment of prevalent lead guitar. This is nothing overly technical or even an approach that could be defined as soloing, but instead something meant to truly lead the listener’s ear as the jarring vocals provide a harsher contrast. Most of the time, such as during the excellent “Among Them” or “Impulses from the Sphere of Broken Larynx,” these are simply-played single-note lines layered over well-constructed chord progressions.
This melodic approach acts as the glue for the 42 minutes of Chapter I, being used to perfection throughout highlight “With Words Like Ecstasy.” A lead permeates nearly all of the song, warping from a simpler line during the mid-paced beginnings and soft mid-song build-up into a swell of serpentine tremolo melodies during the song’s riveting climax. While mood metal of all sorts can often get by with only a minimal focus on structure (lookin’ at you, hazy hazy stoner doom), this track exemplifies how Ave Maria takes things a step further with a deft sense of drive and flow. Subsequent tracks reveal that this applies not only to individual songs, but to the album as a whole, as “With Words Like Ecstacy” is smartly followed by a breather in the quieter “Tongues” before pummeling listeners with the blast-laden finale “Meandering Through the Tunnel of Trance.”
So there you have it. Yet another exciting and instantly rewarding band drops themselves into the pool of this impossible-to-define and brilliant school of blackened metal. Free-thinking and almost deceptively adventurous, Ave Maria should find a following amongst various fans of the aforementioned acts in no time flat. Here’s hoping that subsequent chapters are as striking as this first.
Register to post comments.