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Quite fittingly, 'Foreword' is my first experience with the band Phavian. Although I first thought that this was an EP that this progressive metal band had done in between longer albums, 'Foreword' is actually a four song sampler of four albums of an overlying concept that they plan to do. The first of these four albums ('Meridian I') dropped this year, the next three have been scheduled to arrive through out the next couple of years, as late as 2013. With that in mind, 'Foreword'is an interesting look into the future, although the band's music itself makes little effort to cover up its past influences.
Due to 'Foreword's status as a sampler, concepts of 'album flow' are effectively thrown out the window. However, while these songs are coming from four different tentative albums, they do not sound all that different from each other. There are, however, minor details that distinguish them from each other. 'Feldgrau' almost instantly makes Opeth's influence on Phavian clear. In later songs- particularly the mini-epic 'Watersong'- Phavian introduces a quasi-avant-garde approach to their music, using some dissonant riffs and the paranoid circus modes that avant-metal often dabbles with. In any case, Opeth is the first band that will come to many people's minds when first listening to the band, but I think they most closely resemble the British To-Mera. Chiefly, this is in large part due to the clean vocals of Elizabeth Matson, whose higher register voice is full of vibrato. Against the often crunchy instrumentation of brothers Hassani and bassist Jason Lobell, Matson's voice can sound out of place, but it gives Phavian a more original sound nonetheless.
Based alone on the four songs, I can't tell what this large concept of Phavian's will be about, but if they plan on going ahead with this thing, it will be a pretty impressive achievement by the end of it. Phavian craft some pretty interesting progressive metal, and unlike many bands which stick to one thing they're good at, Phavian's sound bounces around alot. Although the eclectic sound of the band makes them more interesting however, they do not execute everything consistently; the production sounds very mechanical, and while the ideas- be it vocal melodies or avant-metal riffs- all work well on their own, Phavian is left without a defining sound to them, although by the time this four album project is up, I'm sure that issue will be rectified.