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An aperture of Gothic architecture divided by cool and molten scenery. Frozen demons upon centuries of isolated courtship now visited by a wanderer with a quest. The album art, lyrics, and synopsis all contrast each other on reciprocal terms of clashing opposites. Phavian are latently amidst the secondary counterpart therefore entitled, “Meridian II”. With the main line-up and the addition of two other guest musicians, the music too, develops variation throughout the course of its contingencies.
I have a feeling many female-fronted bands are getting attention over looks or novelty instead of music itself. In a male-dominant terrain, one would be inclined to find these instances rather luring. Somewhat possessing a sexist view, I think a lot of women vocalists sound amiss being in the realm of metal. However, they do sound more compatible providing backup rather than lead (see Wolves in the Throne Room). You can thank Elizabeth Matson for being the first female lead vocalist to ever intrigue me without growing weary and destructive upon my favorite pair of appendages (talking about my ears, you pervert). I’m not really sexist to be clear, I can tolerate Tori Amos, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (to name a few). On the contrary, none of these women are in the metal scene but I do think they can tear the balls off some men in vocal ability. Getting back to Elizabeth Matson, I do think she’s a heavenly women, her vocals subdue my mentality’s tendencies of embracing depression. She’s glorious in experimenting with her own vocals. I’ll even say she could be Mikael Akerfeldt’s twin sister in regards to vocals.
Staying within the topic I presented in the previous sentence, “Meridian II” is the continuation of Opeth’s debut album, “Orchid”. An opinion I’m prepared to follow to my impudent death. “Orchid” is my favorite Opeth album so you can just imagine how “Meridian II” affected me. “Adam's Ale” is a good starter to see the fusion between these albums. Progressive metal with folk-influences, can it get any better than that? The answer is no. Acoustic guitars are the essence of what comprises true folk music and in this song, my soul felt transcended. There were congas, maracas, and a hint of Latin-inspired vocation. Now “Purl” is a real heathen. The initiating acoustics reminded me of one of my favorite video games, Dino Crisis (Save Room soundtrack). These guitarists’ greatest conveyor of perfect harmony are their acoustics. This is one of the attributes I wish to see more of, it is most effective in “Meridian II”. Another desirable aspect was Gavin McGuire’s backing vocals. It’s a shame I didn’t notice them until my third listen. Nonetheless, it bounced off cathedral walls as his vocals were omnipresent in a haunting séance.
Providing a distorted reflection, “Mirror Skin” is an organic piano piece executed by Plavian (Orchid’s “Silhouette” is also a instrumental piano piece meaning more inclination in connecting both albums). However, there was a discerning difference. “Sihouette” is more complex and creates a vast array of internal imagery dependent on the individual. “Mirror Skin” takes its manner slow letting you absorb the impact of each note’s residue. Regardless, both are great pieces of art. Progressive metal plus piano is a big yes! Another characteristic I should mention is in every song, the guitars sound subtly different. Both “Adam’s Ale” and “Watersong” sound similar to the axe work in “Orchid”. The former with folk-acoustic resonance and the latter with a somewhat progressive but in addition black/folk sonority. While “Orchid” was full of Akerfeldt’s black metal vocal lineage and growls, “Meridian II” virtually had none with the exception of Gavin McGuire ending the record with a cold dissonant growl.
“Meridian II” is only the second installment of four concept albums. You can bet I will tackle the other two. I have not heard “Meridian I” so I cannot give a comparison in how it differed. Seeing as this is the continuation of “Orchid”, I highly doubt it’ll surpass this album. I can only hope Phavian keeps up this stride with the upcoming two.
Originally written for www.metal-temple.com
A mild, epic, transient, mellow, and brilliant progressive metal album that needs much explaining to be convinced that this is definitely worth purchasing to those lovers of this particular genre of music. The combination of female vocals mixed with a combination of clean tone guitars with a smidgen more of heavier distorted guitar, but slow tempos on all songs combined with a modicum amount of lead guitar work accompanied by a production that's equipped with all instruments/vocals with a totally submissive yet completely awesome sound to it. This is a moody release, meaning it takes it's form with different masks.
The keyboard work is so transient and melodic. Highly original in that area, reflective of Opeth's "My Arms, Your Hearse" via the song entitled "Epilogue". However, it is still original in it's own sense. Just that as an example. Phavian is milder than old Opeth and much less aggressive than them musically speaking. The female voice is so seductive and the songs on this 6 track release is so sedative that suits it good to mellow out to. Something definitely amazingly sleep hypnotic and relaxing. Don't expect anything exceptionally heavy on this release because it simply branches out to melodic and progressive metal to the core of a conglomeration.
I fell in love with this album, much apology in not being able to hear Meridian I, which yielded average results by listeners. Phavian definitely is a talented progressive metal band and "Meridian II" is filled with such an amazing tone to it that devastates those to which prefer to rely on not so heavy bands. I'd think of them as being a mix of bands including Evanescence with old Opeth. There really isn't much aggression at all with this album. It's solely epic as explained before and totally original in the sense of their guitar riffs sounds like none that I've heard before with other progressive metal acts with old Opeth as an exception. But Phavian remains to be much less deathly like.
If you're going to have a female vocalist in a metal band, it's so much less aggression in the music to accompany with that particular singer. The music they came out with when they wrote the music to this album fits so perfectly with their genre and doesn't drown out the melodic guitar riffs and each clean/acoustic overtures combined with heavier guitar is so much suitable for the album to bare resemblance to a true nocturne of a configuration. The music is soothing and mystical. This band knows how to define their genre wholly. Another point on a female vocalist in a metal band, they shouldn't drown out the music like that of Angela in Arch Enemy. Total dislike and distasteful.
There seems to be keyboards that do play in the background in pretty much all songs which give it a kind of echo or reverb sense to each track. Phavian's mission I think is to continue to progress in years to come and evolve musically. Such admiration if I have for the music on this release. It sounds to me like no other nowadays. I'm unaware of their lyrical content since none is available in the CD casing or on their official page phavian.com. If you like progressive metal, you'll fall in love with this release as I have. Sometimes I can't resist to hear this one on repeat. Pick it up, it will not disappoint!