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The vocals might not be everyone's favourite. - 69%

oneyoudontknow, December 23rd, 2020
Written based on this version: 2018, Digital, Dark Essence Records (Bandcamp)

More of the same, but more intense might be the way to sum things up on this recording. Avast did not deviate from their path, whose conceptual boundaries had been laid out on their debut release. Instead they progressed on it, enriched it, made it more adequate. Yes, adequate. Those tracks lack some of the short-comings of their first release, which is a good thing of course. Notably the production has received a push in a different direction. Whether one could or should go to such lengths and point to the a common conceptual style and describe the basic musical premise as identical, as a style Avast could be identified with, would be too far-fetched, though. Nevertheless, some thread, that would stretch over either of these two releases, can be pointed towards as "equal" or as "definitely the same type".

In terms of the style Avast has remained in the realm of post-(black) metal and hard-core. This is expressed in a musical brew that ranges from comparably calm and slightly ambient-inspired moments over straight-forward and intense black metal passages. The Norwegian band presents music of a variety of approaches that appear with a certain amount of variation over the course of the album. Such is amply represented in the opener already. The listener is lured into a peaceful realm that shortly thereafter is ruptured with a stark contrasting intensity. Black metal blasts take over and the screams of the vocalist add their share to increase the intensity. It ebbs and flows, but the band tends to return to the style that keeps all pushing forward.

It is "modern" black metal if there is such a definite term. *core inspired vocals over music that is neither completely black metal nor is it something else. Post-rock makes an appearance and those other elements and influences help to soften the intensity of the sound and style; such is also apparent in the riffs and arrangements, because these are rather rock-influenced and or tend to deviate in terms of dynamics from the black metal genre. These would be there as well, but are more of a contributing element and not a dominating one. The same can be said of the vocals. Thankfully, the band avoids an endless stream of them in order to make use of all those minutes that each of tracks have in length. Forty minutes in total and at times up to nine -- in terms of the title track -- provide a lot of opportunity to bore the listener to death.

It would be interesting to read the entirety of the lyrics of this release. Especially as the title gives away some of the direction of this release or rather something one can speculate about. Is the premise that has found its way into the fourth track The World Belongs to Man just an exception or is it the rule? Is this level of introspection an actual representation of the conceptual boundaries that would mark the pillars of Mother Culture? Should it be seen in the light of modern reflection of life style, which is influenced by climate change as well as changes in cultural behaviour throughout various "developed" -- how this term actually can be understood should be left open -- countries? Is the title a criticism or a realization?

By merely following the titles of the tracks, a certain conceptual progression can be identified. First there is the recognition of a certain type of culture, then there is the mythological enrichment of it, then man is placed in it, then the world has to succumb to the wishes of man, then psychological reflection or a similar impetus takes over, while at the end a reversion/inversion of the initial set-up of man and its place in the world takes occurs. Yes, this is all rather rough and unconvincing, but why not follow these breadcrumbs? Anyway, how does the music reflect this? Well, with the exception of the last track -- Man Belongs to the World -- each of the previous tracks have a somewhat defined set of elements that each in their own expresses it in some different kind of way. With the closing "argument" in the album the intensity breaks down. Is it a tired realization of the inescapable? While the *core vocals are still there, the eccentricity of the black metal style has vanished and those other genres dominate the realm a bit more. Sadly, there is appears no guiding path that might lead the listener through these various "chapters".

It is all good in their own kind of way, but the vocals are always somewhat hard to digest. This screaming appears to limited to express something aside from screaming, which in the end takes away some of the fascination of the music. As such, the verdict is less positive compared with the perspective from someone who happens to have a certain fancy or fascination for this verbal expression of the lyrics.

Note:
Written on 320 kbps MP3s from the band's Bandcamp entry.

Note 2:
Yes, it is somewhat odd to complain about something when it should be apparent in the first place. Yes, a reviewer of such a band should be aware that a band of their type comes with a certain sound in terms of the vocals, but the argument should still be made that to get rid of these (in part) would/could/should do the music some good.