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Avernus : ...Of The Fallen

Sadly throughout their existence to date (2004) Avernus has only ever released one full-length studio album, an album that nearly killed the band off and sent them into disarray during the next years. After their very promising early demos, Avernus looked set to have a golden future. Their highly acclaimed demo 'Sadness' had already gained them a dedicated underground following. As such, the expectations for their first full-length release where high to say the least. And that is unfortunately where it all went wrong.

The first hints that something was wrong can be found on the cover. Two songs titles on the sleeve are actually printed with spelling mistakes 'Rennissance' and 'Beautiful Black Heart'. The artwork also looks slightly dodgy, especially on the backside. While sloppy, it's probably due to the small record-label they got signed too. And it really is the music that matters, so lets bring on Rick McCoy's massive death-grunt, the slow pounding riffing and sad -be it synthesised- violin! Well, actually.. no. Because '...of the Fallen' suddenly shows a totally different Avernus than on their previous demos!

As it later turned out, at the time this album was written drummer and fellow band-founder Rick Yifrach had gradually lost his interest in extreme metal and had become a huge fan of popular folk music, as made by Loreena McKennitt. The rest of the band followed his change in musical direction and as such '... of the Fallen' sounds like a strange soft mix of doom-metal with Arabic and Folk influences.

Rick McCoy does not grunt, but does a -not always too successful- attempt at actual singing. The music lacks impact and force and is mostly filled with sometimes overly simplistic semi-catchy melodies. A female session vocalist Rhiannon also sings on many of the tracks and we get semi-folk interludes replete with tambourine and flute. These folk elements are actually some of the best things found on the entire album. Still, when you compare them to real folk or medieval music they simply cannot compare. Just as with the cover of the album, it all comes across a bit amateur.

Is it all bad then, you may ask? Well it is all pretty dire, right down to the recording quality. But once you give the album a few more spins it does sort of grow on you. Because of its more mellow nature, it's good background music. One might even say it's perfect for elevators or phone-waiting music if you wanted to be mean. More seriously however, it's a nice album to mellow out to and just relax. It doesn't demand much attention and some of the melodies are actually quite catchy. Perfect if you’re in the mood for some easy listening (doom)-metal. In some ways the album is also ahead of its time, mixing in folk elements with doom-metal. On some songs it actually works exceptionally well, such as 'Thousand Spirits'. But these highlights remain few and far between.

After the release of this album the band completely lost track. The album wasn't received well by fans and did exceptionally badly. Not long afterwards, personal conflicts within the band also caused various line-up changes. Founding member Rick Yifrach also left the band back at this point. Avernus produced various mediocre to downright bad demos and promos afterwards in the vein of '..of the Fallen'. Only years later did they pick up on their old style as found on their 'Sadness' demo. At some point Rick Yifrach also rejoined the band after personal differences where sorted out (initiated by an article written on doom-metal.com by Rick McCoy). These days, the band works hard on creating a much more professional and powerful mixture of Folk and Doom-metal. Without abandoning their roots the band is set to hopefully in the near future finally record an album that will sound like '...of the Fallen' actually should have sounded.

Reviewer's rating: Unrated


Tracklist :
1. Blood gathers Frost
2. If I could Exist
3. By Loves Will... chaos
4. Rennissance
5. Ghost
6. Thousand Spirits
7. Beautiful Black Heart
8. Still Warm Ashes

Duration : Approx. 40 minutes

Visit the Avernus bandpage.

Reviewed on ??-??-???? by Aldo Quispel
Hate Your Guts Records
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