Ava Inferi: Onyx

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Ava Inferi: Onyx
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Ava Inferi: Onyx
Doom Metal, Gothic Metal
Season of Mist Records
February 22nd, 2011
Release length: 50:33
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Ava Inferi is a Doom/Gothic Metal act that formed back in 2005 in Almada, Portugal. The group signed with Season of Mist back in 2006, and has put out three full-length so far under that label, making Onyx the fourth for the label, as well as the band. While the material is solid and seems to push the Doom Metal aspect of their style moreso then the Gothic, the group is relatively unknown in the States. Even their most recent venture, Blood of Bacchus was not met with the greatest of criticism, though the group’s first two albums won high accolades among fans of the music and critics alike. So, the real question here becomes whether Onyx is strong enough to put the band back in the spotlight and find more attention they do deserve, or whether this album will be another critically put down album.

For those who don’t know, Ava Inferi was formed by Rune Eriksen, former member of Mayhem among other acts. The material presented on this release is a far distance from anything he ever composed for Mayhem, as the material here goes at a very slow pace for the typical Doom Metal compositions, but tries to retain an artistic and melancholic feel with Gothic tendencies, but tackled in a more operatic approach like the band’s last effort. And, for what the album is, it’s enjoyable, though nothing really new or groundbreaking, mostly just coming off as your traditional, run-of-the-mill Doom/Gothic band with a female vocalist, except this one actually has a voice that genuinely fits the style, unlike the many female vocal acts in the Gothic style.

The only real downer about Onyx is it’s stylish feeling. Some of the tracks, like the title track “Onyx”, just have this really burdening, melancholic sound to them that clearly plays into the whole Doom style of music, but with a Gothic twist of harmonies at times. These songs take on a sort of Novembers Doom feel, but without the Death Metal aspect, combined with a somber female vocal approach that works for the slower music. However, some songs, such as “Majesty”, seem to lose that atmosphere in favor of sounding a little more melodic with a stylish production quality one would expect off a Symphonic album by a band like Dimmu Borgir. Sadly, these more stylish tracks often lose that melancholic feeling to them, resulting in a song that sounds modern but losing it’s bite and just comes off more generic. “The Heathen Island” also loses that kind of atmosphere, and honestly sounds more like an Alternative Rock song at times with more operatic female vocals. The song itself feels a little drawn out, and features some audio samples near the end that really just feel tacked on more then anything.

Other then that, the release is just well done. There’s nothing that genuinely leaps out at the listener other then well composed and performed music, and given the man behind the guitar, it should come as no surprise. The band’s slower pace sounds perfect for this combination, but again it just follows the same kind of performance staples the style typically has. When the music picks up or just becomes generally heavier, it feels like there’s a good amount of energy behind it too, which is something many of the songs seem to slightly lack, but you can tell that there was a lot of time put into making these tracks very catchy and sound somewhat unique to the band. “By Candlelight & Mirrors” has nothing too special going for it, but the music sporadically picks up here and there, and it sounds really energetic and well done, and the slower parts just feel well done, flowing naturally and often find the music pushed by the bass with a nice little groove to it that makes the song more catchy then it should. The vocals wind up being the only thing holding the song back, as they feel more laid back then they should be at times.

Onyx winds up being a well done album that often feels like it’s trying to be too many things at once. The vocals give it an operatic feel, some songs feel melancholic and clearly have some Norwegiant Black Metal melancholid atmosphere still in them thanks to the composer, then some tracks sound very stylish and leave that melancholy behind, others have a slight groove or catchiness to them while others are slow and dismal without as strong a hook, all while trying to be dark and artistic. Chances are good many will come back to this album once in a while, as the material here is far from bad, but just often feels lost in translation, as well as isn’t anything new or breathtaking. If you haven’t experience Ava Inferi yet, there’s better material available, but this release is an alright album to check out, though nothing you need to rush out and buy.

01. Onyx – 4:45
02. The Living End – 6:49
03. A Portal – 4:56
04. ((Ghostlights)) – 6:57
05. Majesty – 5:56
06. The Heathen island – 9:19
07. By Candlelight & Mirrors – 5:48
08. Venice (in Fog) – 5:59
Overall Score: 7/10

Digital review copy of this release provided by Records.