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Phavian - Meridian II CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.23 | 6 ratings

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Prog Metal and Heavy Prog Teams
3 stars As quirky as expected!

Meridian II is Phavian's second step in the 4-album series of their concept Meridian and the third studio album since their inception. Similar to their previous releases, this clocks around the 40-minute mark - it consists of six tracks, all quite different to each other but with one common mood: dark and quirky.

The compositions generally flow in a haunting atmosphere, driven by the lyrical concept, which is also depicted in the album's excellent cover artwork. From the first notes it is clear that this is not your typical prog metal album.

'Adam's Ale' is a beautiful folksy 3-minute track, totally driven by the voice of Elisabeth Matson with a remarkable acoustic guitar 'acompagnamento' that moves straight in 'Purl', with the listener almost not taking notice. There is a nice balance of acoustic guitars and low-tempo high-note electric guitars in the opening of this track, reminiscent of 90s atmospheric/experimental metal, with the vocals and an operatic background dominating the ambience. Midway through a more dynamic sequence of melodic riffs breaks the norm and continues to the closing of the track. 'Hexenring' kicks off quite unexpectedly, with an in-your-face untypical heavy riff and Elisabeth singing on high and obscure note sequences; galloping mid-tempo guitars and ever-changing themes comprise this rather unusual track, that seems to be have been born out of the quirkiness of To-Mera. This is by far the most 'difficult' track to digest, and this is aggravated by its relatively long duration.

The second half kicks off with a 4-minute piano 'interlude', deeply influenced by classical music (apparently part of the band's musical education); while not extravagant, it links quite nicely with 'Watersong', arguably the album's highlight. Having listened to it in their 2011 EP 'Foreword', I was positively surprised to find it here. Clean and distorted guitars playing on the minor scale remind heavily of Opeth's tactics but the vocals and the power metal riffing give this track both a more 'classical' and 'metallic' feeling respectively. The build up to the 5th's minute mid-tempo melodic refrain is worth the wait and the best that this album has to offer. Although not as impressive, the rest of the track keeps you on your toes with a variety of abstract vocal passages and avant-power metal riffs. The best description for 'Fall of Cruor' would be: an odd classical music track played with metal instruments. Here I could hear patterns that remind me of the masters of the style, Mekong Delta; however the female vocals again differentiate it from anything that you have listened to before, and although it does not leave me a feeling of satisfaction as the closing track, some of the elements of composition are simply stunning.

Meridian II is a weird combination of classical/avant-driven progressive metal with dark and brooding atmospheres. Female vocals are leading the game but sometimes it feels like they are over-done, mixed a notch higher than they should be or are just too quirky for the typical prog-metal fan. The production, though not weak overall, feels a bit thin especially on the drums. The ideas are there, there is a mix of melodic and harsher moments while one could argue that the long tracks extend just a bit more than they should have done.

If you like your prog-metal dark, quirky, weird and untypical, with female vocals not following the norm, then check this band. As this is only pt. 2 of the 4-part concept, I am personally expecting an even better release from Phavian in the future.

Many thanks go to Patrick from Phavian for making this album available for review!

aapatsos | 3/5 |


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