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Phavian Meridian I album cover
3.22 | 7 ratings | 5 reviews | 14% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Slate (5:28)
2. Cobalt and Crimson (8:14)
3. Stil de Grain (5:12)
4. Tyrian (10:01)
5. Feldgrau (5:36)
6. Obsidian (2:58)

Total Time 37:29

Line-up / Musicians

- Elizabeth Matson / Vocals & Keys
- Puyan Hassani / Guitars
- Jason Lobell / Bass
- Patrick Hassani / Drums & Keys

Releases information

Independent CD October 31, 2011

Produced by Phavian
Engineered by Charlie Park and Nicholas Zagorin
Mixed by Assen Stoyanov
Mastered by Fergal Davis at Summit Studios, Dublin

Artwork by Matthew Hill

Thanks to aapatsos for the addition
and to andyman1125 for the last updates
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PHAVIAN Meridian I ratings distribution

(7 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(14%)
Good, but non-essential (57%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (14%)

PHAVIAN Meridian I reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars The color spectrum seems a bit dim today

Phavian is a relatively new progressive metal band who despite having already released a studio album seem to be relatively unknown in the scene. The band's style owes more to the sounds of Opeth, Riverside, and Devin Townsend than more typical prog metal giants like Dream Theater and Symphony X, which already gives the band points in the creative department. Combining more experimental forms of the genre with a more laid back attitude towards musicianship, technicality, and compositions, the band makes a unique form of progressive metal that shines nicely on their second studio album, Meridian I, the first part of a planner four-part concept album. Although the album is not perfect, it is a very good representation of the band's style and what is to come on the following three albums.

Sadly, in general, my list of gripes seems to outnumber my list of likes for this album. While the band has been successful in creating a well-collected album for a good listen, there are a few things that sit well with me. In the overall scheme of things, I feel like much of the compositions need development. Most notably, the opener, "Slate," seems to be solely comprised of underdeveloped riffs and awkward timings. While much of the album contains much better music, this opening track really brings down an album that had a lot of potential. Another downside to the album was the mix, which often seemed to bring the quality of the music down by a slight amount. I often found the guitars taking the back seat in the mix and I think a bit more balance in mixing might make the songs shine more. While having the guitars not overpower the other tracks is of course important, I feel that on this album the guitars begin to disappear at some points.

Positively, the album still retains itself as the front for this band's creative output. The dynamic of female vocals adds a wonderful and unusual flair that gives the album nice character. Away from the less-than-admirable opener, the remaining five songs on the 37- minute album hold their own as great progressive metal tracks. Songs like "Stil de Grain" and "Feldgrau" are especially memorable in their creative voicing and nicely compiled composition. While the songs are not overly complex, they display a consistent quality that is admirable.

In the end, I have mixed feelings about this album. There are two spectrums that appear on this album: the more amateur and underdeveloped compositions and the creative and memorable compositions. While it would be nice for the latter to be more prevalent than the former, the two seem to rather strike a delicate balance. While this is not a bad thing, it leads the album to the sector of more mediocre music than outstanding. Overall the album is a very good representation of the band's spirit, but I would enjoy hearing more compositional development and in some places some more carefully mixed tracks on the next albums. Still, however, I look forward to where the band will go next musically on the next three parts to this epic saga. 3 stars.

Review by VanVanVan
3 stars I actually bought this band's first album "Kiena" some time ago, listened to it a few times and then pretty much forgot about it. When I happened to see that they had released a new album, I basically decided to buy it on a whim.

The album's opener, "Slate," sets a high bar for the rest of the album. It's an instrumental track, with a nice up-tempo feel that actually reminds me a little bit of a darker, harder edged Scale the Summit. It's a great opener and a great track overall.

Sadly, this excellence is not, in my opinion, continued. "Cobalt and Crimson" is an 8-minute track, and while a lot of longer songs don't have enough ideas to fill their duration, "Cobalt and Crimson" actually has too many. Motifs begin and end rapidly, with little development and not enough flow between them. We also get our first taste of the vocals here, which I personally find to be one of the weaknesses of the band. The female vocalist here has an excellent voice, but I simply don't find Phavian's vocal melodies very interesting. Worst of all is the ending. Normally I think fade-outs are a fine way to end a song, but due to the rapid jumping about in this song it sort of just seems like the song gives up and goes away with no real sense of resolution.

Happily, "Stil de Grain" sets the album again on an upwards trend. It's a much more post- metal sounding song, and because of that the slightly aimless vocal melodies work here. It's nothing terribly special but it's an enjoyable song.

The other long song of the album, "Tyrian" thankfully does not fall into the same problems as "Cobalt and Crimson." There are a lot of themes thrown in again, but they're given more room to develop and the flow between each of them is much, much better. Add to that a pretty solid guitar solo towards the end of the track and you've got proof that Phavian can certainly hold their own on longer tracks. Just makes me wish that "Cobalt and Crimson" had been a little better put-together.

"Feldgrau" is another strange one. It begins with another post-metal sounding section, similar to "Stil de Grain," but after a few minutes abruptly changes into a more uptempo part which closes out the song. Both of these parts are good, but they feel like different songs and I kind of wish they had been arranged so and developed a little more instead of combined in the way that they are.

"Obsidian" closes out the album with a nice little piano post-lude. It's a pretty track, but it seems a little out of place and I think it would have served its purpose much better had the rest of the album been more cohesive.

On the whole, I have the same problems with this album that I had with Kiena: I simply don't find it very interesting. The style just seems a little bit "thin," to me, as I find this kind of dark, slightly avant-sounding prog metal to be rather emotionless and cold, and without really spectacular songwriting a lack of emotion just makes these songs seem uninteresting. Add to this the (in my opinion) poor vocal melodies and even the short 37 minute duration feels a little long. Certainly not bad from a musical standpoint, and "Stil de Grain" and "Tyrian" are quite good, but I feel like this band still has a ways to go.


Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars After having experienced their 'Foreword' EP, I am happy to own a copy of Phavian's second studio album entitled 'Meridian I', because it is an interesting approach to the band's sound, with a great experimentation in the progressive metal scene. Here, you will not find super fast rhythms or keyboard solos, you will find well-crafted compositions with a sound in moments closer to post-metal, and in others thanks to the female singer, a soft-melodic metal sound.

The album comprises six compositions that make a total time of 37 minutes. It kicks off with 'Slate' which is a five-minute instrumental track that introduces us to Phavian's sound. Though the rhythm does not really change, we can notice that it does progresses thanks to the different figures on the guitar, and the dynamism of the musicians in their respective instruments, you can better appreciate this with good headphones.

'Cobalt and Crimson' starts with a kind of dark atmosphere which is complemented /and maybe contrasted) by the entrance of the vocals. The guitar sound is very repetitive in the beginning, the rhythm a bit slow; later it makes a change, drums and guitars put a more effusive tone and the female voice makes a warm and mellow sound, worth mentioning that in some moments there is also a male voice. After three minutes the same repetitive sound as in the beginning returns for some seconds, but only to change once again. This is one of the pros of the song, it has several changes in time and mood, which let us know about the band's compositional skills. A remarkable moment is at minute five when there is a soft and beautiful theme which fades out in order to open the gates to the heaviest face of the band. 'Still the Grain' is one of the highlights of the album, with a dark atmosphere, excellent drums and a wonderful melody. Here I like a lot the piano and keyboards as background, while guitars crete that metal-oriented sound. In moments, this track reminds me to some Opeth passages, I don't know if they are an influence, but Phavian's sound in this song is particularly good. I would say this is my favorite track of the album, thanks to its complexity and that great first-instrumental part, which is complemented by female vocals after some minutes.

'Tyrian' is the longest song here, with ten minutes length. This track has also several inner changes, in time and mood, however they are perfectly exploded and conducted, so the song really flows and produces a quality result. Though the sound of the band is of course oriented to the metal, this female voice brings a mellow and soft sound that makes the music slow down its revolutions and produce a not-that-obvious metal product, hope I could express myself. So having a female vocalist here may be an advantage or disadvantage, depending on the listener's experience, I particularly like it. Returning to the song, there are very cool moments with excellent drums and some short guitar riffs. Overall this is also a great composition.

'Feldgrau' has a nice and dynamic rhythm that will easily make you enjoy it; the voice appears since the very first moments, the guitar is omniscient, the bass drop some good lines and the drums always (in the whole album, actually) have a potentially good sound. This track is also featured in their 'Foreword' EP, which by the way, gathers four songs from a four-CD concept that Phavian has created, and will develop in the next year. 'Meridian I' is the first part of that concept, the others will be revealed every six months each. This is something really ambitious, kudos for the band.

And the album finishes with its shortest track. 'Obsidian' is an instrumental three-minute song which shares the softest side of Phavian. This is a piano-based composition with a dark and gothic sound, pretty different from the previous tracks, and with a melancholic and sad sound that marks the epilogue of the album.

Good job, Phavian are a talented and tasty US band, however, I am sure they have still a lot to offer, so I will be waiting for their next works. My grade for this album will be 3 (and a half) stars.

Enjoy it!

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Meridian I' - Phavian (7/10)

As I learned from this band's EP 'Foreword', Phavian are planning on a major four album concept piece. Considering that this band is still fairly new to the scene and listeners' ears, this is quite a bold statement, and even moreso to have released songs on that EP that are supposedly from albums that will tentatively be released a year or more away. The only question now is: can Phavian live up to their promises? 'Meridian I' is the first of this four part series, and the second album altogether to be released by the American group. Playing a style of melodic metal clearly influenced by Opeth, Phavian demonstrated some strong potential on 'Foreword', and the first album in the series continues to impress me.

Phavian's sound is still rough around the edges, but they manage to evade many stereotypes of progressive metal. The darkly melodies sounds of latter-era Katatonia come to mind here, although the female vocals of Elizabeth Matson seem to gear Phavian to an almost symphonic metal sound. As far as the influence of Opeth goes, it comes out most evidently in the guitar work. The climax 'Feldgrau' (which I first heard as a sample on 'Foreword') has a guitar sound and central riff that sounds like it could have been right out of Mikael Akerfeldt's songbook. The guitar solos throughout the album- particularly the one on the fourth track 'Tyrian'- are also very Opeth-like. Many of the riffs are quite beautiful, taking a lot of sound from doom metal. The only thing that seems to be keeping Phavian's melodies from leaping out of the speakers is the fact that the production is a little dull. The songwriting and musicianship is here, but the production and mixing sees the vocal work dominate over all other instruments. 'Meridian I' has many moments that would have blown me away, had I been able to hear them the way I think they would have been best mixed. Fear not, however; Phavian's composition is enough to keep a listener invested throughout.

Elizabeth Matson's vocals are not technically wild like many female metal vocalists' are, but she has a quasi operatic tone to her voice that compliments the music. Although hearing female vocals mixed with Opethian instrumentation is a somewhat recent trend to my ears, there are bands out there doing the same match-up; Effloresce comes to mind. At this point, 'Meridian I' is not enough to see if Phavian stands out from the rest, but it's enough for me to be impressed, and recommend them to any fan of dark metal.

Latest members reviews

3 stars The Los Angeles, California based Avant-Garde Progressive metal band Phavian released their debut in 2009, followed by the previously reviewed "Foreword" EP in 2011, now these musical wizards return with their sophomore full-length album "Meridian I". For a prog release the album last only 37- ... (read more)

Report this review (#1064313) | Posted by FemmeMetalWebzine | Monday, October 21, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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