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AVIATIONS

Progressive Metal • United States


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Aviations biography
AVIATIONS began in 2011 as a project of James KNOERL (drums) and Sam HARCHIK (guitar). They were joined by vocalist Adam BENJAMIN in Berklee College of music. They released in 2012 their first album "A Declaration of Sound". In 2014, the band became more active live. After a hiatus, a few more member change and the return of Adam, the band continues to work on their next release that was released in January 2018: "The Light Years". The music is Progressive Metal with a djent influence similar to bands like PERIPHERY and TESSERACT.

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AVIATIONS discography


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AVIATIONS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.08 | 4 ratings
A Declaration of Sound
2012
4.00 | 7 ratings
The Light Years
2018
4.29 | 35 ratings
Luminaria
2023

AVIATIONS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AVIATIONS Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

AVIATIONS Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

AVIATIONS Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.30 | 5 ratings
Retrospect
2020
4.00 | 1 ratings
Safehouse
2023
4.00 | 1 ratings
Legend
2023
4.00 | 1 ratings
Coma
2023
5.00 | 1 ratings
Pure
2023
4.00 | 1 ratings
Safehouse (Lofi)
2023

AVIATIONS Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Luminaria by AVIATIONS album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.29 | 35 ratings

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Luminaria
Aviations Progressive Metal

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars From Boston, Massachusetts, this Prog Metal band burst onto the scene straight out of Berklee College of Music over a decade ago. After two solid albums in the 2010s, they were stalled by the Pandemic but have slowly been working on the group of songs that we now find on this 2023 release.

1. "Prelude" (3:10) gorgeous New Age keys open this one before acoustic guitars and hummed choir vocalize a melody and chords to match the guitars. At 2:27 delicate, heavily-effected voice sings a single line before the band bursts into a spaciously spaced series of pounding chords to close. Powerful opener. (9.5/10)

2. "Cradle" (7:25) symphonic yet metallic and very HAKEN- and NATIVE CONSTRUCT-like music supports Adam Benjamin's vocals. The total sound palette reminds me of KARNIVOOL and THE CONTORTIONIST. The melodic and rhythmic paths explored here are so fresh and unpredictable that I find myself quite engaged--even mesmerized. Impressive and practically flawless. A top three song, to be sure. (14.5/15)

3. "Safehouse" (5:00) Great KANSAS-like vocals with very sophisticated syncopated instrumental constructs seemlessly sewn together, I am here reminded of the Australian band STARE AT THE CLOUDS as much as THE CONTORTIONIST. I live the microtonal guitar work, djenty low end, perfectly synchronized drums and surprise high-speed piano. Another top three song. (9.5/10)

4. "Legend" (6:02) more djenty low end with off-tempo drum hits and muted/background guitar and piano arpeggi support some growl and Freddie-Mercury-like vocal acrobatics. The full-on sprint at the end of the second minute is interesting--I'm finding myself feeling more in the territory of bands like UNEXPECT and old OPETH. Then there's the weird crazy Franz LISZT piano solo over some of the heaviest grunge in the fifth minute before the return to QUEEN- like heavy prog and then technically extreme djent. I get the innovation here but it is not exactly easy on the ears. Wow! What a wild, weird ride! (9/10)

5. "La Jolla" (5:04) despite the heavy low-end djent chords, this song presents as a more melodic, LINKIN PARK-like: the gentler, more melodic side of what I call atmospheric prog. At 3:52 the song even goes acoustic guitar like a Ed Sheeran pop song! But then the djent chords pop back and we're served notice: this we are the POISON of the 21st Century! Interesting but not my favorite. (8.66667/10)

6. "Pinenut" (5:47) the fleeting guitar and vocal opening to this make me think immediately of some of the modern Country Rock or 21st Century Southern Rock coming out of America--like a 21st Century version of the MARSHALL TUCKER BAND or a pop-oriented DIXIE DREGS (note GHOST MEDICINE, Imagine Dragons, et al.) For my ears, it runs a little long and its disjointed, staccato metal rhythms make my brain hurt a bit. And the saccharine solo piano at the end does not save it. (8.666667/10)

7. "Pure" (7:08) opens with an interesting (and, I have to admit, gorgeous) multi-chord multi-guitar weave before "settling" into a flowing, if-broken rhythm patterned motif over which Adam sings in a surprisingly gentle, airy voice. That base-line weave is actually quite pretty--lilting and wave-like, almost making me want to drift off to sleep--not unlike LEPROUS or KARNIVOOL at their most tranquilizing. Nice song. They show a restraint and aspect of their composition and performance skills heretofore unrealized in a vocal form (yet reminiscent of the album's opener). (13.5/15)

8. "Where We've Been" (3:59) a beautiful instrumental journey started off by HAROLD BUDD-like treated piano with computer glitch scratches and gorgeous if-embryonic piano- and guitar-led melodies. As the song progresses it begins to express in the rhythmic and sonic ranges more common to 21st Century progressive metal (and experimental/post metal). As it builds and builds, it never loses its focus, never loses my interest or enjoyment. Great song. (9.5/10)

9. "Coma" (10:45) more piano to open, this time more reminiscent of pseudo jazz artist GEORGE WINSTON. The chord play becomes more dark and dissonant just before the metal instruments join in (machine gun bass drum play, djenty bass and guitar chords). The construction of these chord sequences is amazing--I wish I could see "the charts". I'd also love a tutorial on the musical theory informing the modern metal musician. Anybody have any good resources? I like the gentler variation of the main theme as explored in the jazzy piano-led section from 5:30 to 6:30. The percussion- led motif that follows is nice--quite a bit like Australian band STARE AT THE CLOUDS' 2016 masterpiece, This Clear Divide. It's a bit surprising to have a fairly "normal" rock/metal guitar solo in the ninth minute--even while the djenty music continues. At the nine-minute mark the band slows down, resting before launching into a frenetic finish (symphonic, even!). Nice construct. (17.75/20)

10. "Blink" (9:23) yet another piano opening! Fast arpeggi are soon joined by chunky djent-bass and etheric reverb- vocals and then the staccato bass, drum, and guitar-keyboard interplay begins--all beneath, of course, the vocal threads that try to hold it all together. I love the muted piano and guitar note-play at the end of the third minute that forms the skeletal structure of the next section. In the fifth minute the vocal and drum lines start to feel a bit stale, but then a shift into a higher gear of djenty and technically demanding instrumental play get me on my feet again. Cool "metal dream sequence" in the sixth minute! This is followed by TOOL-like section containing a little more angst and anger in the vocals (and music), but things go a bit symphonic again at the end of the seventh minute before the music settles into a mesmerizing djent groove for the next 45 seconds. (Man! They could play this motif all day and I'd be happy!) Things seem to come to a close at the end of the eighth minute but then, no! It's not over: the music resuscitates itself, albeit on a slightly slower, more laid-back way--right up to its surprising solo piano finish. Wow! What did I just hear! I need to hear it again! (18.125/20)

Total Time 63:43

One thing the Gen Z musicians have going for them is very little allegiance to diatonic scales or long, drawn out motifs: they are unafraid to go melodically where no one loyal to Newtonian physics and pre-20th Century Western musical traditions would think of going and they have no qualms about exploring a motif or theme for a measure, a 20-second burst, or less, without second thought about ever returning or "recapitulating" said theme again. These are, I think admirable talents, but I really appreciate it when musicians can (and do) bridge the gap between the modern short- term attention span and the longer 19th and 20th Century spans (which are, respectively, two-to-three minutes and 30-to-60 seconds in length [the length of a typical radio and/or television commercial]). Otherwise, trying to engage and accommodate the chaotic sound "bites" bombarding our central nervous systems makes it more challenging for brains that were hard-wired in the 20th Century like mine. (In defense of my aversion [or maladaptability] to the sound-bite frame of temporal reference: I only entered the world of the Internet in 2007, I have yet to own a "smart phone," and have given up on all social media platforms other than email. As a matter of fact, just to assuage my over- stimulated CNS, I have been soothing my soul by listening to mediŠval and Renaissance music with increasing regularity for several weeks now [and almost exclusively for the past three days]). So, while I appreciate the technical and cerebral plasticity displayed through Aviations' music on this album, it will probably never become music that I "like"--that I return to or which works its way into my list of all-time favorite albums. And yet I can recognize the talent and skill on display--and, therefore, recommend it whole-heartedly to my less-concretize-brained peers on ProgArchives and other music sites.

I, in no way, mean to denigrate the musical compositions or extraordinary performances throughout this album: it's all just so dynamic--almost overwhelmingly so: I will compare it to hearing "Gates of Delirium" or "Discipline" or Univers Zero and Yugen for the first times: my nervous system is in a little bit of shock. With each successive listen I have found myself sinking into, enjoying, even grooving--to these songs. It is my opinion that this album represents truly quite an a remarkable achievement in progressive rock music. In fact, I offer mega kudos to each and every musician associated with this project: you pulled off something truly amazing!

Another plus for this album is its wonderful/beautiful artwork--so perfectly rendered for this Autumn delivery!

A-/five stars; a minor masterpiece of 21st Century progressive rock music of the form founded within the latest metal trends. HIGHLY redcommended to all and any individual who professes themselves to be a lover of progressive rock music.

 A Declaration of Sound by AVIATIONS album cover Studio Album, 2012
4.08 | 4 ratings

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A Declaration of Sound
Aviations Progressive Metal

Review by ZekeHD

4 stars A Declaration of Sound is Aviations' first foray into the prog metal scene. This album is sparse on harsh vocals, but the vocals nevertheless mesh with the other instruments effortlessly and fill the particular niche of "cozy metal" very nicely where many other bands don't.

Although this is their first album, you really can't tell it. The album and the songs within are very nicely put together, with consistent structure and rhythm. Adam's vocals punch clearly through the mix in a really satisfying way, but make way for the other instruments when it's time for those to shine. You can tell the mix is very intentional in where each element sits sonically and in terms of loudness - and although it doesn't sound professionally mastered or overly produced, it was composed and mixed very nicely and fits the niche it filled at the time of release.

The standouts from the album, to me, are "I. Voyages", "II. Arrival", "III. Raised Expectations", and of course, "Outliers". The former three are meant to be listened to in sequence and obviously meant to tell a tale, and the way they flow into one another is effortless in portraying that.

"Outliers" is by far Aviations' most popular song. It flows from a soft, swaying opening into djenty verses, to flowy bridges. It doesn't really have a chorus, but it doesn't need any. It's one of those songs that you can listen to for years and not get bored of it. "Outliers" was remastered in Aviations' 2020 "Retrospect" album and serves as a facelift for the already existing masterpiece with updated composition and mastering to more closely match the band's present evolution.

A Declaration of Sound is Aviations' first step on their evolution as a band, and it'll always have a special place in my heart.

 Luminaria by AVIATIONS album cover Studio Album, 2023
4.29 | 35 ratings

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Luminaria
Aviations Progressive Metal

Review by kongu12395

5 stars Put simply, one of the best albums I've ever heard in my life. Mix is great, the songs are varied but cohesive, and the playing is immaculate. I'll take it track by track: Prelude/Cradle is a great opener, the first is really just an intro for the latter and it does a great job of setting the tone before we dive headfirst into the instrumental madness of Cradle. Strong lyrical performance on top of the trademark "cozy metal" that AVIATIONS is known for. Nothing "new" for them really but a solid track that has earned several plays from me in the few days since release. Safehouse is probably my favorite song this year. It's an incredibly fun track that sounds like the most nutty pop punk song ever and also has a breakdown that pushes toward extreme metal before fading back to accessibility. Consistently fresh for sure. Legend is a bit of a hard sell for people who don't like metal screams, but this track does a pretty good job of not relying on insane extreme metal moments the whole length. There's even a great bluesy guitar solo and intense... piano solo? These guys are perhaps the best at working piano into their metal music. La Jolla and Pinenut, while good and fun tracks in their own right, do not immediately jump out to the listener as being too far removed from the AVIATIONS canon of sounds. Even after a half dozen plays each, the most I can say is that these are pleasant tracks that aren't the most memorable. That may change with time though! Pure is a masterpiece of a track that sounds like Clairvoyant-era THE CONTORTIONIST and has just as much emotional weight as that album. Beautiful soundscape and slow build up. Adam's voice steals the show on this track especially. Where We've Been is a great interlude between the emotional ballad Pure and the full scale prog epic Coma. Incorporates some minor electronic elements and motifs from other tracks on the album and also is reminiscent of Lullaby from their previous full length album The Light Years. Coma is quite the ride of a song, blitzing by with speed and precision and more piano features. Adam does a few more screams on this song but it's temporary if that's not your thing - only about 10 seconds of this 10 minute song. Blink is the sleeper track on the album and a great closer - it is somehow the most musically sporadic yet catchiest track of all. The math rock riffing is in full force as arpeggios fly from the guitars and piano, all backed up by some extremely tight drumming. But it's the vocal hooks that have stuck with me the most and lured me back to this song in particular. The final line quotes the Prelude, bookending the album very nicely and lending more credence to the experience of listening all the way through. When I found out that they were dropping 5 singles prior to release, I was worried that I would either grow weary of them or would be unsurprised when the album finally came out. Glad to say that neither happened and I think this deserves to be a contender for Album of the Year, not just for metal or prog but for music in general. Anyone who appreciates the marriage of technicality and enjoyable songwriting should enjoy this album (with the only exceptions being Legend and the screams on Coma perhaps).
 Retrospect by AVIATIONS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.30 | 5 ratings

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Retrospect
Aviations Progressive Metal

Review by kongu12395

5 stars First of all, this is my first review on Progarchives, seeing as I am (relatively) very new to all of this. However, upon seeing on of my favorite discoveries of 2020 sitting at a meager 3 ratings, I thought it best to contribute to this discussion in a verbal manner.

This EP consists of rerecordings of three songs from the two full length AVIATIONS albums, the first two originating from their debut and the third from their latest full-length release to date. The production on the debut was quite muddy, an issue that these versions do not suffer from. Two Days did not need such an update, but this version is a drastically different take on that song so it's worthy of its place.

Nineties Nine Ties begins with one of the most rhythmically confusing riffs I've ever heard, grooving yet not following any sort of obvious pattern. To my ear this band is like a punkier TESSERACT with some added piano, and I love it. Great track, however it does not stick in my head. Somehow, this works for this song, it's like I get to reexperience it with every listen.

Outliers is the perfect Prog Metal song in my not-so-humble opinion. The original version is slightly different, particularly at the end where a spoken word sample has now been excluded. This version blew my mind when I first heard it and it is without a doubt a journey.

Two Days is a really nice song and this is a fantastic version. It works well in this laid back acoustic version. I wouldn't have guessed it was live if I hadn't seen the tracklist posted here.

The instrumental versions aren't necessary but they fill out the runtime if nothing else. If nothing else, listen to the song Outliers. This work earns 5 out of 5 stars for that song alone. For such a small group, their music is well written, very well produced, and accessible to fans of DREAM THEATER or similar bands. They have described themselves as "cozy metal," and I find that description quite apt.

 Retrospect by AVIATIONS album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2020
4.30 | 5 ratings

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Retrospect
Aviations Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Reviewer

4 stars Aviations is a Boston-based progressive metal band, formed in 2011 when drummer James Knoerl and guitarist Sam Harchik were attending Berklee College of Music. Singer Adam Benjamin joined soon afterwards, and alongside some guest musicians they released their debut album, 'A Declaration of Sound' in 2012. It took until 2018 for their next album to be released, 'The Light Years', during which time the trio had expanded to a sextet. The band have continued to go through some line-up changes since then, and apart from the original trio only pianist Richard Blumenthal is still there from that album, and they have now been joined by Eric Palmer (guitar) and Werner Erkelens (bass).

As one may guess from the title of the EP, what we have here are some reworked versions of old songs, so we have newly recorded takes on "Outliers" and "Nineties Nine Ties" from the debut, plus instrumental versions of both, and a live acoustic performance of "Two Days" which appeared on the second album. As one would expect from anyone who has been at Berklee, the musicianship is out of this world, and I am somewhat surprised that at the time of writing that here is not a single review of any of their material on ProgArchives, which shows just how hard it is to get people to hear new music. There are times when they are more Meshuggah than Dream Theater, others where they are less bombastic and far gentler, and there is no doubt that "Outliers" itself is a real tour de force with nearly 12 minutes of switching between styles and providing loads of light and shade. When these guys decided to shred, they really go for it, mixing in djent, yet they can also be soft and quiet with Adam just having a piano to sing against. The acoustic number is also interesting in that it shows a very different side to the band, but also one where they seem very much at home. Apparently, they are supposed to be releasing a new album at some point this year, and that is something I will definitely be keeping an eye out for as this is polished, exciting, and just so damn enjoyable. For any fans of prog metal.

Thanks to rdtprog for the artist addition. and to projeKct for the last updates

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