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Aviva (Aviva Omnibus) - Rokus Tonalis CD (album) cover

ROKUS TONALIS

Aviva (Aviva Omnibus)

 

Symphonic Prog

3.71 | 36 ratings

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ClemofNazareth
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk Researcher
3 stars This is largely an unknown project as far as I can tell, but it may be a promising positive addition to the future of progressive rock. Or not, it’s hard to tell really.

Aviva is pretty much the work of a solo artist, but one that is a little bit hard to classify. Russian Dimitri Loukianenko provides the arrangements, keyboards, and “other instruments”. But all the percussion and drums are programmed tracks; the other bass lines seem to be provided by the piano; there are no discernable horns or strings anywhere on the album; and the guitar work is done by an uncredited contributor. So I’m not sure exactly what “other instruments” refer to beyond Loukianenko’s various keyboard-driven contraptions.

The work is supposed to be based on a rendition of John’s Revelation of the Apocalypse, the final book in most Christian bibles. But the sequence of events and musical timbre of this album is about as related to John’s apocalypse as most ‘symphonic rock’ music is to a real symphony. I don’t mean that as a criticism, but more as an observation.

John’s version of the final cataclysm included four distinct ‘visions’, while Loukianenko seems to have structured his work into three sections following a lively prelude, and ending with a hymn and postlude that would probably fit into just about any properly orthodox religious service. The third ‘vision’ gets a bit muddled by the inclusion of the lengthy and rather odd “Underwater Sermon” which proves to be not only the longest track, but also the most puzzling and out-of-place one on the record. The vocodor- treated voices may have been intended to sound like they were being delivered underwater, though to what end I have no idea. They actually end up sounding like Alvin & the Chipmunks though, and really detract from an otherwise appropriately somber mood.

Before I go any further let me say that the piano throughout this album is gorgeous, passionate, and pretty much flawlessly delivered. So in that respect this is a fine work of musical art, and if I were only commenting on that instrument I would compare it to somewhat similar neo-Slavic bands like After Crying for the piano or Solaris for the deep- thinking approach to the album’s theme. And maybe also to Ayreon for the neo- approach rather than looking to do a more tradition type of project like say - Alan Parsons Project or even Green Carnation. So the music isn’t a problem here, with the minor exception of the oddly cartoon-like vocals, which only appear in a couple places and do not dominate the album at least.

But for a work that is claiming to be inspired by a vision of the apocalypse, I think this one falls very short. The one-dimensional ability of keyboards and synthesizers to deliver ranges of emotion and sonic variety make most of the middle tracks end up sounding just a bit schmaltzy, in my opinion. When John envisioned the signs of the last times and the destruction of that part of the world he was describing (the then-still Roman part of western Turkey, by the way), I need to hear and feel blood-chilling full- body shrieks of tortured pain, raw burning flesh, eyes melting in their sockets from the searing heat of a thousand hell-fires. I expect the nerve-wracking drone of warplanes thundering overhead, and the sickening, shattering thud of metal striking the earth, shattering bone and vaporizing flesh with dragon’s-tongue licks of fiery napalm death expunging the earth in its wake. I want bowel-clearing fear, my friends. And this stuff just doesn’t deliver.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those crazy end-of-the-world junkies. Hell, I hope we make things work for another million years or so. But from a purist standpoint this kind of record should have been able to project that kind of emotion inherent in the subject it was supposed to be based on. And it doesn’t do that. Also like I said, the overall sound is a bit one-dimensional since this is largely a solo work and much of the non-piano sounds are either digitally produced, or at least digitally altered.

So props for the piano work, which is very good. And also I have high hopes that this guy will continue to mature and develop, and that we may all be in for some big treats in the future. But overall I can’t say this is much more than good; certainly not essential by any means, so three stars is exactly the right place to rate it.

peace

ClemofNazareth | 3/5 |

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