Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Ahvak - Ahvak CD (album) cover

AHVAK

Ahvak

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

3.74 | 74 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Pafnutij
5 stars While you probably won't find Ahvak on most "best new prog bands" lists due to the very challenging and uncommercial (even by prog standards) nature of their music, they are certainly one of the most exciting bands to grace the RIO/prog scene in a long time. They may not introduce anything radically new to the genres with their self-titled debut, but they do raise the bar considerably for intelligent, high-quality progressive rock.

It's evident early into the disc that the band draws largely from modern classical styles of composition (Bartok, Boulez, etc.), but their music always features enough catchy melodic elements to draw you in and keep your attention, while regularly bombarding you with dissonance and atonality. As is usually the case with the RIO style, the band's compositions carry a dark, sinister character, at the same time being highly energetic. The album is almost entirely instrumental, with no prominent vocal sections except for a couple of verses in the title track. The band also frequently points towards their Israeli heritage by including exotic Middle Eastern percussion and sound effects , creating a desert-like atmosphere.

The keyboard instruments are generally the dominant force on the album, which isn't surprising considering the group boasts two conservatory-trained keybardists, Udi Susser and Roy Yarkoni, who are responsible for the majority of the compositions. Not that I'm underestimating the other band members: they all bring impressive contributions to the record, in particular the legendary Dave Kerman, who, aside from his powerful signature drumming, is credited with motivating Ahvak to create this outstanding record in the first place. Studio wizard Udi Koomran does a great job as well, delivering precise, immaculate production; accusations of a cold and sterile sound may hold some merit for those sensitive to that kind of technicalities, but to me, his work doesn't diminish the overall impact of the music in the slightest.

I did have my doubts about awarding the album a "masterpiece" rating though, as the music occasionally gets a bit dull in places. However, these shortcomings can be forgiven, taking into account the challenges involved in creating an album of such complexity, as well as the stellar quality of the rest of the material.

The album opens with "Vivisection", which is inconveniently it's weakest track - although "least strongest" is probably a better way to describe it: despite floundering a bit in the middle, it features more than enough impressive moments to get excited about. And by accustoming you to Ahvak's brand of prog, it prepares you for "Bherta", undoubtedly one of the album's highlights. Tons of excellent motifs are introduced as the track progresses, all of them as memorable as they are intriguing. The heavy, precise bass work is also highly effective, as are Yehuda Kollon's fantastic razor-sharp guitar lines.

Next comes "Regaim", a short, apparently serialist piece for piano and flute. Possibly influenced by Webern, it begins in a jagged, seemingly incoherent manner, but ends in a considerably melodic fashion. Though totally weird, the track nonetheless provides a highly interesting listen.

Things get a bit more conventional with the epic title cut, once again a strong piece of music. From the lonely drum strike in the beginning, the track develops into a collection of beautiful, intricate motifs flavored by underlying dissonance, before embarking on a series of fast scalar runs that could be considered it's main theme. While not exactly the album's creative peak, this section features quite a collection of outstanding moments, thanks largely to the intense, bombastic drum work. The track's length of over 16 minutes isn't really a problem either, as the quirky quieter moments that separate the harsh sonic attacks are well thought-out and quite effective.

"Melet" (Cement) is similar to "Regaim, but features a slightly jazzier approach and a wider palette of sounds and textures. Yet again, it's a highly interesting and enjoyable number (if you enjoy strange, complex compositions, that is).

"Hamef Ahakim", or "Yawners", gets down to business fast: after a short diluted piano intro, it introduces a lovely (but still complex) melody which would recur throughout the track as it's main theme. There are plenty of other outstanding moments as well, though it's pointless to describe them here - it'll suffice to say that this is another of the album's highlights.

Finally, we have "Pirzool" (or "Ironworks"), a collection of strange noises and threatening growls of unknown origin. Though I don't really find it suitable as ending to this marvelous album, it doesn't do any particular damage.

I'n conclusion, I'd like to point out that "Ahvak" will most probably take a long time to swallow, being one of the most difficult examples of recent RIO, and thus isn't exactly recommended as a starting point for this sort of music (although you should check it out anyway ;). It's also one of the most accomplished, however, and with each listen you'll discover something new and exciting, be it a keyboard motif, an interesting noise or a guitar riff.

The boys will certainly have a hard time topping this one.

4.5

Pafnutij | 5/5 |

MEMBERS LOGIN ZONE

As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Share this AHVAK review

Social review comments () BETA







Review related links

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: JazzMusicArchives.com — jazz music reviews and archives | MetalMusicArchives.com — metal music reviews and archives