AVKRVST lead us into dark and ominous waters with a dark concept.
Release Date: 16th June 2023
Label: Inside Out Music
Format: digital / CD / vinyl
The concept album is alive and kicking! Seven songs in 49 minutes take us on a journey into the thoughts of a man in isolation in a cabin deep in the woods. A bleak soul indeed, he struggles to come to terms with the idea of death and the abyss that lies beyond. No lightweight shenanigans from the minds of Martin Utby and Simon Bergseth who’ve grown up on a diet of Porcupine Tree, Neal Morse, King Crimson and Opeth and delivered on a childhood pact.
An album that contains everything that helps convey the moods from pastoral passages to aggressive and violent sharpness, several of which appear within the opening moments. The contrast between the gentle bounce and guitar lines in The Pale Moon and the “I know that the time has come for me to die” – “This is where all light comes to die” realisation in the softly delivered lyric is quite stark. Add a hint of an Akerfeldt/Opeth-inspired riff and death metal growl vocal and all seems to suddenly become ominous. A turn for the worst is taken…
Showing off their Prog Rock credentials with the chops on the instrumental part of Isolation, the drama builds into an intense and frenzied and sudden halt. The sort of passage that be a not too distant relative to some of the more metal-tinged progressors. However, the soundtrack is never too far from a friendlier face to counter the growling vocals and hanging chords and riffs of fear. The Great White River offers perfect balance while the aching solo and lush keyboard textures in Arcane Clouds suggest a dreamy acceptance of the inevitable.
Those hints of Opeth, Crimson and The Tree are certainly there but don’t unduly invade any of the AVKRVST territory. A tight instrumental opening to Anodynemkes way for an acoustic guitar/vocal second half. Not too far from what you’d find Messrs Wilson or Akerfeldt combining on, shifting from the nefarious to the wistful, as does the finale on the title track. Shifting from “nocturnal confuse” to “nocturnal bliss” a stately gravitas duels with electronic stabs, improvised sounds and a filthy and downright brutal riff. Developing into a furious and discordant battery and a fall into the dreaded abyss – “this is it…” – there’s a consolidatory triumph in the lengthy playout, nudging the track into the 13 minute mark, that brings ultimate satisfaction in the anthemic conclusion.
Here’s Arcane Clouds – “the anthem of forsaken hope.”