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Friday 6 December 2013

Reviews: Ayreon, Avatarium, Kadavar

Ayreon: The Theory Of Everything (InsideOut)

Arjen Lucassen has returned to the project that was his first massive project. After 8 albums the project spiralled out of control getting more and more elaborate, bringing more musicians on his albums than any other project. He took a break from Ayreon and moved into other areas of music but now he has returned to it. Gone is the story of the Universal Migrator, The Theory Of Everything starts another storyline set in the modern era, rather than the previous albums sci-fi concepts. The album is made up of 42 separate tracks (Hitchhikers Guide...keep up at the back) split into 4 sections. This album also moves away from the previous albums as having few guests. The story follows a genius savant trying to find the theory of everything and the trials and tribulations he goes through, ranging from drug trials, to completion to death. The parts are all played by different singer with the two standouts being Kamelot/Seventh Wonder singer Tommy Karevik who plays the savant, and Nightwish's Marco Hietala as his rival. Other voices lent to the project are Michael Mills and Christina Scabbia as the boy’s parents, Grand Magus' JB as his teacher and Asia's John Wetton as the psychiatrist. So while the vocalists have decreased the guest musicians are ramped up in terms of legendary status, Lucassen plays all of the guitars and most of the keys (drums are handled by Gorefest's Ed Warby) Lucassen is aided by a plethora of classical instruments, but it’s in the keys section where the stars really shine, Jordan Rudress (Dream Theater), Keith Emerson (ELP) and the wizard himself Rick Wakeman all contribute solo's to the album and on the guitar front the only (and I use the term only loosely) is Steve Hackett. So to the album, it is hard to pick out a favourite song as this album is meant to be taken as a whole, but it moves and shifts through various phases each one sounding like an amalgamation of amazing progressive rock bands with huge keys and flowing guitar passages. The Theory Of Everything is meant to be taken as a whole and when it is it is simply stunning and brilliantly majestic. Yet another flawless entry into Arjen's magnum opus. 10/10           

Avatarium: S/T (Nuclear Blast)

Doom big heaping slabs of doom, something Leif Edling knows a lot about having been the bassist/lead writer of doom legends Candlemass. This is his new band, the songs were written with fellow Swede Mikael Akerfeldt in mind as vocalist but as he is phenomenally busy with his own band plans had to be changed somewhat. For the better well we'll see, the rest of the band are made up of Evergrey guitarist Marcus Jindell, drummer Lars Skold (Tiamat) and keyboardist Carl Westholm. The riffs are heavy slabs of heaving doom from the opening planet crushing chords of the 8 minute Moonhouse which turns into an acoustically led track in the verses, this change is straight out of the Akerfeldt playbook and it shows the startling nature of this new band which is fronted by the smoky jazz inflected voice of front woman Jennie Ann-Smith who is this bands key she has the perfect style for this misanthropic malaise. Pandora's Egg has more doom riffage and occult/mystical imagery than you can shake a stick at, this moves into the heavy as a led opening of the bands title track which has the creepy, haunting organ. This is an album of 7 massive doom tracks that will please Leif's hardcore following as well as welcome new fans. It strikes the right balance between being fresh and new as well as having that nod to things past. A great album for those who like their doom at its darkest. 8/10 

Kadavar: Abra Kadavar (Nuclear Blast)

Kadavar play 70's inspired rock and hail from Germany. Abra Kadavar is their second album and it follows on from their debut. Yes they can be seen as doom but they are so much more vocally they sound like JD from The Sword, and their weird beard persona and jangling psychedelic delivery brings to mind Hawkwind see the pulsing Come Back To Life which is driven by some pulverising bass. The doomy/blues comes to the furore on the howling Black Snake which moves into the jazz influenced Dust which goes all krautrock on our asses and Rhythm Of Endless Minds is a trip through a chemical addled brain. The band have just come off a long tour of the UK and Europe tour and I can see that this kind of retro, psychedelic rock would go down well in the live arena as they can stretch their muscles a bit and jam something bands like this do very well. On the album however they can flex just enough to keep your attention. All in all zehr gut!! 7/10


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