|Musical Style: Melodic Power Metal||Produced By: Lance King|
|Record Label: Nightmare||Country Of Origin: USA|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 13||Rating: 80%|
|Running Time: 55:04|
Avian is the brainchild of a talented guitarist and songwriter by the name of Yan Leviathan. Developing the vision for the band in November of 2002 when he was flying back from the Progpower USA II festival in Atlanta, Leviathan started working on new material once he got home and soon began recording in a studio named The Saltmine in Phoenix. When he mentioned to the owner of the studio, Don Salter, that he was looking for a bass player and drummer, Salter got him in touch with former Megadeth bassist David Ellefson. The two immediately began working together, but when the issue of a lead vocalist came up after several months, Ellefson suggested Lance King (Pyramaze, Balance Of Power). Ellefson proceeded to contact King, and after explaining to him what he and Leviathan were doing, sent him a demo with two songs to records vocals on. Upon getting the tracks in question back, the two were blown away and asked King if he would do all the songs. Since King and Ellefson had previously talked about working together at some point in the future, he agreed to handle lead vocal duties for the entire album. In early 2004, with the majority of the songs recorded and ready for mixing, King’s band mate in Pyramaze, Jonah Weingarten, was brought in to add the final touch on keyboards. Finally, over the last half of 2004 Roger Moore, the guitarist in King’s old band Gemini, recorded the albums lead guitar work in King’s studio in Minneapolis. Once a mastered CD was complete, Avian proceeded to hire Intromental Management which led to the band signing to Massacre Records (Europe), Nightmare Records (US) and Hot Rockin’ (Japan).
The best way to describe Avian’s 2005 full length debut From The Depths Of Time would be mid-tempo paced melodic power metal with tendencies towards progressive metal and old school heavy metal. Fans of Balance Of Power, Magnitude 9, Jacobs Dream, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden and Pyramaze will definitely find this appealing. Yan Leviathan proves a particularly adept songwriter in that his compositions, while not showcasing the greatest amount of variety, are quite catchy and easily hold up under noteworthy melodies and catchy choruses. Those of you familiar with Lance Kings’ work in Balance Of Power and Pyramaze will not be disappointed either, his soaring lead vocal style bringing out the best in the albums very fine material. I might describe Roger Moore as the best guitarist nobody ever heard of. While his technical playing brings to mind Rob Johnson (Magnitude 9) or even Rex Carroll (Whitecross), he does not make the mistake of overplaying and, subsequently, is always on target with just the right riff or solo. Weingarten’s keyboards play a distinct role but it is one that enhances and not detracts from the music. David Ellefson combines with drummer David Small – who is a member of F5 with Ellefson – to form a tight sounding rhythm section.
Production values come across crisp and clean and with no hint of muddiness. The only area of improvement worth noting, however, is that the drums could have projected a bit more punch and power. For example, compare the drum sound here to that found on other Lance King projects by Balance Of Power (Perfect Balance) and Pyramaze (Legend Of The Bone Carver) and you will notice a striking difference.
Leviathan, who is a big fan of science fiction, took the name Avian from the intelligent and compassionate birdlike creatures found in Arthur C. Clarke’s & Gentry Lee’s The Rama series. As a matter of fact, From The Depths Of Time is somewhat of a science fiction based concept album dealing with the end of days and a warning to mankind that there are “guardians” out there watching us.
“Through The Past And Into Forever” is a short (:45) instrumental album opener that slowly moves forward to a blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards.
A galloping riff drives “As The World Burns” forward from the start in an energetic manner, the song not culminating until it attains a melodic flavored chorus that, with repeated listening, will refuse to leave your head. After drummer David Small steps forward with a touch of double bass, he helps lead the way to an instrumental passage carried by several seconds of flashy lead guitar work. The message to “As The World Burns” comes across in the form of a warning:
The battle of all ages looms on the horizon
Nothing sort of a miracle will stop it now
The rise and fall of Babylon
Should have warned us not to reach so high
The open air rhythm guitar getting “Black Masquerade” underway is soon backed by a touch of double bass, the two driving the song in an intense fashion to a fleeting but incredibly catchy hook filled chorus. Roger Moore showcases his abilities with a sharp sounding guitar solo. “Black Masquerade” delivers more words of warning:
Blood red moon awaits, will the world awake
Signs of judgment day, time will seal our fate
“The Fear” fades in to sweeping synthesizers that give way to a storm of pounding rhythm guitar and a brief bass guitar solo. Immediately picking up in pace, “The Fear” aggressively takes off as a touch of double bass helps take it to another chorus holding up under a good catchy hook. The intensity level quickly escalates as the song makes a time change to an instrumental passage featuring a fiery guitar solo underscored by rapid double bass.
Introduced to a hard hitting riff with a symphonic feel, “Final Frontier” settles down to an edgy rhythm guitar for its first verse before gaining momentum as layered vocal harmonies carry its emotional flavored pre-chorus. The near-mesmerizing chorus that follows ranks among the albums best. More layered vocal harmonies make their presence felt during an instrumental passage highlighted by a guitar solo with an almost bluesy – can I use that term here? – feel to it.
“Across The Millions”, the albums second short (1:10) instrumental, showcases Moore’s technical open air guitar solo backed by synthesizers. Very well done.
The album hits its stride with the excellent “Time And Space Part I: City Of Peace”. The song opens slowly in an acoustic laced manner until it makes a time change when the rhythm guitar kicks in hard and heavy. Advancing through its first verse at a stylish mid-tempo pace, “City Of Peace” builds in impetus until it peaks for a sweeping chorus fortified by King’s smooth sounding vocal delivery. Moore’s lead guitar work starts out slowly only to pick up a plethora of speed at its end. The lyrics to “City Of Peace” almost reflect a contradiction:
Time and space meet in the streets of broken dreams
Where can the children play; there’s no City of Peace
Moon’s glow delivers hope all across the hallowed land
Where will the children go; there’s no City of Peace
“Single Blade Of Vengeance” is a good straightforward hard rocker. The keyboards initiating the song slowly build in intensity until a catchy riff takes over and propels it hard and heavy to a choppy chorus accentuated by layered vocal harmonies. I love how a time change is made to a blazing guitar solo carried over rapid double bass.
Beginning to several seconds of open air rhythm guitar, “Blinding Force” moves forward to a hard hitting double bass driven riff until it transitions to in chorus delivered with just the right amount of sublime splendor. Once again, a time change is made as Moore takes over with his lightning-like leads reinforced by more double bass. According to “Blinding Force” there is still no hope for mankind:
Children grieving, thoughts deceiving
And the angels start to cry
Morals broken, fate has spoken
Who is looking through the glass eye
The keyboard solo at the start of the semi-ballad “Time Is All We Need” gives way to a touch of rhythm guitar that quietly compels it to a slowly moving chorus that comes across almost commercial in feel. As “Time Is All We Need” picks up in pace, a crisp rhythm guitar moves to the front of the mix and carries the song to its close. King really brings out the best in this track as he sings in a lower key when compared to the rest of the albums material. “Time Is All We Need” begins to reveal that there are signs of hope:
Time slips away, through winter nights and days
Someday somehow, well regain all left behind
The past is gone, moved on without a chance now
We carry on, take life’s great majesty
“Queen Of The Insane” starts slowly until the rhythm guitar steps forward and aggressively conveys its verse portions at a crunchy mid-tempo pace. Advancing through its bridge to a plethora of double bass, the song picks up in pace for a chorus giving rise to a near frenzied ambience. Stopping dead in its tracks, “Queen Of The Insane” breaks for a bass guitar solo followed by several seconds of vigorous lead guitar work.
“Last Moon”, the albums third and final mini (1:32) instrumental, slowly moves forward to an immaculate blend of acoustic guitar and keyboards.
An anthem-like riff introduces the majestic “The Depths Of Time” before progressing through its first verse to just the right amount of hard hitting double bass. Tapering off slightly for its catchy pre-chorus, double bass continues to push the song forward until deep sounding vocal harmonies enter the mix in time to highlight an extensive chorus driven by the same anthem-like riff opening it. “The Depths Of Time” does a good job of summing up the albums theme:
Way out in the dark, far beyond the distance
Hiding from the light, deep in the shadows of night
Waiting for the spark, from beyond, in the remoteness
They stay out of sight, making sure all is right
Where are they now: they’re out there waiting
Where are they now: beyond the light
Where are they now: they’re out there waiting
Where are they now: the Guardians of Time
In closing, there is a lot to like about Avian’s full length debut From The Depths Of Time. From front to back the album is quite consistent with Leviathan’s compositions all holding up under repeated play. At the same time, very fine performances are put in by Roger Moore and Lance King. The only complaint worth noting is that there could have been a bit more diversity here- perhaps another ballad or a faster paced number or two to better compliment the albums mostly mid-tempo paced material. While the production values are quite good, I cannot help but think the drums sound could have been beefed up. All in all, if you are a fan of Lance King and/or enjoy catchy melodic power metal along the lines of Magnitude 9 or Pyramaze then by all means get this.
Review: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Through The Past And Into Forever” (:45), “As The World Burns” (5:07), “Black Masquerade” (4:56), “The Fear” (4:17), “Final Frontier” (5:08), “Across The Millions” (1:10), “Time And Space Part 1: City Of Peace” (6:03), “Single Blade Of Vengeance” (4:43), “Blinding Force” (4:52), “Time Is All We Need” (4:49), “Queen Of The Insane” (6:05), “Last Moon” (1:32), “The Depths Of Time” (5:06)
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Lance King – Lead Vocals
Yan Leviathan – Guitars
Jonah Weingarten – Keyboards
Roger Moore – Lead Guitar
David Ellefson – Bass
David Small - Bass