Friday, 29 January 2016

Vast Oceanic Melodies: Solifvgae - Avenoir (2016)

Avenoir cover art

Avenoir is 'the desire that memory could flow backward'. Avenoir the album, the debut release by Brazilians Solifvgae, is one of longing and loss, looking backwards only to be swallowed and sunk by the miseries of memory; the lyrics of 'Undertow': 'farewell my father, I’m heading out to search for answers into the deep. the vast unknown awaits me, my new destiny', are shrieked with an anguish that overlays an intense spurt of abrasive dissonance: whirling guitars build in scope to a melodic intensity, the bass - extremely loud in the mix - punches its way through like a clogged heart, and the drums are typical in their black-metal mechanical pounding. But Avenoir is also a very tender album: it opens with a sea hissing and rumbling, building in volume, as footsteps crunch their way in to the water to be swallowed by the sea; birds chirp, waves lap calmly and a lonely guitar rings with soft angelic ambient sounds as 'Undertow', the second track, begins. The whole thing has a cold static edge but there is a warmth residing just underneath the surface. Subtle yet powerful melodies flows like hot springs beneath a crackling ice-sharp black metal crust. On the whole the production is not clean sounding, but this is not to the albums detriment. The sound comes across as natural and unforced. 

The vocals throughout are diverse and powerful: putrid, steaming black metal snarls that remind me of Inquisition or Enslaved are mixed up with the occasional deep cavernous guttural. But the riffs and the atmosphere in general are the most accomplished feature of Avenoir, In 'Undertow' the riffs transcend, moving from loud to calm, unwinding echoing through the mix as the bass weaves its way around shards black-metal. 

The leads in 'Fullheart' are particularly striking but the bass in particular holds a great power: it's ominous and pounding, the heart-beat of the songs, stomping through the musical depths like a spectre shackled. At five minutes the drums rupture furiously, a barrage of noise rushing in before a wind-blast abrasiveness sweeps in. There is a striking yet simple solo at 6.40 which leads to a powerful ending with the bass strutting around and an angelic ambiance floating through the surf. The entire thing is a smothering blanket of atmosphere. 

'Submerge//Emerge' is 2 minutes 48 seconds of ambiance, the sound of some mystical aura rising and flowing as exotic sounding animals call from the dying sky. A lot of these bittersweet and  cloying atmospheric  interludes and passages remind me very much of the sounds on Danish depressive-doom icons Saturnus's Paradise Belongs To You album. Like that album, the ambiance flows nicely and brings it all together without seeming forced or jarring. 

'Pathway' picks up the pace, waves crashing with more menace, washing memories away. It's filtered with melodic touches and jumpy stop-start riffing. It is - I suppose - the most 'fun' track of the album, although at three minutes it shifts in tone; it slows and becomes more menacing, deep gutturals rise from the deep and darkness seeps. 'Ocean (As Elusive Memories)', the final song - on an album that I wish was a bit longer - begins with a foreboding grumbling before exploding into life with melodic death riffs, bellowing gutturals and an aggressive intensity. At  four minutes 35 seconds there is another incredible sounding riff - it reminds me of the epic melodic leads in Winterfylleth's 'A Thousand Winters' - that resonates like the sound of a siren. The song has that rich, vast, cosmic scope of sound and atmosphere that I loved so much in Mare Cognitum's Phobos Monolith. It's a fitting conclusion to a very good album.

This album has come out of nowhere really - I was scrolling through bandcamp and spotted the striking album art work - yet I find listening to it once through, then playing it from the start, not something I've done since  Panopticon's Roads To The North. It has so many memorable moments, such a great atmosphere and aesthetic and, despite not the greatest of productions, a real edge to it. For a debut release I'm incredibly impressed and really look forward to seeing how their sound evolves. 

Rating: 8.5/10


  1. I revere your writing, and even more the perspective and the verve that inspires it