Having started as a one-man project by Christian Ayala, Avandra is a Puerto Rican progressive metal band born from hurricane-fuelled strife, and now becoming one of the scene’s breakout acts. Given their humble origins, Avandra was never meant to play live.
However, after releasing the band’s first record, Tymora, demand was so high that Ayala felt obligated to bring his work to life on stage in May of 2017. By the time their second show rolled around a few months, later Puerto Rico had been ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Alone in the dark, Christian wrote what became the second Avandra record, Descender.
2018 was a whirlwind for the fledgling prog act as they travelled to New Hampshire to record their new album with Daniel Schwartz of Astronoid, then enlisting the mastering talent of the legendary Magnus Lindberg. Featuring guest spots from current and former members of Haken, Dream Theater, and Astronoid, the band seems poised to unleash something truly different and special.
In the midst of it all, they even performed a hometown show in San Juan as opener for metal legends Orphaned Land. From out of the storm’s wreckage, Avandra have spent over a year preparing this stunning sophomore release, and shall soon come forth and unleash prog metal mayhem.
Descender will be released on April 26th 2019 via Blood Music.
Imaginative metal mayhem is a strong way to describe this offering from Avandra. It’s tightly wound progressive metal built on a foundation of hyper-active riffing and intense melodies. To add more meat to the bones we also have a rich level of percussion and surprisingly clean vocals. The latter might be unexpected for some but Descender is wider in scope as shown by the first two tracks.
Beyond the Threshold: Part 1 – Helios Awakens and Beyond the Threshold: Part 2 – Helios Descends offering exciting complex rhythm sections alongside deep and mournful melodies. An excellent start.
The more sorrowful side of Avandra’s sound is heavily present on A Decision Must Be Made, a touching track. Before a piano introduces The Narrowing of Meaning with some groovy sounding metal riffing. Jumping between uplifting mellow vocals and faster paced rockiness, it’s a challenging yet enjoyable track.
You can tell that this is a record born from challenges and processed over a long period of time. It has the feel and production of a momentous effort by Avandra and the end result is both theirs and our reward.
Just look at Addler’s Bite, a 13-minute epic. Covering the entire spectrum of what Avandra has to offer. Desolate lows and grandiose highs, it conjures up beauty amongst devastation and hope when it seems as all is lost. At the 5 minute mark, the progressive metal side comes out to play. A mind-bending array of riffs and hooks.
Want more? Good because the penultimate track, Derelict Minds certainly gives it. Showcasing the best of Avandra’s expansive metal sound. While Q.E. is a lengthy outro that is dismal and haunted in tone.
Avandra – Descender Full Track Listing:
1. Beyond the Threshold: Part 1 – Helios Awakens
2. Beyond the Threshold: Part 2 – Helios Descends
3. A Decision Must Be Made
4. The Narrowing of Meaning
6. Adder’s Bite
7. Derelict Minds
Avandra - Descender (Blood Music)
The Final Score - 8/10