Starting as a one-man project by Christian Ayala and evolving into a full on live band in 2017, Puerto Rican quartet Avandra have been on a consistent musical journey. Blending the technicality of progressive metal with the ambience of post-rock, their sound is both familiar, yet completely their own. Skylighting, their new record will be unleashed onto the world on November 20th 2020 through independent Prog metal label Layered Reality Productions.
Avandra’s Skylighting is an airy and light prog metal listen. The kind of technicality that doesn’t bog the mind down or deal out depressing hits and weighty rhythms. It’s a thought-provoking listen with plenty of highs and lows but always makes things feel buoyant.
A lot of that can be laid on the mellow vocals that add the air whereas the guitars and drums act as a form of anchor but one that keeps you rooted rather than dragging you down. It’s the latter that has opener Celestial Wreaths and the following Noetic Probes moving fast. As the heavens are about to open.
Where things gets really exciting though is with Life is Not a Circle, But a Sphere and finds Avandra really getting deep into their post-rock side. Wonderfully mellow and wonderfully pretty to begin with, it’s a sure highlight of the album. As it begins to go off the rails with wilder progressive rhythms, it becomes even more memorable.
Following that is something of an epic in the form of Eternal Return. Avandra playing coy at first with chill melodies, kind of like muted colours, before staging a step by step development into lavish sights. Colours that haven’t ever been seen by the naked eye before.
Take a breath if you can. ProcGen and Afferent Realms work in tandem to both scale Skylighting back temporarily and push it to even grander heights. It’s nice to hear the return of the wilder but well structured speed of the latter.
Which brings us to the end and the expectation that New Origina is going to be a gigantic and lengthy epic. Well, two do the three of those descriptions are correct. It is gigantic and it is epic sounding but it’s also the shortest track of the bunch. A drawn out outro that serves up the feeling of a finale nearly perfect. Made up mostly of score like effects and spoken word, just when you think you’ve heard everything you have to hear, the drums kick in and it kicks up just that extra notch for a powerful end.
Avandra – Skylighting Full Track Listing:
1. Celestial Wreaths
2. Noetic Probes
3. Life is Not a Circle, But a Sphere
4. Eternal Return
6. Afferent Realms
7. New Origins
Avandra - Skylighting (Layered Reality Productions)
The Final Score - 9/10