Having previously toured with the likes of Silverstein, Mayday Parade and A Skylit Drive, Australian five-piece Avastera have accomplished a lot in their relatively short time together, particularly throughout the past 12 months – including releasing their debut EP, The Clocks Have Ticked Too Long, featuring seven songs that explore being more than just a pop-punk band.
Opening track Hear Me Out is a tasty little slice of classic pop-punk, with busy guitars and frantic drums. But as the EP continues, the band demonstrates an interesting attitude to formula and genre by exploring different styles. As The Tables turn opens with an intriguing mix of a hardcore-inspired riff and tinkling piano, moving into a song that really straddles different styles, including contrasting tight harmonies in the clean vocals with a harsher/screaming style at other points in the track. Although their music brings across various musical elements, this is the song which – according to guitarist and songwriter Chris Hanssen – “best showcases [their] style.”
This Beautiful Nightmare really shows off how tight the band are instrumentally, as well as their strong technical grasp on the music they play, which is impressive especially considering this is their first release and the relatively short time together, achieving a sense togetherness that can often take years to achieve. The impressive guitar solos throughout the album bring something a bit new to the scene – the one just under four minutes into Hear Me Out is a particular blinder.
Another thing that makes Avastera stand out from the crowd is the vocals – the band make the kind of music which often lends itself to the American accent, even from non-American bands. But lead vocalist Mike Lang’s un-Americanised singing sets them apart from the hundreds of similar sounding acts, and competently demonstrates a strong range. The inclusion of an acoustic version of December Sun, a reflective song about a past relationship of Hanssen’s, really showcases Lang’s vocal abilities, as well as lyrics that are clearly meaningful and personal to Hanssen, who states that “all lyrics on the EP are of a personal reflection to things, people and/or events in my life,” something that comes through perfectly on December Sun. As well as the acoustic version, the full band version is also featured, showcasing the band’s ability to shine in completely different styles, with both the electric and acoustic versions having a very different feel to them.
Although Avastera may still be yet to reach their full potential, it’s very definitely there, and shines through in The Clocks Have Ticked Too Long. There’s a quite an old school pop-punk vibe to the EP, but the experimentation with other styles and genres stops it from feeling uncomfortably nostalgic. The balance of the heavy and soft and the changing styles make it an exciting album to listen to, with complexity and surprises to be found and enjoyed throughout and without it feeling pretentious or try-hard. As Hanssen himself states “whilst I love most pop-punk, and always will, I think there’s a lot of really bad ‘pop-punk’ out there too.” By the sound of this EP, falling into that category doesn’t look like something Avastera have to worry about.