Sunday, June 23, 2024

Avkrvst – The Approbation 

Avkrvst, Simon Bergseth, and Martin Utby are lifelong friends whose fathers were once bandmates. When they were young, Simon and Martin made a promise to follow in their dads’ footsteps and form a band of their own. In 2021, they fulfilled that promise with the creation of The Approbation.

This is an album, for a band releasing it as a debut, which is grandiose in aspiration, containing everything from the music which inspired them growing up, meaning flashes of Porcupine Tree, Opeth and Neal Morse. There’s everything from lush sonic landscapes to aggressive, almost brutal guitar licks. But also, for a debut album, it’s a very assured piece of work. The playing is good and the overall vibe is positive, though a negative point is the deep growling vocals which distort a few tracks.

The Approbation is a concept album, the story being centred around a main character who lives in isolation in a cabin far from civilisation and who’s contemplating his imminent departure from the world. It takes the listener through the thoughts of a man struggling towards the acceptance of death. They recorded the album in a cabin during a cold wet autumn and winter, and the sounds of rain and train sounds on the album were those actually occurring outside during the recording, which can be heard on the opening track, ‘Osterdalen,’ a 30-second soft acoustic intro which gives no hint of what’s to come, and then ‘The Pale Moon’ detonates in your ear, opening with a stuttering riff then becoming a semi-acoustic reverie. It’s a song portraying a lonesome soul on a journey towards the end of his life .. “my life feels like it’s burned to the ground”.

‘Isolation’ begins and ends frenetically with pure prog metal blasts, with the middle section sounding like a more melodic Opeth. ‘Great White River’, the force carrying the man to his demise, is an ingenious blend of angular art-pop and frostbitten fury, and ‘Arcane Clouds’ is full of big proggy keyboard surges alongside a gorgeously soft vibe. The ten-minute ‘Anodyne’ is almost two songs, with crunching guitar in the first part before the vocals arrive halfway through. Closing song ‘The Approbation’ is fourteen minutes of darkly gorgeous playing, with its dreamy Genesis-tinged intro, with the man now thinking “is this what life comes down to, a shallow myth?” as powerful riffing and soft ambience swirl around.

For a debut album, there’s some very imaginative playing coupled with moments of real elegance and also of metal mayhem. It’ll certainly be interesting to hear how Avkrvst follows this up, but they can be proud of what is a fine opening statement.

Laurence Todd
Laurence Todd
Took early retirement after many years as a teacher in order to write books as well as about music. A long-time music obsessive, has wide and eclectic tastes but particularly likes prog rock and rock in general. Enjoys going to gigs and discovering new acts.

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