Of The Fallen, the new album by Avernus, features some great composition, a steady-handed approach to arrangement, and some hypnotizing use of instrumentation. But sadly, there's something missing from this disc, and I'm not sure if it can be easily summed up in a few sentences.
The first impression Avernus gives the ears is that they suffer from the same disease that afflicted the promising band Decoryah: good music, terrible vocals. Singer Rick McCoy doesn't sound confident at all as he gives his bleak monologues filled with the usual gothmetal imagery: blood and frost, shadows, ghosts, seraphims, "the sun and moon making love in the sky." There are some female vocals thrown into the mix, and they are pleasant enough, but they serve to further point out how inappropriate McCoy's vocals are.
Now, let's discuss the music, which indeed is wonderful in places, and a disappointment in others. The opening two or three songs are certainly enjoyable, if a little mundane. But then we hear the clunky opening strains of "Renaissance", a horribly pretentious instrumental that wants to sound medieval but instead sounds like your little brother Timmy's band playing at a Xena: Warrior Princess convention. It's just embarrassing.
"Ghost" is up next, and it's a considerable step up in quality. The keyboards, rather than fighting for dominance, are for once collaborating with the strings and end up with a product greater than the sum of its parts. But unfortunately, the song also features some of the worst vocals on the album, and it's quickly wiped from memory. The disc ends with the painfully silly "Beautiful Black Heart", followed by the equally stiff "Still Warm Ashes."
Of The Fallen is a most valiant attempt at serious, atmospheric, memorable music. But it's not quite there. Regardless, it's obvious that the boys in Avernus have ample talent to make their next release the masterpiece that this one could have been.