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Phavian: Meridian II

At the tail end of 2011 I reviewed the first of four parts of the Meridian story from Phavian, a band who sit somewhere progressive rock and its more technically overt cousin progressive metal. Or at least they were. For you see while there is little denying that Phavian are still progressive, or that their conceptual second instalment of the four piece epic which tells the story of evil powers and heroes, also fits neatly into that category, Meridian II finds the band lose a lot of the more aggressive elements that characterised their debut, in favour of a mid-paced symphonic attack. That's not to suggest that anyone who was touched by the charms of the first Meridian effort won't find much to link these two albums and therefore like both. They will. However truth be told, in an effort to evolve, Phavian have actually removed a few of the key factors that made them an engaging listen in the first place. A quick listen to "Purl" reveals exactly what I'm getting at, with the slow deliberate pace only being broken up from time to time through some clanking cymbal whacks and a staccato riff that while jabbing and stabbing, never really finds your weak spot. In a way the likes of White Willow are frequently brought to mind, but with less colour and hazy atmosphere, although there's no denying that for those with patience and the time to really work at "getting" their music, the likes of the lengthy "Watersong" does have more than enough about it to recommend. Singer Elizabeth Matson again adds her distinctive tones in impressive style and while her approach on Meridian was sometimes too bright for Phavian's gloomy surrounds, things have veered too far the other way this time, with her performance leaving her sounding almost disengaged from the music and not quite as enthusiastic as she might be. That said, I'm sure some will love her restrained, yet crystal clear style.

The other vibe that comes across strongly in Phavian's sound is the cleaner end of Opeth's repertoire and in a way I can see Meridian II splitting opinion in the same manner that Opeth's recent output has done with their fanbase. Some will love the constantly "within itself" feel, while others will all too often zone out (a criticism of the first Meridian instalment as well). Unfortunately I fall into the latter category. Harsh words maybe, but I can't help feeling a little let down by Meridian II, as it falls short of its more invigorating predecessor, being too happy to rest on its laurels, rather than broaden its horizons.

Can part III and IV perk things up again? Only time will tell....

Track Listing
1. Adam's Ale
2. Purl
3. Hexenring
4. Mirror Skin
5. Watersong
6. Fall Of Cruor

Added: March 2nd 2013
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Phavian Online
Hits: 1927
Language: english

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