Avatar – Millennia [2011]

Band: Avatar
Album: Millennia
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Symphonic Black Metal

“Millennia” is the latest and last release by now disbanded Belgian black metal quintet “Avatar”.

The album begins with the track “Mirrors”, which begins with a slow piano intro. The slow picking of a guitar soon follows. Surprisingly,  the combination works really well. Almost two minutes in the track turns heavy but retains it’s slow pace. The sound of synthetic organs from a cheap keyboard join in the rest of the music when the track turns heavy and the steady beating of a double bass pedal follows after that. The keyboard generated sound of flutes brings the track to a calming end, which is unusually good for a black metal track.

“The Unbodied Serpent” is next. It begins with a folkish and medieval sounding guitar intro, which is soon accompanied by keyboards and some very rough and raw vocals. The drums sound somewhat soft compared to the rest of the music. The use of female vocals along side the harsher male vocals is very reminiscent of “Ethereal”. The keyboards have a very eerie sound to them throughout part of the track and the drums seem to get heavier. The guitars get heavier as well with some nice tremolo picking in sections. The only problem with this track is that it’s too long, though the use of a guitar solo, despite being unusual for this genre, is very nice.

Following after is “The Ancient King”. It begins with an “Iron Maiden” sounding riff, which is soon followed by heavily beaten drums, synth sounds and pure black metal-styled brutality. The vocals, again, are rough and raw. The keyboards perform some nice eerie riffs again, which work very well with the vocals and drums. The use of a guitar solo, just like in the previous track, is brilliant. The bass performs some good riffs in sections of this track as well. “Smoky Mountain” comes next and it begins with an eerie sounding keyboard intro, which sets a dark and grim mood which is soon ruined by clean guitars making an appearance. The track does turn partially heavy and female vocals make an appearance. The keyboards can be heard all the way through the track which is a good thing. The male vocals finally make an appearance over half way through the track, bringing a bit more heaviness to it.

The title track “Millennia” begins with a combination of clean and distorted guitars, which are soon accompanied by keyboards and drums. The vocals seem to over power the track. The track itself seems to have a grand and epic sound to it, something which is rare in black metal, though it doesn’t ruin the track. After a line of clean vocals about two minutes in, the track turns heavy and a great solo finds its way on to the track as well. There is also a brilliant eerie keyboard section towards the end, which eventually is accompanied by a slow, hypnotic bass riff and a clean guitar riff.

“Le Secret Du Soleil”, which is French for “The Secret of the Sun”, is next. It begins with a sample sound of running water, mixed with a keyboard section and an acoustic guitar riff.  The keyboard sounds of flute soon dominate the track, with the distant sound of water in the background along the acoustic guitar. Following after is “Ultra Mare” that brings back the symphonic brutality with a keyboard and guitar intro, followed by pounding drums. The bass line is very rhythmic and works very well with the vocals when they make an appearance. The vocals sound more rough and raw than they have been on the previous tracks. The guitar riffs seem to switch between slightly melodic and brutal. The female vocals make an appearance towards the end and they work brilliantly well with the harsher vocals, which is always a good thing.

“The Summergate” comes next. it begins with a trumpet sound generated by the boards, followed by drums and a sinister sounding guitar riff.  The vocals sound like they’re overpowering the track. The drums keep a nice and constant fast pace throughout parts of the track. The keyboards help give this track a certain atmosphere. The final track “Weltschmerz” which is German for “World-weariness” comes next. it has a somewhat odd intro for a black metal track, as the drums sound very techno and there’s a use of samples from what would seem to be speeches by world leaders. When the keyboards come in, they add more of a techno sound to the track. Samples of other speeches and radio transmissions make appearances throughout the track. There is a slight use of harsh vocals over halfway through the track, which works oddly well.

The sound quality and production of “Millennia” isn’t great, which adds to the sheer brilliance of the album. The use of female vocals on some of the tracks gave the album a bit of a Gothic metal sound as well. However, the techno-sounding track at the end came as a surprise and did ruin the black metal element of the album slightly, despite the slight use of harsh vocals on that track.

4/5

Nico Davidson

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