Avalon - Vision Eden


Year of Release: 1998
Label: Omega Records
Catalog Number: OM 981101
Format: CD
Total Time: 44:50:00

Here is a band who has gone through some identity changes over the years and never really have taken off. I'm not sure if the problem is in the lineup, the writing, the label or some other unseen problem, but with the right ingredients this band could make some waves in the metal world. As it stands, they are a very good melodic metal band that rank up there with the likes and style of Ivory Tower, Centaur, and other German bands of this style. Seems as though melodic metal is making it's slow comeback, however, the injections of progression in the music is also making the trendy wave, and I couldn't be more happier.

THE STYLE

Their first disc, Why Now, was a very good, pretty straight ahead melodic metal disc that showed that the band had potential. The music was pretty basic, catchy, melodic metal with a good singer. Their second disc, Mystic Places, would have been the breakthrough disc for them, as the band cranked up the wattage in several places; the style, which now saw them heading in a more progressive, epic style, heavily keyboarded melodic metal band. An outstanding production, superb artwork on the disc gave the impression that this disc could make some waves in the metal world. Everyone pretty much agreed that the music was excellent metal, and the epic prog that they injected along the way was about to satisfy even the most die hard prog fan. Then, the singer opened his mouth and that was about the end of the wave of recognition that the band was about to receive. For some reason, the singer decided that he would sing in a more gruff, sandblasted voice and see what would happen from there. Well, it didn't work because the only complaints ever heard from this disc was that the singer was a bit irritating, and I have to agree. Future disc purchases from this band would have to rely heavily upon the singer once again resorting to his natural, more pleasing voice.

The release Vision Eden signifies the addition of a new member to the band; a singer, and this guy can sing. I'll get to that part down below. In the meantime, the band has sought to combine the styles of both the first two discs and mix them into a melodic/ prog metal project that still has that epic flavor to it, although with less keyboards, and a bit more of that German "old school" style metal, mixed in with some speed, ballads, and all out rockers. If you are familiar with Centaur, this is about the closest band I can think of that Avalon can be compared to. Centaur is a bit more guitar oriented, and Avalon uses keyboards to accent the melodies. At times, I might even hear a bit of The Scorpions in the music, or what might have become of that band had it continued on in the late 90's; although the singer may have something to do with that. So, if you can imagine some Centaur with a bit more keyboards, a bit more progression, and an emphasis on vocal harmonies, you might get what Avalon is all about. The best way to describe this band is melodic prog metal laced with keyboards and plenty of vocal harmonies.

THE BAND:

Chitral Somapaia - Vocals
Sebastian Eder - Guitars
Petra Hassellkuss - Bass
Jens Kuckelkorn - Keyboards
Ronny Dehn - Drums

The band is a talented combination of players that rival good melodic metal bands of the era. As is with lots of German metal bands, the emphasis is on the "whole" rather than the "one" and the band combines their collective talents to produce the overall sound rather than focus on a particular instrument to drive the sound. The guitars and keyboards share dual roles in creating the sound. The guitarist is proficient with his instrument, providing a heavy, crunchy, background rhythm while at the same time providing standard solos along the way. He certainly likes his twin and triple lead harmonies,and there are plenty abound. Mix that in with the large quantity of vocal harmonies and this is one hell of a party for an engineer. That may be a problem down the road though.The keyboard player uses a multi-sound setup, ranging from piano, to synth, to strings, and beyond. He pretty much mirrors the guitarist in stride to create that huge sound that they obtain, and this seems to be a trademark of the band. The bass player is female, and I have NO problem with that. While she is a pleasure to look at, she is an extremely accomplished player and has been with the band since the beginning I believe. She provides a nice, boomy bottom end (no pun intended), and is more than adequate for the job at hand. Having been in the band so long, it's clear that the other members feel the same way. The drummer is good, but he doesn't have too much of a heavy role to play in the music, as it is not that complicated. Again, it's a band effort, and all of the players do their job well to bring the Avalon sound to us.

THE VOCALS:

This could be the shortest vocal summary I've ever done. To simply put it, has Klaus Meine been resurrected to sing for this band? Has he changed his name to Chity Somapala to protect his identity? The band photo certainly doesn't indicate that Klaus is in this band, but you'll swear that Klaus has been recruited to sing for this band, and that's a good thing. This guy adds that melodic sweetness that the band lacked on their last disc because of the gruff style vocals. Suffice it to say, if you like Klaus Meine, this guy is a dead ringer for him, hands down. Add in a bit of that classy German accent that I rave about, and you've got one hell of a melodic metal singer here.

THE PRODUCTION:

Unfortunately, the band has to give up something for all of this sound, epic harmonies (vocally and instrumentally) and the sound is where they had to sacrifice. Well, at least not totally. It appears that the engineer couldn't quite place all of the huge walls of sound that this band needs to create properly and the drums and some of the bottom end suffer a bit on this disc. Had they taken the production of Mystic Places and put it to this disc, they've now got one of the best melodic metal releases of the year on their hands. To start, the vocals are recorded superbly; especially with the tons of harmonies; clean, crisp, and bright in the mix. The guitars are just bit too far back in the mix, which takes away from the overall heaviness of the disc somewhat. There are tons of overdubs here as well, and it appears that someone just couldn't quite get it right in the mix, placing them just bit back and decreasing the heaviness they had on the last disc. The keyboards are about the most properly placed sounds in the mix - as they tend to provide a huge realm of sound and run along side of the guitar most of the way so you don't miss a thing here.

Where does the problem occur ? Well, to start, in the bass mix. While it is a very clear bass sound, the bottom end is missing just a bit. The guitars are too far back in the mix to handle the chunky end all by itself, so the bass needs to stand out a bit to help beef up the chunk, and it's not happening. The drums are also just a bit back in the mix, but the real problem is that tinny snare drum sound that always irritates the hell out of me, especially when it is supposed to be the backbone for all of this epic music going on around it. I can't stress enough that a good snare drum sound really accents the music, especially when the rest of the kit sounds pretty good, along comes this tin can sound providing the heart of the beat, and it really detracts from the music. It just gets lost in the sound. My untrained guess is that there was just too much sound and music all at once to really get a grasp on every aspect of it, and some areas had to suffer for it. It's too bad, because this disc just cries out to be heavier, and it's surprising because their last effort has tons of chunk and sound. I didn't check producers, but if this is the same guy, something has gone terribly wrong with his sound perspective. This is not a bad production overall, but it's just a shame that the band got short-changed a bit becuse they are really putting out a great performance on this disc, and they deserve everything they can get, especially sound. The production does not ruin the disc in any way, it just makes you want more from the sound man.

THE COMMENTS:

Melodic metal is alive and well according to this band, and the new trend of adding bits of progression to the sound is paying off for bands like Avalon, Ivory Tower, Anguish, Headstone, Centaur, and other German bands who play this same style. This band is very talented, and with the right combination of ingredients, could make a metal statement at some time. As it stands, this is a very good disc, and I highly recommend it to lovers of melodic metal who like progression thrown in for good measure.

[According to the Avalon website, Pietro Ramaglia is their new drummer, replacing Ronny Dehn [who was replaced by Jacques Voutay shortly after it seems] -ed.]


Tracklisting:
They Are In Between Us (4:22) / Children Of War (6:25) / Lord Of Dignity (4:44) / Fate Of Centuries (4:39) / Age Of Salvation (5:32) / Dancing With The Devil (5:33) / The Road To Eden (2:25) / Far Away (5:02) / Gene Genius (5:13) / Solitune (inst) (2:15)

Musicians:
Chitral Somapala - vocals
Sebastian Eder - guitars
Petra Hassellkuss (Delorian) - bass
Jens Kuckelkorn - keyboards
Ronny Dehn - drums

Discography:
Why Now (1995)
Mystic Places (1998)
Vision Eden (1998)
Eurasia (2000)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin DE

Added: July 25th 1999
Reviewer: Larry "LarryD" Daglieri

Artist website: www.omegarecords.de/avalon
Hits: 793
Language: english

  

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