Album Title: Advenae
Label: Independent Release
Date of Release: 18 March 2022
Not for the first time this week, I bring you a review of a symphonic metal album. This one is from a brand new Australian band, Carmeria, and entitled ‘Advenae’, this release represents their debut full-length release. It also demonstrates the breadth of music that can be encompassed within the ‘symphonic’ descriptor. Earlier in the week, the symphonic metal featured a female vocalist and more of a pop/power metal sheen. Carmeria by contrast, offer more of a Gothic feel, alongside a heavier, and more varied approach overall. There’s a greater use of growled vocals as well as a smidge of progressive intent too.
Carmeria is a quintet that’s currently comprised of vocalist Jordan Von Grae, guitarist Jerry Zahija, bassist Emma Louise Nagy, keyboardist Miska Bobrov, and drummer Lachlan Blackwood. Apparently, ‘Advenae’ is the fruit borne out of six years of hard work for the band, a band that cite the likes of Nightwish, HIM, and Hans Zimmer as influences on their music.
From the very first listen, I would also add Kamelot to the list of influences, because to my ears, Jordan Von Grae sounds remarkably similar to Roy Khan; he has those rich tones and smooth delivery, as well as a similar intonation, making the resemblance quite uncanny at times. Interestingly though, the similarities become less prominent as the album develops, almost as if the band and Von Grae start to grow into their own skin a lot more in the latter stages.
In order to review ‘Advenae’ accurately, I feel the need to paint a picture. Imagine, if you will, two tall hills in the countryside, between which nestles a deep valley. This record is the musical equivalent of the image you have in your mind. It starts off very positively at the top of one of these hills and ends strongly at the summit of the other. However, for me, the band lose their way a little somewhere in the middle, deep in that heavily shaded valley. Every time I have listened, I have got into the record, only to lose a bit of interest, and then rediscover my enthusiasm towards the end. Some of this has to do with the fact that ‘Advenae’ runs for over an hour and, in order to remain consistent, I firmly believe that this is a touch too long. Some further editing would have been prudent to create a more succinct affair that packs a greater punch.
Additionally, I would also suggest that the album contains too much by way of slower, ballad-like material. A couple of the songs are genuinely great, but others are not so strong as far as I’m concerned. And this tends to ruin the flow somewhat. And finally, whilst not poor by any stretch of the imagination, the production feels a tad weak in places and a bit harsh on my ageing ears.
But enough of the negativity, because there is a lot of positivity that requires exploring.
When I said the album begins well, I meant it. The opening intro is also the title track and this is where those Hans Zimmer references make perfect sense, such is the opulent and cinematic bombast that this scene-setter boasts. ‘Morningstar’ follows and it’s full-on symphonic metal meets Gothic rock before it quietens to allow Von Grae to take centre stage. Given the vocal approach, there’s definitely a Kamelot sheen, but this is extinguished with the introduction of a ridiculously catchy chorus. The song skips along at a fair pace, becoming rather infectious after a while, and it’s a positive start to the record.
The positivity continues courtesy of ‘Carpe Noctem’. Starting quietly, it soon bursts into life with barely caged orchestral bombast, bringing in some snarling growls and another immediate earworm within the chorus that you can’t help but like. The opening to ‘En Rapture’ is classic ‘Once’ era Nightwish, before taking a left turn into greater Gothic territory. It’s another strong song overall with a lovely Maiden-esque melodic section just after the half-way mark, but its conclusion signals the beginning of the descent into the heavily shaded valley.
‘Relinquished’ is the first of a handful of slower songs and, although it isn’t a bad song, it lacks a bit of the punch and effervescence of the previous material. Follow-up ‘To Lead The Blind’ feels a little more theatrical, but doesn’t increase the pace or intensity an awful lot, certainly in the first half of the song, whilst the melodies don’t resonate with me anywhere near as effectively as earlier tracks did. It’s more of the same with ‘Celestia’. It’s another slow, melancholy ballad that features some gentle acoustic guitar strumming and a vibrant bass. The second half explodes but again, it again misses the mark with me, featuring melodies that are far too whimsical and folky for my tastes.
Happily, however, the final three tracks see Carmeria ascending the second hill and with it, they recapture my attention. ‘Veil Of Sanctitude’ is an opulent composition that opens up into a huge anthemic chorus with a hint of pop to it; you could almost see the band sitting on stools in a line like a boyband as they deliver this one. But it’s catchy as hell and impossible not to like, as is the meandering, musical wailing solo that emerges.
The piano intro to ‘Halo’, is great, especially the way that the orchestration builds around it to create a bedrock upon which the band then build with their more metallic instrumentation. The song itself is another slower number, almost waltz-like, but the melodies are beautiful here, creating an elegant sounding song that provides maximum impact in the process.
At well over eleven minutes long, closer ‘Eternity’ is an ambitious way to end this debut release. However, it is a very interesting composition and, in the main, well worth its extended length. There is enough variation and depth to keep things interesting throughout, with the re-emergence of growls and heavier riffs alongside the layers of orchestration. I like the heavier sound and wish they’d made more of this element of their sound elsewhere. And I really like the melodies that are reintroduced at select points of the track, keeping the lengthy song cohesive, not to mention ear catching as well. It’s actually a very impressive ending to ‘Advenae’. There is much to like on this debut record from the Australians, but there are also some less impressive moments. Personally speaking, I hope that there will be a second album and, if it does materialise, I also hope that the music is heavier, with less ballads, and also pushes more in the direction of the closing epic. If they do this, they will, at least as far as I’m concerned, be on to a winner.
The Score of Much Metal: 79%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: