Album Review: Kastalija by Avven
Posted by RiffRaff
Amid the deluge of albums I’ve been highly anticipating rolling in (Rush, Gojira, Ihsahn, Shadows Fall, etc. Reviews coming soon 😉 ) a band that I’ve kept putting off for the high profiles got a little lost in the mix. Well, I finally got myself away from my shiny new albums for a hot minute to check out some pending review requests and the Slovenian folk metal band Avven was the first to be spun. Now it’s the little guys turn to shine as I can now not pull myself away from their 2011 record Kastalija. Between the live folk instruments, great grooves, and powerful and deep clean singing this record is a keeper.
From the album opener, “Zmaji” the band lets you know that they have a knack for creating big sing-a-long refrains and choruses as well as a penchant for utilizing some great folk melodies. Within moments my bare, nerdy chest sprouted a forest of hair, my beard grew to Gandalf proportions, and I found myself dancing around with a battle-axe strapped to my side and a horn of mead raised to my lips. While listening I was having the time of my life, and that was just the first tune! I’d call that a good start.
While I was expecting some more mead swilling music to pump through my headphones I was pleasantly surprised that they opted to go for a melancholic folk power ballad for the next tune, “Ros”. Here they keep that big chorus feel that was present on the first track and introduces some wonderful female vocals into the mix. With their wonderful execution they really add a nice sad tone to the song and contrast with the lead male vocals very well. This somber tone continues through the following tune “Nuala” where the duet of vocalists struck me even deeper as they really give the melody some great depth and emotion.
When “Vvile” started up I was treated to an intro that really reminded me of “Reflections” by Tool before they kicked back into high gear with a nice mid paced alt-metal tune. Wondering where that great upbeat, drinking metal that I heard on the first track went, Avven read my mind and jumped right into another great happy and bouncy tune, “Ibo”, and got my feet moving again. “Tarak”, the only song in English on the album, keeps the uplifting energy of the album rolling with a nice old-school metal sound and “Hej Ti!” takes a page out of Turisas’ book with a great battle metal tune. “Spain” is pretty much what the title suggests. Amidst the rockin’ metal there is Spanish Flamenco melodies and claps as well as a nice and prominent Spanish bugle. Definitely one of the stand-out songs on the album. For the final two songs on the album they follow suit with feel and style that they set up with their more upbeat tunes with the closer “Tornach” acquiring a nice ‘epic’ sound.
I found myself nice and surprised with how solidKastalija is. Avven aren’t breaking down any doors or pushing the envelope in folk metal, but they are writing some totally catchy and diverse tunes that any fan of folk metal should check out. The fact that all the vocals were sung instead of shouted, screeched, or growled was a big plus for my enjoyment of the record. The majority of folk metal bands lean toward the extreme vocal style (which I have no problem with whatsoever, have I told you how much I love Moonsorrow 😉 ) and it’s nice to hear some clean singing, especially the male/female duets. As solid as this album is I am anticipating where these guys (and gals) can go as their sound grows, if they choose to push the envelope a bit I think they will be destined for big things (push the m/f vocals, hint hint 😉 ). Peace Love and Metal!!!!