DRise of Avernus - Dramatis Personae 01ramatis Personæ is the sound of a band trying to relocate the European orchestral metal canon into their snakey and spidery Southern-Hemispherical home. Australia’s Rise of Avernus would love to have Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s authentic Italian heritage of classical music and opera informing their extremity – it’s this quality which made Oracles so ground-breaking. There’s a valiant effort for this grandeur: the record’s title is a Latin reference to the character list in drama, their name refers to the Latin word for an Italian crater, and their prior release even had a pretentious French title – L’Appel du Vide. These markers of ‘credibility’ obfuscate that Dramatis Personæ is actually a fairly orthodox fusion of extreme metal with orchestrations, in the vein of Septicflesh or Dimmu Borgir. The metal component is closer to doom here, but with touches of modernity creeping into the very core-style breakdowns and beats often used.

Unfortunately, Rise of Avernus fall down similarly to Fleshgod Apocalypse‘s more recent records. The orchestrations, including keyboard, strings and horns, largely do the melodic heavy-lifting, leaving the guitars to chug along merely providing rhythm. The irony of orchestral metal is that you expect the additional instruments and classical arrangements to heighten complexity and provide a healthy counter-balance to the heaviness: instead, these extensions replace guitar melodies and elaborate percussion both here and all too often, elsewhere. From the very opening of the EP on “In the Absence of Will…” this is apparent, with strings pre-empting typical metal instrumentation. Even when the core riff has established itself, it seems to be there only to ground the music within metal, unsubtly blasting through with simple chromatic chord progressions, leaving the orchestral top-layer well alone. Only on closer “In Hope We Drown” did I note a more diverse riff which actually leads the song, supplemented, rather than dominated, by the keyboard and occasional female cleans. Dramatis Personæ is plenty heavy, with strong rhythms and blast beats underpinning much of the record, but the tangible dichotomy between the metal and the orchestral lets the material down, as writing memorable guitar lines is largely neglected.

To be fair to the band, the production is also responsible for the limited metal nuances. The mixing emphasizes the strings and piano above the guitars, leaving the heavier layers to compete in a limited dynamic range. It’s the industry standard of 6 but this does not do justice to a genre which necessitates melody from both distorted and classical instruments. That the chosen guitar and drum tones could definitely be more crunchy to juxtapose the orchestrations hampers proceedings too.

Rise of Avernus - Dramatis Personae 02

All this is a shame since I think Rise of Avernus are on to the right idea. At its core the music is often entertaining, tying the free-flying and generous orchestrations with serious moshing-potential in the core-influenced breakdowns and chugging riffs. Aside from a couple of soft interludes, their style shifts between mid-paced doom often adorned with sombre chants and subtle-enough piano (see “In Hope We Drown”), and more energetic blast beats and simple riffs designed to induce head-banging (“In the Absence of Will…,” “Acta Est Fabula”). These sections are very simple and what you would find in metalcore – albeit with more violins – but there’s a reason why it works, as it fuses the melodic with the aggressive in a compelling way. “Acta Est Fabula” epitomizes this, with a harsh spoken-word passage narrated by Enslaved‘s Grutle Kjellson followed by a breakdown All That Remains would be proud of. The highlight is “An Alarum of Fate,” featuring a little bit of everything Rise of Avernus does well with an epic chorus and the least offensive male cleans on the EP.

I feel like this is a solid starting point, clearly demarcating the band’s intentions and style but falling short of spectacular. Given Dramatis Personæ is just an EP, I’m hopeful for a better integrated duality of the classical with the metal in the future, especially given their slim streaks of originality. Since when did shrimp and Fosters even try to compete with the Renaissance and the opera anyway?


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: code666 | Aural Music
Websites: RiseofAvernusOfficial | Facebook.com/RiseofAvernus
Release Dates: EU: 2015.03.30 | NA: 05.03.2015

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  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    As an Aussie I resemble your final remarks…:)
    We call em prawns and no Aussie in their right mind drinks Fosters!
    and umm yeah that band photo…is it just me or is that a bit too black and white minstrels ish…it gets your attention I suppose.

    • El_Cuervo

      My bad on the prawn / shrimp front – I would also say prawn, but you know the stereotype… And I feel the same about Fosters, it takes like piss.

      • Hulksteraus

        And all the Hipsters are in to craft beers these days anyway, either that or VB and XXXX…

        • Monsterth Goatom

          I think Vitamin B is one of the most popular beers in Australia. Of course, Bud Light is one of the most popular beers in America.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            it’s carbonated urine of bat

          • Monsterth Goatom

            That sounds bad… but metal.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            ha yeah

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Thats okay, Its a national trait to enjoy taking the piss out of ourselves..and everything else for that matter.
        I can confirm tho, that we do all wrestle crocodiles and ride kangaroos.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Do Australians really drink as much as the characters in “Wake in Fright”?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            We’re shocking I think only the Russians are worse than us. We inherited it from the cockneys and irish sent here in chains…That’s another default Aussie position if unsure blame the Poms

          • Hulksteraus

            Most of us have had a new kidney and liver by the time we are 25… In many cases, by the time we have reached puberty…

        • Hulksteraus

          Don’t forget the Drop Bears.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Maybe Māori rather than minstrels, but that’s not exactly a politically-correct improvement.

      Time for Captain Unicorn to swoop down and plaster on some unicorn art in place of the band photo.

      • Because they provided a band photo (regardless of how cheeseball it may be), there can be no unicorn shamery.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          I know the rules, but was hoping you’d make an exception as I’m suffering from unicorn art withdrawal.

          • Hulksteraus

            I agree, bring forth the Unicorn of Righteous Cheese!

    • Tom Hardy

      Congratulations on winning the cup this past weekend. Shame to see Clarke retire, then again a lot of greats have chosen to take their leave from the sport last month.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Looking forward to The Revenant. Really enjoyed Iñárritu’s Babel and Birdman.

        • Tom Hardy

          We finish filming in a few more weeks, I’m curious to see the outcome.

          By the way, I watched the new Mad Max film and it’s absolute bonkers, f’ing unbelievable. If all goes well, the studio can make the other 3 Max films I’ve signed up for.

          • Hulksteraus

            The trailer was bonkers too. Gotta be hard taking over from Mel, he really owned the first Mad Max films. Looking forward to seeing your contribution to the canon :)

          • Monsterth Goatom

            Yea, the Road Warrior was a film my friends and I watched a lot growing up. Man, didn’t we all want that car?

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Cheers it was pretty special!
        I felt a bit sorry for the back caps, the way we played we would have demolished any team in world cricket. They’re deserved better than the thrashing they got. I can’t wait for the next game between them, it will have some real feeling!

        Thankfully Clarke is not totally retired as he’s still going to captain Australia in test cricket…hopefully he can lead the boys to win in England this year.

        I better shut up … I don’t like cricket…oh no… I love it ah yeahhhh

        • Tom Hardy

          Aye, I hear ya mate. I was worried the Black Caps would destroy your team considering their form throughout the cup, especially that semi final. Oof, best game of the tournament.

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            That was one of the best games i’ve seen in any sport for many years, real nail biting edge of your seat stuff. My boy is a big Sth Africa / AB De’villiers fan and was in tears after that last over.

          • Tom Hardy

            The BC’s triumph was all the more rewarding considering who they were up against and the big chase. But the loss at the other end, all the more tragic because of the will and effort ABD and his team put into that game. Missed, costly opportunities made the difference. Tell your boy he was rooting for a team with a huge heart off the field and that they’ll bounce back harder.

  • Hulksteraus

    I have a feeling they supported Enslaved when they were out here at the end of last year (and that was an AWESOME gig… Enslaved even played Alfadr Odhinn!!25-odd years of Enslaved goodness rolled into 2 hours… ). From memory Rise of Avernis seemed pretty good live, haven’t had a real chance to have a good listen to them to make an informed opinion though.

    Haven’t really listened to much Australian bands since Alchemist disbanded.. Now THERE is a band that you guys should pick an album for a “Things you may have missed in the last two decades” review.

    • Thatguy

      Portal, Hope Drone, King Parrot and many, many more……seek and you shall find