Avalon
Eurasia

From the land of beer, metal, and’well, more beer come melodic/prog metallers Avalon. And with them, the German quintet brings their fourth album, Eurasia. I consider myself a fan of the melodic/prog metal genre, and many of the records I come across that claim to be a part of it, I find to be sub-standard, market flooding filler.

Refreshingly, Eurasia is anything but. I found it to be a collection of mature songs played skillfully and tastefully with strong, modern feeling melodies and intelligent arrangements! Although the band fits comfortably in today’s melodic/prog scene, I would count them as a little more on the ‘melodic’ side of that label. They refrain from overloading your senses with a million arpeggios and over the top showmanship, opting instead to focus on the songs. The band also displays enough diversity to keep anyone’s attention.

Drummer Jacques Voutay is smooth and powerful, flying from intense double kick drums into tasty percussive licks in a split second! Bassist Petra H. Delorian displays technical prowess as well as a good feel for groove. Her slapping funk intro on ‘Temujin’ is as high energy as you can get! They keyboards, provided by Jens Kuckelkorn, are full and atmospheric with nice solo fills. Sebastian Eder is a melodic and seasoned guitarist providing style and aggression with a smooth-as-silk delivery. Vocalist Chandana Chitral Somapala, who also plays Chapman Stick on a couple of tunes, has a great voice somewhere between Vanden Plas’ Andy Kuntz and Helloween’s Andi Deris. He has a full tone edged off by a small amount of grit, and a very good range.

There are several highlights on this disc. The aforementioned ‘Temujin’ begins with a killer funk/fusion intro before diving into double kick drum fury! The bridge is melodic and catchy with great harmonies, and the chorus is high impact complete with metal shout-backs. ‘Black Hole Wisdom’ gets the award for the best opening riff on the disc. It’s a melodic, throbbing riff with a dark feel. The verses have a great groove, and the chorus is nice and grabby! When it slides back into the verse you’ll find yourself headbanging to the groove almost instantly. The solo here is also one of Eder’s shining moments, complete with emotional harmonics and bends, and a good amount of shredding! The instrumental title track is a middle-eastern flavored, melodic gem! Eder’s smooth lead lines weave effortlessly through Voutay’s subtle tribal grooves. The background chanting is also a nice touch, adding a great atmosphere. ‘The Painting’ begins as a beautiful acoustic ballad with great vocal harmonies, and a subtle piano (think of a cross between Dream Theater’s ‘The Silent Man’ and Extreme’s ‘More Than Words’) then has good ‘kick-in’ on the bridge before stripping back down and closing out. ‘The Stranger’ kicks in with a high-energy feel, then peels back to a good groove on the chorus. This song also has great keyboard layers and more precision axe work from Eder.

 What I did not expect was the classy cover of Mr. Mister’s ‘Kyrie’. The band does a fine job in staying true to the song’s original feel, while adding their own ‘metalized’ stamp on the bridge and a cool strict-time drum feel to the chorus. I have to say, I always wondered what this song would sound like with a heavier guitar tone, and now I know’very cool!

 All in all, Eurasia is a great listen! If you’ve never heard any of Avalon’s music, I suggest starting here.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shawn Pelata
September 4th, 2000

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