It was just recently that I was introduced to Ava Inferi. When I first pressed play, I was not sure what to expect, but I had a few ideas. As the first notes emanated from my speakers, my earlier thoughts were confirmed. The music is dark, doomy, atmospheric, and operatic. It is definitely a change of pace from the death and extreme acts that have been popping up in my mix lately.
The deeper into the album I got, the more hooked I got, I was drawn into the dark riffs, slow pacing, and soaring female vocals. It is a delicious experience, listening to this combination of sounds in a darkened room, with the remainder of your senses unencumbered by any external stimuli. I suggest you give that a shot as you listen to Blood of Bacchus.
This is the third album from the Portuguese act, which formed under the leadership of Norwegian-born guitarist Rune Eriksen (aka Blasphemer, formerly of Mayhem). The music here is vastly different than what he created with Mayhem for thirteen years. If you are not familiar with Mayhem, they are a black metal band that has been at the forefront of dark brutality since 1984. The band is loud, fast, in your face, and they generally do not care what you think. This is in stark contrast to the slowed down atmospherics presented here, which wish to draw you in and join them on a journey into melancholic darkness.
Blood of Bacchus spins its hypnotic web over a scant nine tracks and an expansive 54-minutes. The majority of the tracks have long run times (six of them have run north of six-minutes) allowing their sparse, yet intricately layered arrangements, to grow, expand, and pulse with a life all of their own. In a way, it is like a vampire, seductively luring you in, inviting you along of your own free will before trapping you with no hope for escape. After all, the first words heard in the opening track "Truce" are "Join us." Fitting, no?
The centerpiece of the album has got to be Carmen Susana Simões. Her crisp, clear, soaring vocals are a thing of beauty. Bolstered by a gorgeous production, her voice flies high, adding drama and high emotion to the tension and atmosphere built by the instrumentation. Playing counterpoint to the gothic vocals are the dark, slow, chugging guitar riffs from Rune Eriksen, backed by a rhythm section that knows a thing or two about building an atmosphere of doom, highlighted by drummer João Samora. The combination is quite striking.
The combination of heavy music and operatic vocals is hardly a new one, and I cannot say that Ava Inferi is all that groundbreaking in that regard. What I can say is that they are a solid example of what it can be like when it is done right. Some may want to complain about the lack of any high energy tracks, but I do not believe it is necessary, not when the music provided is so inviting.
Bottomline. This is an album you will want to spend some time with. Turn out the lights, perhaps light a candle or three, pour yourself some wine, and allow yourself to be transported into the dark world of Ava Inferi.