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Avian - Ashes and madness 3.5/5

Reviewed: 11-21-08


1. Ashes and madness
2. The lost and forsaken
3. Into the other side
4. Esoteric lies
5. Fall from grace
6. Beyond the hallowed gates
7. Thundersoul
8. All the king's horses
9. Never fade from me
10. Time and space part II: Unlock the mystery

U.S. band Avian brought us their debut 'From the depths of time' in 2005, and now 3 years later they've released their 2nd CD 'Ashes and madness'. While the band consisted of 3 original members and a number of guest musicians during the recording of their debut, they've gone through a massive line-up overhaul for this 2nd CD. First off, the only members from the time of their debut that are also present on this CD are popular vocalist Lance King and guitarist Yan Leviathan, who's also the band's main songwriter. Jerry Babcock is now the band's drummer and they've grabbed another guitarist, Bill Hudson, who has been in (or is in) a number of other bands, including Cellador, Circle II Circle and Power Quest.

Back when I reviewed their debut (and to this day), I considered it to be a solid CD, but it contains a fair amount of average to above average songs and is lacking in the number of highlights. With 'Ashes and madness', the quality of the songs is more consistently great and there's no doubt that the band's songwriting skills have improved. I think this CD has less of a progressive edge too, and is more along the lines of straightforward melodic heavy/power metal. While most of the songs are of the mid-paced variety, there is some speed, and although the rhythms are simple, they're catchy and I enjoy this CD from start to finish.

Special note must be made of the high number of terrific guitar solos, courtesy of Bill Hudson. It's my personal opinion that melodic heavy/power metal is best when there are some interesting and exciting guitar solos to balance out the simple (yet catchy) rhythms, and this is a big reason why I thoroughly enjoy this CD. My favorite song is the closer "Time and space part II: Unlock the mystery" (which is also the longest - over 10 minutes), as it starts out slow and then blazes into a fast and powerful number that ends the CD in a strong manner. The song even features Lance's young daughter Abby as the outro voice, and as a father of 2 young girls myself, I think that's pretty cool. So the bottomline is, if you weren't overly impressed with the band's debut, there's still a very good chance you'll like this CD, as there's no doubt the band has improved.




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