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Aeverium - Break Out

Aeverium - CD Review
Break Out

Break Out



CD Info
Out of Line Music
12 Tracks
English Lyrics

If there is one thing I've learned in my time hanging out with musicians and being around the music community, is that musicians, on the whole, are big talkers. Like really big talkers. I could theorize about what this is all about from a psychological perspective, but I'll spare you my amateur psychoanalysis and get to the point. Aeverium, a young band from Viersen, in the western reaches of Germany, talks big for a band formed in late 2013. To quote from their Facebook page:

"Gothic Metal is stagnating; one half of the genre has gone soft, the other half desperately tries to convince us that it is still 1995. But is this reason enough to declare this genre dead? No way! Aeverium must have thought the same – and removed all the dust that has cumulated [sic] on this music. They cleansed this genre of its cliché-laden insignia, its pseudo-romantic pathos and its so-called rules. A new power is rising – and we are the witness when Aeverium is bringing in its harvest."

Those are some pretty big claims from a relatively unknown band just starting out on its journey. I have listened to Aeverium's debut full-length album, entitled Break Out, which follows up an EP called Harvest Time, which was released last year. Recently inking a deal with Out of Line Music, Aeverium has some notable characters involved with Break Out, including a very well-known guest vocalist, who I'll get to later on. Production-wise, the release was produced by After Forever alumni Sander Gommans, and mixed by Jos Driessen in the Sandlane Sound Facilities, where bands like Xandria, Stream of Passion, and Epica have had their albums mixed. But what about the big talk, and the big names? Do Aeverium's claims have any teeth, and does a high-profile production team mean anything in the end? Well, here is my take.

I have my own opinions about the status of Gothic metal, and while I don't necessarily agree that "stagnating" is the best descriptor, I do believe it's become a genre or label that's a catch-all for metal - particularly fronted by a woman - that is hard to otherwise categorize. Like symphonic power metal, it's a sub-genre that has evolved over the years, but not in a progressive way; rather, the lines between it and other genres have become really mushy. The once clearly-defined lines between symphonic power metal and Gothic metal, and the more generalized label "melodic metal" have changed over the past few years and frequently overlap into something more difficult to categorize. After all, you seldom see the term "symphonic power metal" these days; it's morphed into the more general "symphonic metal" because the power metal part of that genre has faded away. But I'm digressing here.

Aeverium, fronted by both a male and a female, and their new CD, Break Out, are an amalgam of a lot of different genres, blending symphonic elements, with bits of nu-metal, bits of power metal, bits of Gothic metal, and a bit of -core stuff as well. But I've spent too much time on categorization, so lets get down to the nitty gritty of the review.

Let me start out by saying that this is a great CD, hands down. Does having a high-profile production team make a difference? I really think in this case it does. Sander Gommans has brought seemingly disparate elements together in Aeverium's songs in a way that is seamless and powerful, so that the disparate elements compliment each other rather than creating a mish-mash of sounds and styles that doesn't make any sense. There is a whole lot of variety of sounds and styles on Break Out, and it's a testament to the bands versatility as performers and the the producer's deftness that this CD isn't a confusing mess.

One of the strengths - or, in my opinion - the biggest strength of the album and the band itself is the is the vocal variety singers Marcel "Chubby" Römer and Aeva Maurelle bring to the table. This is one of the most versatile vocal duos I have ever heard. Marcel has a powerful clean vocal, but also a hell of a harsh voice, and can scream and growl with the best of them. Sometimes he does all of this in one song. As for Aeva, she can be soft and sensitive, she can belt with the big girls, and she can also suddenly jump into full-on opera mode in a soaring soprano. And in some songs, she does all three. Besides that, these two sound great together, and provide each other with great backing vocals. The vocal gymnastics are amazing, providing tension, atmosphere, and drama. This alone makes this an album worth checking out; the vocals are that impressive.

Musically, Aeverium's sound is very polished and very mature for such a young band. As previously mentioned, their style combines a mixture of elements that meld together to create something unique. The more nu-metal elements are not off-putting, but rather add a bit of spice to the melodies and vocal lines. The first song, "Break Out", might be a bit nu-metalish in it's rhythm and tempo, but it's also got a power metal feel to it with the tempo change in the chorus after the faster verses. There is some sampling and some sounds, but they work, and of course this song, as the introduction to the CD and therefore, in my opinion, the most important song on the album, is a great first taste. It's bombastic, it highlights the vocals styles of the singers, it foreshadows what we can expect in terms of keyboard and sampling involvement, and it sets the overall tone of the CD, which is heavy as hell and full of different textures and moods.

The lyrics on Break Out are pretty dark. Skepticism about the mass media and the cynicism about what's on the news these days form the basis for the lyrics in "Distrust", and other lyrical themes include stuff like moving on from loss and the past, mental states, unfulfilled dreams, and generally gloomy topics, much like what you would expect from a Gothic metal band.

My favourite songs on the release are the title track, "Break Out", which is also the first single off the album, and it has its own music video, too, here. I also love "Heaven's Burning (Harvest Time)", which also has a video, the ballad, sung solo by Aeva, "Ground Beneath Your Feet," and track 11, "What Are You Waiting For." This is the song that has the special guest vocalist, who does a duet with Marcel. And it is none other than Amanda Somerville herself! Great song! Finally, I loved the closing track, "To Live Forever", (well, technically it's not the actual closing track as there is one bonus track after it, but you know what I mean) which was a fantastic wrap up to the album, with an epic, crescendoing, and very goose bump-inducing ending that showcases some of the most emotional vocals by both Marcel and Aeva on the CD.

Aeverium opened for Xandria earlier this month along with Voices of Destiny on a four-city club tour, so they are getting some great attention. Powerful, and at times intense, the band offers up a multi-layered and complex specimen with Break Out. Vocally, it's exciting. Musically, it's high on variety, smoothly produced, and never boring. Yeah, Aeverium talks big, but they also have the chops to back it up. And as for the categorization issue, who cares? It's good music, and in the end, good music doesn't really need any other categorization than that.