Orchestral death doom isn't exactly an especially 'hip' genre these days. While there a few genre mainstays, it hasn't been much of a fertile breeding ground for bands for a little while now. That being said – it allows for some interesting ideas to be explored and developed in the genres unique soundworld. There is a certain sublime quality to the tracks that Rise Of Avernus present here, tying into their larger than life mystique. One need look no further than a song like 'Eigenlicht' to see how these Australians marry their sense of bombast with more heavy hitting metal grooves to create something that, while very appealing to the underground, also has enough prettiness to attract a more mainstream crowd. It's interesting to get to sink your teeth into music with balls that could still hit a demographic unlikely to ever dig into the works of someone like Tiamat or Amorphis. It makes Eigengrau into a strangely reassuring bridge, a record we can't help but to be mesmerized by and which fascinates the listener.
There is a devilish appeal to this record, largely because I think that it fuses what brings a lot of us into metal, that is to say the less abrasive sounds of symphonic and doom metal and enhances them with the sort of transcendent and overarchingly powerful, if slightly alienating music that the more twisted side of the genre has to offer. That being said, I frequently feel like the record doesn't sound big enough. The guitars at times feel a bit thin and it's hard to really want to delve into tracks which are so clearly striving for a wall of sound and yet which miss the mark consistently. For any symphonic metal record, the crux is to get a sound that you can feel like you are swimming in. This record doesn't quite get that, and while the songwriting is fairly strong it's hard to really want to come back to it. Tied into that is the simple fact that some of these songs are just a little bit too long, once again making it a little challenging to really dig into.
When it comes down to it, Rise Of Avernus have a lot of the bases of the genre covered. They have great ideas, they are clearly well versed in their musical ancestors and they are bringing something fresh to the table. That being said, until they really develop the quality of the production and balance out some of their song structures they are going to still feel like a local band. I'm very curious to see this group develop though because they are tilling fertile musical soil. They have a sound that is broadly accessible and which incorporates notions that I didn't think were even being used in metal in 2018. Eigengrau is the sort of release that makes you reflect deeper on the potential of the genre and reminds us why this type of music is so hard to execute. On the right track, and with a ton of potential, I'm very interested to see this band grow.