The Approbation by AVKRVSTRelease date: June 16, 2023
Label: InsideOut Music
When an up-and-coming band comes to my iPod touch for my earbuds to see whether it’ll move me or not, it comes to my decision to see how they did. Jeff Lynne once said, “Old music is the same as new music – it’s just a different way of delivering it.” It’s like “do you have it or don’t you have it?” don’t come up with any excuses, be reasonable and be honest with yourself.
And for a new band from Norway called AVKRVST, they have unleashed this massive storm from InsideOut Music with their debut album, The Approbation. Taking in admiration from King Crimson, Opeth, Porcupine Tree, Mew, and Anekdoten, AVKRVST’s origins started in childhood where Martin Utby and Simon Bergseth made a pact at the age of seven to form a band.
22 years later, they completed that pact, Alongside Martin on drums and Simon on guitars, bass, and vocals, the consists of Øystein Aadland on keyboards and bass, Edvard Seim on guitar, and Auver Gaaren on keyboards. Recorded at a small cabin in the Norwegian forest of Alvdal, The Approbation is a conceptual piece about a bleak soul who is left in his own thoughts, living inside a cabin being alone and isolated, moving away from civilisation, and accepting death.
All in all, there’s not a single bad track on this album. ‘Østerdalen’ opens up the acoustic guitar detailing the flash-forward scenery from what has happened before segueing to the introduction of how it all began with ‘The Pale Moon’. Occurring thunderous riffs, pounding bass drums, Mellotrons floating into view, and a midsection driving into the forests with some Porcupine Tree, floats into the heavens.
‘Isolation’ transforms into a Mahavishnu-sque attack that speaks volume in a fast-paced mega force between thrash metal and jazz fusion. It then switches gears to climb up the stairs and revealing the insanity that awaits the tragic hero.
And the troubles have only just begun. ‘The Great White River’ is where the hallucinations start coming into place. Just listen very carefully, you can hear the charge coming at full speed, tackling Rush’s ‘Cygnus X-1’ before the calming rain pours down outside the snowy cabins.
The snarling cookie-monster vocals come creeping at you as if Hyde is ready to embark on a killing spree before the moody suddenly changes into the dark, grey ‘Arcane Clouds’ approaching. Heavy bass work, ascending mellotrons, and alternative structures, the ghost is even more abusive to the man, haunting at his own extinct.
The Sabbath-like touches adds enough fuel to the fire by going into this clash of personality, bringing to mind a bit of Alice Cooper’s ‘Dead Babies’. Once ‘Anodyne’ goes into a Crimson-sque trance from the THRAK sessions, it shifts gears with the Hammond organ bringing forth the mighty gods of Uriah Heep, insane time changes, striking riffs, and clashing drums.
You feel as if Lois Lane in the DC Multiverse, going into a psychotic breakdown, taking revenge after the death of Superman. The acoustic guitars come out of the woodwork, owing more to Bowie’s Hunky Dory-era and McLaughlin-like arrangements, riding across the entire cabin as the clock starts to tick very rapidly.
Closing it out is the title-track where everything must come to an end. Clocking in at 13 minutes, it gives us a layered scenery over the aftermath from what has happened. But the ghost of the main character will the haunt the cabin like there’s no tomorrow. This ain’t no horror movie, nor The Walking Dead, this shit is real!
The guitars transform themselves into blood-thirsty monsters who protect the cabin with an iron fist. Those Mahavishnu Morse codes do come in handy to bring out the attack by eating massive tons of human flesh!
Once the rain pours, its time to bring in the strings, acoustic guitars, epic finales, and sun rising momentum for a brand new to day to begin. AVKRVST never disappointed me. They have climbed the tallest mountain, and have achieved that goal to start the beginning of a new chapter in the roaring ‘20s.