Review Summary: Meaning emerges from the abyss.
Averse Sefira’s 2008 album is one that shows a side to black metal rarely explored by other artists. Despite having put out their first demo, Blasphomet Sin Abset
, in 1997, they have in nearly twelve years now only produced four studio albums. In many cases, such an idiosyncratic paucity of output may be a sign of break-ups, putting the band on hold, or what have you. However, these are not problems with which Averse Sefira has been plagued, and thus it shows something else – namely, that they pay a lot of attention to what they are composing, instead of churning out an endless stream of nearly identical releases for their fans to eat up every year or two.
This work in particular stands out from the rest of their discography. Their previous release, Tetragrammatical Astygmata
, was up to that point easily the best work they’ve done. Advent Parallax
, however, uses some of the themes explored in that album to build up its own message.
If there is a summarization needed for this album, it would be in two words: dichotomy and universality. Furthermore, the album as a whole is a tribute to the interplay of the two. The lyrics of the band address these issues directly(albeit through the use of obdurately esoteric verbiage), and it is reflected in the album’s title itself; but the work’s real genius lies in its ability to meld musical expression with those lyrical themes.
Before delving into just how they accomplish this, it is perhaps best to give a brief description of the album’s style. When compared to the rest of their discography, this music melds the melodic black metal wanderlust of their early works with the chromatic death metal urgency of their two previous works. In terms of influences, one can hear heavy similarities to early Immortal and Morbid Angel(which has always been part of Averse Sefira’s sound), but restructured to approximate the heavily narrative forms espoused by Graveland, without devolving into sounding one-dimensionally heroic(i.e., without sounding like a film soundtrack).
There also appears to be a pattern in the organization of the songs on the album. The first four possess riffs that sound almost like anthems, highly ceremonious and dictating. The last four, on the other hand, sound like monuments to various ideas, associated with narrative forms to possess a more dramatic feel. Averse Sefira’s strongest ability is in the technicality of these compositions; talent is displayed in construction as opposed to instrumental ability. In fact, the band’s individual riffs are unexceptional. Wandering between mostly two-chord riffs that best recall Immolation, and rising central choruses that best recall Antaeus or Krieg, Averse Sefira throws in musical ideas en masse
, then filters them out using numerous iterations, each of which is related to a separate theoretical digression This acts as a sieve, sifting out everything anecdotal so that eventually only a dominant theme remains for each song.
They use moderately dissonant chords and patterns juxtaposed in such a way that they bleed together in a bizarre form of harmonization. This leads to “para-melody”, in a manner similar to the emergence of an arpeggio’s implication of a chord. Riffs are based on simplistic chord changes which, through that sifting process, leave patterns of implication which then construct melodies in the listener’s consciousness, as opposed to simply making pretty melodies and demanding the listener accept them. This emphasizes the beauty found in ugliness, the order found in abstraction, the knowledge found in mysticism. Recalling Brahms and Emperor, each song culminates with a formative staccato, the buildup giving new meaning to what would otherwise seem irrelevant: a return to those basic forms from which the implied melodies emerged.
These musical traits lead to several interpretations. The first is that simplicity gives birth to complexity, which is in turn simplistic in distillation, with the two thus cycling endlessly. Averse Sefira uses riffs to elucidate a narrative which fails to stop at expressing a single idea, but instead indicates a whole that is more than the sum of its parts. This creates an epression of zeitgeist
in each song, and as with any “spirit of the times”, these statements comprise more than a singular mood or attitude; each song wanders between rage, acceptance, obstacles, peace, journey, loss, and conquest. The dichotomy of complexity/simplicity parallels similar ones found in life between reality and perception.
The songs’ extremely angular, multi-faceted composition leads to visions of nature as-it-is, sans
the filtration inherent to human perception. This is accomplished by using a human approach(i.e. filter) to objectify the subjective. In other words, remove all that which is objective, see what is left, and work in opposition to it – leading to a “para-discovery” of what is objective.
As can be noted by even a cursory glance at the lyrics, this band expresses their ideas through subtext as opposed to direct lyrical advocations. This mirrors and reinforces the musical construction, as described above. More notably, it also mirrors the relationship between human perception and truth – which is rarely(if ever) made through objectivism.
This results in the creation of a meta-theme: the search for truth through a combination of methods that, when operating on their own, work in opposition to it. The dichotomies of the universe are thus expressed through lyrics dripping with subtext, via metaphors on battle, might, destiny, journey, etc.
These methods lead to what appears to be several definite effects. Melodies are constructed in a manner that makes them seem both deeply familiar and disturbingly obscure at the same time, recalling the sensation of deja-vu
, leaving the listener unsure as to whether he’s heard them before or if it is simply the fact that they are implied, instead of stated directly, that gives them that additional aura. Doing this, Averse Sefira’s music forms a bridge between that which is known and that which is not, placing the obvious in places of the mind where the obscure normally resides, and vice-versa. In this way, a message is conveyed: the journey towards the transcendent(reality) is not only made through the experience of the mundane(human-ness), but in fact can ONLY be made through that experience.
Mirroring the construction of the songs themselves, this message is nothing more than a restatement of the initial primary themes with new knowledge gained via the search for that message – i.e., “a return to those basic forms.” Truth is to be sought; paradoxically, it will never be achieved – the journey is what matters. Dichotomies are universal and to be embraced; unity emerges in the opposition between them, as an attractive magnetic reaction only emerges between two opposing sources brought in proximity to each other. Thus, truth only emerges from war, and stagnation is the only evil. Neither conflict nor unity is the goal; they are two sides of the same universal coin.