Now into their second decade together, Aussie space cadets Aver have released two albums which, while not setting the world alight, has gained them a devoted core following known as Avernauts. Undoubtedly they’ll be looking for third album Orbis Majora (Ripple Music) to enhance that population and cement a reputation as masters of heavy-riffing invention.
Opening track ‘Feeding The Sun’ immediately shows the bravery and technical ability of the band: eastern chords and moaning violins dancing across delicate and dextrous drums, before a Progressive explosion blends The Beatles with the sunnier elements of Reef and the chunky rhythms of Karnivool. The leadwork is dazzling, while mid-section switches in pace are so effortless as to be organic. Melodies flick from moody and melancholy to electrifying as the riff returns, with the whole a story in fluctuating emotions.
The ensuing ‘Disorder’ coats a delightfully syncopated drumbeat with throaty, jangling riffs in a modern Western-style setting, a rustic production giving the lead twangs a delicious fizz. The chorus rips while maintaining a sinister canter, leading into a blistering second movement with Burdt’s voice coming across all Uncle Acid.
At nearly six and a half minutes long, ‘The Last Goat Out Of Pompeii’ is the shortest track here, but its brooding, intertwining strings rise to harsh dramatics with that production adding extra hostility. It sets the scene nicely for ‘Unanswered Prayers’, a thirteen-minute monster which gradually develops from a slow, eerie growl into a rhythmless wall of sound: when those rhythms finally do kick in it’s with a Jazzy intricacy rather than the explosion one would expect. As with disjointed, Bar-room Verve-esque closer ‘Hemp Fandango’, however, Burdt’s throaty, clean vocal doesn’t really fit the majestic music surrounding it, seeming somewhat limited in range, and thankfully it’s the music that rules most of the last two tracks.
Orbis Majora is an enigma wrapped in a bloody great riddle. Its wondrous aspects beguile the mind whilst its meandering segments and vocal input leave something to be desired. There’s a marvellous album here which nevertheless struggles to shake its flaws, and it’ll be interesting to see what might happen if Aver find some cohesion before their next release.
6 / 10