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Avial are a rock band HQ-ed in Kerala, India. My first exposure to the band was a couple of years ago when they put out this cheesy but fun video of this song called Nada Nada. Musically, it was decently done but it had too much of those jumpy modern metal shit going on. They did finally put out the album earlier this year, and a few things have seemingly been check-listed and improved here. And that's immediately apparent with their new take on Nada Nada. Though still modern, things have become more proggy with a lot of Alex Lifeson influenced rhythm playing and the grooves reminding one of Porcupine Tree's. These two would be the most noticeable, obvious and repeating influences throughout this album. Add to it, the awesome running bass lines take this to a level the previous version only dreamt of reaching. While the rejuvenated Nada Nada was a good start, Chekele followed it and kicked things up a notch. This was bound to be great if they kept the quality at this level over the course of the album.
I'm not Malayalee enough to give you the details, but these are a bunch of uber-profound poems and traditional folk songs that these guys have arranged and performed. The vocals are handled mainly by Anandraj Benjamin Paul, who for a change is not trying to sound anything like Yesudas unlike the rest of the singers from the state. He's got the rough and screamy rock n roll voice which suits the folk sound incredibly well on the heavy moments and equally great on the softer moments with layered harmonies. Tony John provides some of the monotone vocals apart from providing noises, synths and those turntable sounds, and Aparnashree guest sings and shines on Karukara and Aadu Pambe, though her voice is too processed. It would be my only gripe of this otherwise world class effort.
Rex's guitar playing here is something else. He plays a lot of clean, acoustic guitars and even a banjo/mandolin/lute sounding thing on Aadu Pambe, to complement the intelligent overdriven busy rhythms which always seem to borrow a thing or two from Alex Lifeson's voicings. Things do take a jazzy turn occasionally and they're done without sounding contrived. He should've taken more traditional ripping solos, but he does take a few spots where he'd play something rhythmic and add to the melody. His clean solos are pretty kick ass so I don't know why I'm even complaining. But rest assured, this is a completely guitar driven album.
I'd say Naresh Kamath's bass playing alone is worth getting this album, because the grooves he churns out are completely phenomenal. And he knows when to lay low and when to sneak in a cool lick or two, not to mention he sounds fucking great thus adding a whole new dimension to this already great sound. Check out his awesome solo towards the end of Karukara especially.
Mithun, the drummer lays down straight grooves locking with the bass player and keeps it simple and subtle to my relief. If he'd played any more than this, one, he would've cluttered things up and two, it wouldn't have been accessible to the borderline music fans that seem to have taken quite a liking to this album.
I have my favourites that I'd pick, but I have genuinely grown to love the album as a whole, and I'd easily put my money on this for the best thing that Indian Rock has produced till date. Great progressive musicianship with an amazing sense of melody and groove, awesome sound, solid production and the CD comes in a nicely done package. Like Sachin once said famously in his ever-prepubescent voice, Go Get It.
Label: Phat Phish Records
Year of Release: 2008
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Discuss (3 posts)
Re:Avial - S/T
Jun 02 2008 12:41:19
Cool review. Liked the songs but the whole prog thing generally leaves me a bit cold. Still, definately one of the better things to come out of the whole GIR thing and music that's actually good and not just good by Indian rock standards.
Re:Avial - S/T
Jun 04 2008 13:24:03
Been listening to a couple of songs from them - Karukara and Nada Nada a lot.. They're very impressive.
Re:Avial - S/T
Jun 05 2008 00:27:49
I think I'll message them once my review load is manageable and get an interview done.