Avandra are back! After setting our world on fire last year with their astounding album Descender, the Puerto Rican quartet are revving up to release another album already. This is great, not only because this means new music, but also because I get to talk about something else for once. After all, this will be the fourth time I’ve written about them – I guess you can consider me a bit of a fan.
On November 20 of this year, the prog metal band will release Skylighting through their new label, Layered Reality Productions. If you, like me, are curious of the direction they’re going with this new effort, you don’t have to wait any longer as we have the great pleasure of premiering the first single and lyric video from the album. Take a listen (and a read), and meet me on the other side for some hard-hitting analysis and context.
It seems Avandra have chosen to retain their hefty, somber mood with this new project. This is great as it was a wonderful enhancer for their previous work, but for “Celestial Wreaths”, it becomes more poignant and timely as the band reflects on the casualties that this year has wrought. Though Christian Ayala’s lyrics are often philosophical, this track is a lot more direct without losing any of the magic, calling on us to ‘mend our societies‘ so that the loss of our family, friends, and peers are not in vain.
The second verse as a whole is condemning of our collective institutions failing to act on situations that have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths – an obvious mournful rumination on the coronavirus pandemic that has devastated us in a number of ways, but could be applied to many issues of (in)justice and societal well-being. This is all more pointed if you’ve been keeping track of how the greater United States has left Puerto Rico to fend for themselves for years after various disasters. These lines in particular stand out, ‘Sent to the ether soon/while plutocrats increase their boon/in a corporate welfare state‘. Short, sweet, uncomfortably on point.
The band’s instrumentation has not faltered a bit in the year-plus since their last release. “Celestial Wreaths” comes out of the gate with a hint of suspense wrapped up in a well-paced, spacey prog metal blaze. This is heightened by the liberal use of starry synths, apparently performed by the great Vikram Shankar throughout the album. An appropriate amount of urgency is present in the guitars’ quick performance, with a flourishing solo in the middle to boot. As a keen fan of Avandra, I see great familiarity in this song, but also a shift in approach that will surely satiate me and other fans of stellar prog metal. If you haven’t been paying attention to them, now’s the time, y’all.
Should go without saying that I can’t wait for Skylighting. Again, it arrives shortly on November 20 via Layered Reality Productions. Preorders go live on October 2 and will be available as a digipack CD in addition to digitally through your normal outlets, I’m sure. To keep up with all of that and much more, I invite you to give Avandra a like and follow on Facebook and Instagram respectively. Don’t hesitate to check out older material on their Bandcamp – it’s simply outstanding.