AVKRVST‘s debut album is stunning, heartfelt, and a complete delight for any progressive metal fan.

Release date: June 16, 2023 | InsideOut Music | Instagram | Website

When there’s a new band around that you want to check out, especially when it comes to the progressive metal scene, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to big, established bands. I don’t want to spark any ‘there’s no originality anymore’ debate, but let’s be real: when we listen to an artist for the first time, we immediately search for similarities to what we already know.

However, a lot of new bands just sound like soulless carbon copies of the bands they like, struggling to create anything with a proper identity to speak of. These clones can be fun to listen too if you enjoy the genre, but they’re not something you’re gonna go back to in a regular basis.  Thankfully, Norwegian newcomers AVKRVST are far from a soulless copy, and offer plenty for those looking for awesome and dynamic ‘traditional’ prog metal.

When you press play on their debut The Approbation, a few names instantly come to mind. The short opener “Østerdalen” really reminded me of Devin Townsend‘s acoustic moments, but just a few seconds into the first big, full track “The Pale Moon”, you can hear the band’s most obvious and direct influence: Opeth. Many bands try to emulate the Swedish giant’s gamechanging mix of big, heavy riffs with seamless melodic and acoustic passages, but few actually manage to make it sound as natural and organic as they do. AVKRVST delivers that in spades, with inspired songwriting that will appeal both to veterans of the genre and also to those looking for a breath of fresh air. “The Pale Moon” immediately showcases their potential and what AVKRVST is all about, pulling you in for the ride.

“Isolation” explores even more landscapes, starting with Mastodon-like riffs and then shifting to some instrumental playfulness that could give Haken a run for their money. “The Great White River” is a solid track that starts like a killer Leprous song, then transforms into something truly unique, with beautiful melodic verses and choruses that remind me of the best material Porcupine Tree and Oceansize ever produced. Every song brings something just a little bit different to the table, making for an incredibly well-rounded album that is diverse but very cohesive, feeling complete and satisfying. The title track is another huge standout: a bold, 13-minute epic that is already one of my favorite songs from this year. It features various elements that reminded me of Porcupine Tree‘s timeless Fear of a Blank Planet, and frankly, that is as high as praise can get.

In true prog fashion, this is also a concept album, presenting a story about a soul lost in its thoughts and isolated from the rest of the world. AVKRVST‘s music greatly supports this concept, transitioning between epic and introspective sounds with ease. It was also entirely written and recorded at a cabin in Norway, so you can say this concept is a little bit meta. Simon Bergset’s vocals are a high point as well, breathing life and emotion to every track and making it feel much more personal, if that makes sense.

AVKRVST may sound like the bands I mentioned, but they wove all of these influences into something that feels familiar and at the same time new and original. As a big prog fan, I was frankly getting a little tired of the scene these past few years, as a lot of it just seems to miss that certain something that makes music feel genuine and heartfelt. The Approbation has that something, and managed to revitalize my interest in the genre and remind me just how good traditional prog metal can be when performed with passion, creativity and interest. It’s an album that offers everything fans of the genre are looking for and should surely check it out.

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