Every once in a while tracks on YouTube come by as suggestions that immediately attract. Without being familiar with Avant Guardian, I have to admit I was merely attracted to the innuendo and artwork, but upon playing I was immediately won by the band’s music. Their symphonic enhanced progressive metal is loaded with action and dense layers of musical perfection. Much like Dream Theater (WDADU) managed instantly lured me into their mega melodic prog world. Californian Avant Guardian is nothing like the NY prog-metallers, but explore their own sonic landscape and add a unique perspective on progressive metal.
I was baffled by the alluring qualities of this quintet finding it hard to determine their style and label it. Though I lean to gothic epic metal and symphonic metal, the band also whelms with progressive structures more often, without discarding attractive and luring melodies. Mega progressive pulling forward they switch styles and time changes frequently and throw off listeners with their power metal hooks, melodic guitar riffs and piano swirls, touching classical. Vocals are laid down in classic heavy metal (NWOBHM) style with echoing howls. ,,Outcry” packs energy and thunders forward with stride, and the following ,,Ode To The Fallen” is more varied with classical symphonic elements. Especially the piano sections are wonderful and infuse the track with diversity. Midway it suddenly wells with emotional guitar and keyboard interaction and the song intensifies. ,,Reincarnation” starts with eluding piano and pompous tasteful cinematic keys picking up towards its progressive outburst. The song instrumentally flowers with creativity and impressive interaction. There are bits and pieces of classic Angra and Dream Theater’s slick melodies and variety implemented, but the overhaul is bombastic and epic. It oozes comfort endured in the opening of ,,The Letter Lives On” which is brought to live with intense (MacAlpine-ish) melodies and riffs. Slowly it adds layers and the density is intense. The song feels linked directly with ,,Ode To The Fallen”. Odd time signatures switch with comfortable and pleasant melodies full of towering grandeur. It is intense and driven, and evolves with jazzy progression in its instrumental mid section drawing from WatchTower’s Jarzombek staccato fretboard picking and Holdsworth’s old school jazz-prog playing. Overall it maintains its persistent pompous power making it a perfect show closer.
AvantGuardian apparently released a full-length album in 2016 already, which I will definitely check out as well. This new `Insurgency’ EP is an impressive piece of art and, though not entirely original, it displays great potential and craftsmanship. Definitely one to watch and most importantly: an album to listen to!