Gavran: Still Unavailing

Having previously introduced it with Uska, a nine-minute piece of post metal massiveness and superiority, Dutch band, Gavran, release their debut album, Still Unavailing, which by all means is no less impressive.

Composed of four lengthy compositions, all named with intriguing single-word titles, the album bears resemblance to the doom/sludge metal grandness of bands like YOB and Ufomammut, while the darker artcore character of their sound and their existential themes and properties hint to the heavy-hearted weight of Amenra, the despair of Thou and the sonic assault of Cult of Luna. Evidently the strong influence of genre all-time greats, Neurosis and Isis, is constantly at play, in addition to the stoner metal muddiness which brings to mind Sleep and Bongzilla.

Despite the extensive mentioning of all these heavy hitters, there is not a single moment in Gavran's first full length that feels derivative or dull. On the contrary, the band seem more than able to combine melody with extremity and they deliver with consummate skill what feels like a momentous release for them which can easily stand next to the highest peaks of sludge and post metal.

Growling vocals and immense instrumentals come together through a piercing style of production by Tim de Gieter, and form an eclectic twister of strong emotions and impressions. Opener Mjera, the seven and a half-minute piece of riff-heavy stoner rocking charge which happens to be the album's shortest track, hits hard from the very start before it curves into a beguiling gothic chant for the discontented, only to snap back into full on ferocious mode for its climax. The tense highlight Uska is followed by the epic punk severity of Novo which curiously verges on black metal, while the majestic closer, Kravata, dazzles on two levels and in two parts: in a slow burning, tension-building and grimy manner for the first seven minutes, and hauntingly for the remaining six, closing the record on a high note.

"The main theme of the album is time, existence and life and death," the band remark. "It’s about realizing that these things only move forward and that you do not have control all the time. That there are good moments on one hand, but dark alleyways may follow or already have been followed on the other. It’s about the fact that you may lose or already have lost loved ones and realizing that someday your own existence will end too."

"Mercilessly it moves in one direction," Gavran gracefully describe the new album. "Its path laid with triumph, but also congested with doubts and loss as it goes, with one absolute certainty somewhere along the way: all things culminate."

Cover art by Noor van Rooyen

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