REVIEW: Avichi - Catharsis Absolute

Genre: Black Metal
Label: Profound Lore
Date of Release: January 21, 2014


Established in 2006 in Chicago, black metal project Avichi is headed by multi-instrumentalist Andrew "Aamonael" Markuszewski (Lord Mantis, ex-Nachtmystium). In 2014, its third full-length "Catharsis Absolute" would be unveiled in 2014.

This record definitely has a theatrical feel to it, but it flows well with the rawness that black metal often brings, especially here. The vocals and guitars in particular seem to emit this type of atmosphere, accompanied by some potent drumming to balance the music out. There is also some faint singing that fades in and out in the background, and that makes the formula even more effective than it already was. On top of that, this musicianship is molded into songs that are very distinct while still being tied together as one solid album, making for a rather compelling listening experience.

The record's production was carried out by Andrew Markuszewski himself, and it plays its role in the record exceptionally well. It captures the sheer rawness to draw out the music's black metal punch while lacing it with some Gothic-like vibes to make it sound even more cinematic. As a result, the album generates more atmosphere on top of its instrumentation and composition, so the mixing really works in its favor.

Something else that should be noted about this release is its use of other instrumental effects. The piano, chimes, and other elements accompany the music's theatrical aura incredibly well. A prime example of this can be shown with the record's best song named "Lightweaver." On top of it having a surprisingly grooved rhythm and a haunting atmosphere, the keyboard is integrated in a way that really adds to its raw power. The album is enhanced by these effects, but it's not dependent on them, like a good record should.

The only real issue with "Catharsis Absolute" would be its last track. While it's not necessarily bad, it is rather unneeded. It consists of a long piano interlude that builds up, presumably to close the album on an eerie passage. The problem, however, is that the record already got that point across; the previous songs already did a stellar job of creating a lot of dark ambiance, subtle or aggressive. This song does overstay its welcome, and could have at least been trimmed down a few minutes.

Nonetheless, "Catharsis Absolute" is a great specimen of black metal. From the stellar musicianship to the hauntingly beautiful atmosphere, Avichi has crafted an album with a lot of depth and power. Even though the final track is a bit tedious, it's in no way hampering the rest of the album's enjoyment. The record is still a great gateway for anyone just entering the black metal world, as well as anyone already drawn in by the genre. It's a fine compilation of well-crafted tracks that may very well find a spot in your disc collection.

Score: 8.5/10 (Great+)

Based on the sculpture shown on the album cover by Peter Kenar.