Far, far away from the central hub of modern progressive rock music, there is located, in San Juan –Puerto Rico a surprisingingly fertile oasis of unbelievable musical talent. This is in the shape of 32 year old multi-instrumental musician Christian Ayala. Not that Puerto Rico is of course short of musical heritage with its deep history of classical Spanish influence but it is certainly not thought of as a contemporary focal point for anything musically related to progressive metal tinged rock. “Avandra” is the name of the project, a vehicle by which Christian has, single handedly showcased his compositional skills, lyrical ideas and prowess as a musician. The final conclusion of which is this resultant CD entitled “Tymora” (the subject of my review). All of the instrumental parts on the CD were played by Christian except for the drums which were conceived on a computer based music writing program and edited remotely by a friend with a special emphasis to humanise the resultant sound.
But changes are currently afoot because, as of June 2017 with six gig’s now in the bag, the currently solitary situation needs expanding into full band status in order to fulfil such obligations. Auditions are now ongoing to realize a final line up which is to comprise 2 guitarists, bass, drums, and keyboards. Christian, with fingers firmly crossed, has mentioned that some local progressive rock metal producers, have recently picked up on the album and have commented favorably, furthermore one of the sponsors for ProgPower has indicated that “Avandra” could well be considered for a spot on the ProgPower Festival 2018 which, if it comes to fruition, would be the first time a band from Puerto Rico has ever been included.
In general and over the full seven tracks the music sweeps in and around you from all angles with multitudes of deft time changes and variations of pace. After a few plays you realize that the building blocks that form the musical structure, of this project and which are key to the various compositional arrangements are the swathes of keyboards being utilized to provide a colourful melodic backdrop throughout. This keyboard platform in turn provides massive freedom for the guitars to scream and resonate with seemingly complex patterns of chord progression and individual note selections and which include lovely little forays into both the jazz and classical guitar worlds. Striking too are the many periods where the keyboards, particularly the piano, emerge to the fore with delightful melodious sequences that bridge between the various sections of music. Central to the overall sound there are many sequences of harder edged metal guitar riffing but such sections are really well thought out and are not over stretched or too contrived because just like magic they ingeniously slide nicely back to a more melodic footing. Christian’s guitar playing is magnificent in every respect with him employing the full range of tricks, flicks and techniques in fact quite a veritable masterclass of modern guitar applications. It has to be said that the vocals are very well arranged but are subject to extensive overdubbing to create the nice melodic harmonic arrangements and so more autonomy will prevail when a band situation is finally realized and additional backing vocals are on hand to provide a more natural support role.
Summary: A brilliant new band on the cusp of evolution from Puerto Rico.
Artwork: A nicely arranged CD booklet with tabulated lyrics.
The Purpose: Christian quotes that “Avandra was always kind of a vessel between concepts and imagery that have influenced me throughout my life, and their realization through a musical journey. That’s why I try to stray a bit from the uber-technical side of things, and concentrate much more on all the instruments working together to create ambient pieces that appeal to your emotional and reasonable sides”.
2. Threshold of Evolution.
3. Chimerical Visions.
6. Aima Matter.
7. Garden of Remembrance.