Label: Rockshots Records
Genre: Prog Metal, Power Metal
Release Date: January 21st, 2022
For Fans Of: Vision Divine, Dream Theater, Dark Tranquility
Prog metal, popularized and redefined by a few ambitious groups in each decade, goes through a repeating cycle of rebirth, synthesis, and complacency. A revolutionary band like Dream Theater, Tool, or Opeth will add something new to the form that acts as a functional status quo until another such group comes along and changes it once more. During the time in between, musicians inspired by these pioneers create works within the spectrum of that established approach, all of it categorized as prog, despite now following a well-molded template. The result is that a lot of “prog” music makes itself part of the progressive family not through innovation but style.
Beriedir have not claimed to be revolutionaries of the prog genre, and it would be unfair to judge them against such a standard, but they certainly have made their home inside a stylistic arena that was built by great prog bands like Fates Warning and Haken–in fact, much of the time I listened to AQVA, I suspected that I would hear something similar if I forced an artificial intelligence listen to 1,000 hours of the topline prog and power metal bands and use an algorithm to generate a mean compound of all those sounds. For fans of the specific style, it is likely a great pleasure. For fans of the strangeness and adventure that those bands declare with their music, AQVA may serve as little more than a diversion.
Where Beriedir succeeded on this, their second album, is in craftsmanship–there is nothing jarring or sloppy about the record, just tight performances in a tight recording, wrapped up in a tight mix. The musicianship is professional but lacks the show-off quality that the best power, prog, and melodic metal bands have. There are no jaw-dropping moments that make you wonder, “did they really just play that?”
The synthesizer/keyboard section does a lot of heavy lifting in the songwriting–in fact, most of the songs on AQVA follow a similar structure, opening with a dancing keyboard melody, accompanied by energetic riffing and drumming, leading to verses and choruses sung forte, and returning to the intro structure for breaks. Energy is really one of the strong points of the album, and it never feels like it’s dragging or suffering from lethargy. The other edge of the sword is that it lacks dynamics, moments of contrast and building tension. We hear the musicians usually only in one gear, which is a detriment especially on the vocal side. The melodies are sung well, and they are precise, but like the rest of the instrumentation and the songs themselves, they lack depth and variety of emotion and expression.
Beriedir’s goal (one of them) with AQVA was to explore and expand on themes of water. I would consider the observation a partial success, maybe because of the glassy tones in the keyboards, the longing openness of the lyrics, or the tireless momentum of riffing like crashing waves, but there’s also much that remains unexplored, like crystalline stillness and haunting, amorphous depth. The few moments of tenderness and sonic diversity make up parts of the album’s strongest songs. Occasional sequences of fervent musical ambition, as heard in the rhythmic changes on “Departure Song” and “Rain,” and the rich harmonic color of “The Drowned” act as the most powerful ties to greatness for Beriedir, but as few as they are, they cannot push AQVA out of well-crafted genre fare. The result is neither weak nor special; it’s something fans of the style will embrace, but for those looking for a landmark release in an ever-growing sea of content, it may be just another short stop on the way.
- At Candle Light
- Departure Song
- The Dove and the Serpent
- The Angel in the Lighthouse
- The Drowned
- Of Dew and Frost
- Moonlight Requiem
Total Playing Time: 57:31
Connor loves puppies and death metal but prefers death metal. He has degrees in Commercial Music and Art & Design, both from Utah Valley University.