Blimey how time flies, was it really 4 years ago that Ava Inferi made the surprise decision to bow out at seemingly the top of their game? It would appear so and after 4 excellent albums it was certainly a loss to their fans if not for them as they made the statement that the group had run its course and they needed “to break out and get the joy and inspiration back into our music.” There was talk about a new project emerging from the principle cast within Ave Inferi and now finally Rune Eriksen and Carmen Susana Simões are musically back together. Do not go expecting more of the same though, Earth Electric have a different charge entirely from the more gothic and ethereal flow of Ava Inferi. In fact pressing play the first time here and not knowing quite what to expect Vol1: Solar came as quite a big surprise and I’m pleased to say one that swiftly turned to delight. Having plugged into the album a lot over the last week or so and felt the songs energize me (and that’s quite enough power puns) it’s like having an old friend back after they have done some serious thinking and decided to turn their life completely around. I guess that was the goal here too, so job done in this respect.
Having fleshed ideas out with members of Dragonforce and Doro’s band the group took on new players to formulate their debut. I noticed one of them is from Portuguese grind group Grog who are also being reviewed by another writer at this moment and a drummer from Jibóia and Papaya. One of the most notable elements within their sound though is due to the addition of English keyboard player Daniel Knight from the group Messenger and he could well provide clues that determine the heavily progressive style of this new group. Yep this is very “prog” within a framework of some classic rock greats but don’t let that necessarily put you off. It’s quickly evident that this is not self-indulgent prog allowed to take off, waft and meander All over the place, it’s punchy and hard-hitting stuff with a real spark and immediacy about it. Songs are short and fiery, with an average playing time of around the 4 minute mark.
‘Mountains & Conquerors’ weighs in with drums bouncing and heavy melodic keys taking you right back to the 70’s but there’s a snarly jagged snare like tension from the guitars illustrating the urgency about it all. That voice sweeps in like it’s never been away, Carmen’s tones instantly identifiable and we are literally taking in a smorgasbord of delights as the song twists and turns away finishing all too quickly after just a few minutes but already leaving a crater sized mark. I get the impression this would be great drive time music as we fork off down ‘The Endless Road.’ The vocals have that siren call about them and are completely enchanting the musicianship with plenty of throttle about it travelling on a well- controlled path not without serious flourishes of drama from the atmospheric and at times pompous sounding retro keyboards. There’s a real classic sound to things that as defined in the PR blurb should drag Deep Purple fans kicking into the modern age. Drums crunch, crash and bristle into the upbeat, fast and furious ‘Meditate, Mediate’ which sees things getting frantic before mellowing completely as the vocals wash over things. The two atmospheres combine together perfectly as a guitar solo fragrantly spirals away.
There are a couple of tracks such as ‘The Great Vast’ that engage with gloomy guitar lines that are reminiscent of Rune’s previous long-running time with Mayhem. They send shivers down the spine before the music moves in an entirely different direction. Wispy organ sounding tones stalk around with the guitar cadence stabbing slowly like something out of an Italian horror film but just as the killer is about to strike it downs tools and the dramatic ‘Set Sail (Towards The Sun)’ chorally takes into a sudden short frantic cavalcade full of drama. Here the vocals reach a near operatic yet graceful peak along with the clamouring keyboards and although only a couple of minutes there’s a massive sound about it paving the way perfectly into the title track. Nirvana is hit with everything flowing along in a seamless fashion, vocals like sweet birdsong and the players literally jousting off each other in a totally natural and organic way. Obviously by this point I am envisaging the prospect of seeing the band co-ordinating this live, it’s taken them four years to get this far and I am sure the hunger is there. I’m willing to wait patiently and can see them fitting in nicely with a whole host of artists from small to large on tour. Festivals like the sadly missed High Voltage or even Rambling Man would be perfect to be honest. It’s been a journey for some of the band members that’s for sure and I can’t be the only one making comparisons as one of them who has gone from playing ‘Freezing Moon’ to a ‘Sabbatical’ one. There is a slight surprise at the end of this album in the form of ‘Sweet Soul Gathering.’ It sounds like it could well be an old traditional hymnal or a song from the times of slavery day and I hate to mention Zeal And Ardor especially as they have a legacy that goes back to a myriad of older artists but… yeah it kind of is quite reminiscent.
So a cracking debut and hopefully this will be a band with a bright future ahead of them. I’m already looking forward to Vol 2!
(8.5/10 Pete Woods)