A cold and wintry wind blew in. Never mind the quiet start. Avast follow the tradition of their Norwegian forebears with brutal, violent black metal. But wait … the atmosphere changes and has the dreamier and majestic air of post rock without losing the black metal harshness. This is the title track, which gets this album under way. “Mother Culture” is described as a concept album, which addresses the potential for a global catastrophe and is based on Daniel Quinn’s philosophical novel “Ishmael”.

After the evolving explosive opening, Avast then concentrate on expanse with “The Myth”. Strangely as “Mother Culture” before it is climactic as we are reaching “The End”, “The Myth” also is like an epic ending which takes us into the horizon and beyond. Yet they are just the first two of six tracks. What about the other four? “Birth of Man” returns to powerful black metal as its form of expression before a brief pause for reflection, and the burning flames are rekindled. There is richness in the echoing guitar sound, a handy technique to remind us of the constant presence of a world beyond. From post metal, a classic heavy melody develops. This is seriously intense. I like the fact that each track leads into the next so Avast never loosen their grip and I never let go of this album as it blasts its way from passage to passage. “The World Belongs to Man” is another forceful piece of post black metal. It’s impossible to ignore. Much credit should go to the sound mixer here as it maintains a powerful pitch, a great help when presenting sweeping and majestic soundscapes as here. As if it isn’t powerful enough, “The World Belongs to Man” steps up another level before finishing. It’s just magnificent. I also very much liked the contrast of the lush tones of the solitary guitar which feature in this album, contrasting with the thrusting black metal. “An Earnest Desire” starts with a melancholic but imposing tune before expanding and building up in a post metal style, returning to the gloomy scene and then exploding and subjecting us to anger and fire while retaining always the essential musical thread. As “An Earnest Desire”, “Man Belongs to the World” is a substantial track in a substantial work. Wavering between fury and reflection, it is solid at the core while developing powerfully.

It’s clear that Avast understand structure and the profound impact that carefully built structures can have. “Mother Culture” has enormity but it is far from a big bash approach. The musical developments are engaging and easy to follow, and there is such an intelligent variation of atmospheres and intensity here.

(8.5/10 Andrew Doherty)