Aviations - Luminaria

Simply put, Luminaria is a joy and an album I foresee myself playing a whole lot before the year is out.

9 months ago

Listening to Aviations has become like listening to an old, but distant, friend for me. The band can't really be called prolific (though we've waited less for this new album, for sure) but whatever they do release seems uniquely engineered to thrill me. This is mostly because, as I've said on the blog before, I miss progressive metal that is encumbered by the pretense and pathos that infect so much of the genre these days. Aviations have crafted a space for themselves by creating intricate and complex metal that still manages to be earnest, bright, and personal. Luminaria is no different and perhaps even more emotive and impactful than previous release; it's a joy of an album, showcasing a mature band that is very confident in their sound and their direction as a group of musicians.

The first thing that jumps out of Luminaria is the production. Aviations have always mixed their music loud but the volume is not where that stops on this release; everything, from the warm piano tones, through the present drums, and the forward vocals screams brightness. This is worthy of mention especially in a progressive metal album, a genre which tends to be mixed incredibly focused on guitars. Here, the guitars are definitly audible (as they should be) but they are one voice in the choir; their sound blends expertly well with everything else that's happening, the instrumentation working as a cohort to drive the theme of each track home.

And that's a great thing but the compositions on this album are simply masterful. "Cradle", the first "proper" track on the album, is probably the best example. There's a lot happening but just zoom on through to right after the middle of the passage and here the absolutely wonderful interactions between bass, drums, and piano. Whether the heavier, more epic passages or the intimate connective tissue that runs between them, Aviations are in rare form here, creating a soaring motif that comes to beautiful culmination near the track's end. By the way, that aforementioned bass crafted by Werner Erkelens is not to be overlooked; it's the underpinning of some of the album's best moments.

Here also shines one of the most underrated parts that makes Aviations so good: Adam Benjamin's vocals. I have always loved his singing but he sounds more confident and fleshed out than ever on Luminaria. His warm timbre and capacity both for "small", intimate moments and grandiose, soaring segments (where they blend extremely well with a soaring pickup in the instrumentation of course) is simply brilliant on this release. If you want another good example, just skip to the next track, "Safehouse", and here the many parts his vocals play on it. There are even screams well delivered later on in the album!

Put all of this together and wrap it up with the production I mentioned earlier (plus, of course, the masterful drumming of friend-of-the-blog James Knoerl) and you have yourself what is 2023's best progressive metal release. It is rich and complex to be sure but mostly incredibly communicative and impactful, continuing Aviations' tradition of insisting on feel amidst their technical proficiency. Simply put, Luminaria is a joy and an album I foresee myself playing a whole lot before the year is out.

Luminaria was released today, September 1st 2023. Go grab it via the band's Bandcamp above!

Eden Kupermintz

Published 9 months ago