One-man projects have always been – I am aiming at their often multi-faceted music approach – an unusual specimen on the music scene, not only in Metal. Actually even those pigeonholed under the label of “hard and heavy” do not avoid incorporating more or less exotic themes to their music. In case of KALKI AVATARA originating from the Apennine peninsula this exoticism can be seen already in the title of their fresh EP. “Mantra For The End Of Times” is a small collection of four compositions inspired by oriental mysticism and philosophy.
Paolo Pieri, who is also one of the men behind ABORYM, shows his artistic skills putting a stress on the use of synthesizers. This instrument’s passages are doubtlessly the thing that gives the album its own nature. Being inspired to a considerable extent by classical music they form sound combinations of very explicit and not infrequently aggressive character. However, contrary to the majority of symphonic songs, KALKI AVATARA stuff does not become that spacious because of this fact. Additionally, the sound of this section is much influenced by traditional music from the orient countries, which infuses it with experimental touch.
The guitars in turn, which most of the time are somewhere in the back, try to appeal to Metal fans with their sound balancing on the border between – perhaps it sounds weird – Black and Heavy Metal. Their main task is, regrettably, to be serving as fillers so you can forget about any remarkable solos or attention-grabbing riffs.
Analogically to the diversified instrument menu (courtesy of the synths as indicated above) also in the vocal field one can find something more than just one type of singing. Apart from the frequently appearing combination of Black and Death screams, the listener is offered some choral performance flavoured either by classic or more oriental feeling dependably on the way the keys are used (and again you can see that the role of the keys is an important factor here). Talking of the exotic elements – the second track called “Ruins Of Kali Yuga” opens with a sound of some kind of drums, bells and pipes suiting most appropriately the Indian associations connected to the title. A nice surprise appears later in that track in the form of a jazz-influenced fragment, which though could have been made a bit longer and developed into a bigger motif. The third effort on this EP seems to be the most mature one as its catchy moments include some of the strongest guitar work and pretty enjoyable epic soul (synths, delicate choirs, neo-classical arrangements), which makes it even close to some pieces from the Swedes of THERION. Not surprisingly, though, the production in this case is of a somewhat poorer quality, lacking in both dynamism and nicely polished massive sound.
“Mantra For The End Of Times” is a proof of its creator’s ability to make interesting music but on the other hand you can see that Paolo Pieri has not fully taken advantage of this potential. There are some moments of good playing here, yet on the whole this stuff does not have this special “something” that makes you stay with it for a long time. Hopefully the song-writing (especially the guitar parts) plus the production will get better so that the traces of Pieri’s skills can be noticed all the way through his coming full-length effort.
(Online March 2, 2009)