Phavian – Meridian I

As I learned from this band’s EP ‘Foreword’, Phavian are planning on a major four album concept piece. Considering that this band is still fairly new to the scene and listeners’ ears, this is quite a bold statement, and even moreso to have released songs on that EP that are supposedly from albums that will tentatively be released a year or more away. The only question now is: can Phavian live up to their promises? ‘Meridian I’ is the first of this four part series, and the second album altogether to be released by the American group. Playing a style of melodic metal clearly influenced by Opeth, Phavian demonstrated some strong potential on ‘Foreword’, and the first album in the series continues to impress me.

Phavian’s sound is still rough around the edges, but they manage to evade many stereotypes of progressive metal. The darkly melodies sounds of latter-era Katatonia come to mind here, although the female vocals of Elizabeth Matson seem to gear Phavian to an almost symphonic metal sound. As far as the influence of Opeth goes, it comes out most evidently in the guitar work. The climax ‘Feldgrau’ (which I first heard as a sample on ‘Foreword’) has a guitar sound and central riff that sounds like it could have been right out of Mikael Akerfeldt’s songbook. The guitar solos throughout the album- particularly the one on the fourth track ‘Tyrian’- are also very Opeth-like. Many of the riffs are quite beautiful, taking a lot of sound from doom metal. The only thing that seems to be keeping Phavian’s melodies from leaping out of the speakers is the fact that the production is a little dull. The songwriting and musicianship is here, but the production and mixing sees the vocal work dominate over all other instruments. ‘Meridian I’ has many moments that would have blown me away, had I been able to hear them the way I think they would have been best mixed. Fear not, however; Phavian’s composition is enough to keep a listener invested throughout.

Elizabeth Matson’s vocals are not technically wild like many female metal vocalists’ are, but she has a quasi operatic tone to her voice that compliments the music. Although hearing female vocals mixed with Opethian instrumentation is a somewhat recent trend to my ears, there are bands out there doing the same match-up; Effloresce comes to mind. At this point, ‘Meridian I’ is not enough to see if Phavian stands out from the rest, but it’s enough for me to be impressed, and recommend them to any fan of dark metal.


1. Slate (5:28)
2. Cobalt and Crimson (8:14)
3. Stil de Grain (5:12)
4. Tyrian (10:01)
5. Feldgrau (5:36)
6. Obsidian (2:58)


* Elizabeth Matson – vocals, keyboards
* Puyan Hassani – guitars
* Jason Lobell – bass
* Patrick Hassani – drums, keyboards


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