Review: Loya – Aimovoria

a1818999082_16Written by Brett Kihlmire

Releasing at the tail end of 2016, Loya’s Aimovoria is a different slice of heavy metal. Featuring a strong emphasis on clean vocals and artsy flare, this one is a real head turner, whether that’s for a good reason or a bad one depends on your personal tastes, so let’s dive in.

‘Crimson’ is heavy on the atmosphere with the synths providing a movie-like quality to the album. Driven by the rhythmic tapping of the cymbals and the bass guitar with some quick plucks of the guitar creeping it, this one draws you in well before the wailing vocals began. About two minutes in the song turns on its head with heavy riffing and snarling whispers. Things revert back slightly with the return of the clean vocals. There’s really a strong nu metal meets industrial sound at play.

‘Vitaly’ starts off a bit like ‘Crimson’ with picking of the guitar strings that create a hypnotic, almost sullen character as droning synths wash through the background. A little shy of two minutes the drums kick in while everything else stays the same. The sullen feel is lost with the introduction of the drums, but the guitar is as intoxicating as ever. And while I was waiting for the synths to blow up in my ears, the track stays mild until a wailing lead guitar and raspy riffs some time after the third minute. Things take a turn for straight metal close to the fourth minute, but the core character is never lost.

‘Void’ picks up right up where ‘Vitaly’ left off. There’s a fast strumming of the guitar for a few seconds before metallic, almost dubstep-like synths take command for a bit. A raspy vocal approach is taken as the drums strike a slow but hard beat and the clean guitars this album is becoming known for rock things along. And though this one sounded a bit like its immediate predecessor the charging and oh so technical riffing really shakes things up about a minute and a half in.

‘Chrysanthemum’ is another one that’s heavy on the atmosphere. Nathan Johnson wastes no time getting his vocals into this tune, which is a great thing. He has a passionate, almost folkish tone to his voice that fits the atmospheric nature of this album quite well. I will say, however, that the drum machine used in place of a regular drum kit kind of throws this one off. Fortunately, a “normal” blast of drum beats does make appearance, though it backs off in favor of the machine.  As for the rest of the song, this one struggled to keep my attention. It’s not a bad song, but I found my mind wandering off. Something seemed to be missing.

‘Glitch Killer’ is the middle point of the album, but had I not been watching the tracks go by as I wrote this review I might not have realized we were that far. At this point I’m starting to see the shortcomings of the album; the biggest being the simplistic nature of many of the songs. Johnson has a great voice, but there’s a lack of variety up to this point; the same can be said of the guitar. I get that Loya is going for a relaxed, artistic experience, but a little variety goes a long way in avoiding having the music blend together.

Kicking off with synths that give me a vision of flowing electricity ‘Decayer’ starts off in an interesting way. Johnson’s wailing vocal style continues on this one, but the hip-hop style beat shifts things around enough to recapture my attention. And just when I thought that I might start to fade out again things get real heavy and technical. Even the vocals switch it up by hitting a little higher on the scale. What I really like about this one is the chugging riffs with the haunting leads in the background.

‘Decayer’ was certainly a turning point for the better, and ‘Artifice’ continues the march toward variety with a wailing riff, a robotic beat, and echoing leads. Johnson gives a little more oomph to his vocal performance here as well. However, what I find myself lusting for at this point is a faster tempo. Up to this point the album is a little slow.

Loya shakes things up again, this time with ‘Artifact.’ The shaky synths give an interesting, almost alien vibe as the clean guitars and wailing vocals return for more. This one has a bit more of an epic feel that sets it apart from the others, but it never goes full blown epic. The heavy sections make up for this slightly, but still I wait for a bit more speed and perhaps some high notes.

‘Blood Lust’ just about scratches that long suffered itch. Though it starts off slow and atmospheric like all the others it brings to the table something seldom heard on this album –aggression. With a strong djent style complete with squealing guitars and shrieking vocals, the song suddenly transforms into a whole new beast. There’s a heavy industrial feel in the guitars and the melodic style of the vocals really hit home. In fact, I feel that Johnson really pushes himself hard on this one. This is probably the best tune on the album.

Echoing riffs and a short burst of epic synths kick off ‘Angel Paint’ before diving into a faster than normal riff-fest. I think I spoke too soon on the best tune of the album award. This one is effects-laden, features higher vocals, a firm beat, and pained cries of agony echoing with harshness. This is what I’ve been waiting for! It may have taken 11 tracks, but dammit, Loya has pulled out all the stops for an all around awesome tune.

‘Lotus’ is the album finisher and depending what side of Loya you prefer, it either ends on a high or a low note. In that respect, if you appreciated the softer side, then this is a big finish. ‘Lotus’ is an artsy track marked by clean and guitars, tight drumming and passionate vocals. It lacks distortion and harsh vocals, so fans of the heavier stuff might cry foul, but this was a good end to this thrill ride of an album.

A clash between artsy rock and heavy metal, Loya’s Aimvoria is something different. I can honestly say it’s not what I was expecting when it was presented as Nu Metal by one of my staff writers. In my opinion, this is a project teetering between progressive rock and metal. While it doesn’t really kick into gear until the second half, this album does well to defy genre classification while giving some sense familiarity. If you’re looking for an album with equal parts atmosphere, emotion and metal, then by all means check this one out. 7.5/10

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