Avastera - The Clocks Have Ticked Too Long
Record Label: None
Release Date: March 30, 2012
There must be a book on writing catchy pop-punk tunes that teenage girls go crazy for. I've heard so many bands do the same thing and still get the same positive response from the same fan base. I tested this theory by showing Australian pop-punk rookies Avastera to my girlfriend. I can just tell that these guys have read the books enough to teach them. Sure enough, she instantly loved them, just like All Time Low and the rest of them. And sure, this method isn't going to work for all the bands that try it, but others have that special element that allows them to extend their fan base and possibly enjoy some modest success, and Avastera just may be one of those bands.
I'm going to start by going on about what I love about Avastera. Because there's a lot. First of all, their lead guitarist is an animal. By pop-punk standards, at least. Just listen to that guitar solo on "Hear Me Out," almost no bands in this genre show off that kind of shredding. Even all the little riffs in each new part of every song are catchy and skillful, most notably the completely addicting one on "Highways From Home." It matches right up with the high level of energy and the fun, poppy melodies of the band that make the genre so enjoyable. Another standout quality of this band is the tendency of the songs to change significantly. In one song, you can hear a Mayday Parade sounding pop-punk hook (which seems to be the band's comfort zone) that shifts to a melodic breakdown, then to a full-on attack with hints of post-hardcore. This tactic often produces a constant flow of exciting energy, but sometimes things can get a bit confused.
The band calls themselves a blend of pop-punk, post-hardcore, contemporary pop rock and melodic metal, but let's face it, it would take a miracle to get all of those to blend together seamlessly. There are some inevitable consequences, like "As The Tables Turn," which is primarily focused on the post-hardcore element. The band does best in that Mayday pop-punk sound, but when they try to focus too much on a different genre, it just ends up sounding generic. This song simply comes off as forced, complete with screaming that feels out of place, although it's really out of place anywhere on the EP. It just clashes too much with the poppy clean vocals and primarily upbeat music.
Another major flaw facing the band is the weakness in originality. All of the six songs on this album feature a backbone of generic chord progressions with little changing. The vocal melodies are also weak, most of the choruses sounding quite similar. Lead vocalist Mike Lang seems to like to hit the same high note in the chorus of each song as many times as he can, and when it's heard so much, all of the melodies just seem to lose their edge. This contributes to the songs "Highways From Home" and "This Beautiful Nightmare" coming off as filler tracks, the latter being even weaker with a lack of any other strengths.
The main problem, though, is despite improving on that common formula of writing catchy songs, Avastera still hasn't done enough to make a lasting impression. They've taken that formula and enhanced it with fast paced guitars and rapid shifts in styles, and the overall sound is solid, but it's really up to the listener as to whether they've done enough. Most would probably say that they haven't. The bottom line is that beneath all the flashiness are songs of the same tired structure that's been used countless times before. I will say this, though, pop-punk fans should look out for these guys. Once they work on the shortcomings they faced on this EP, they're gonna be something else.