Awe- Providentia

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Sunday, December 13, 2015

Greek black metal band Awe may not have released material until this year, but the group has been honing their craft since 2007 and it shows on their debut full length Providentia. Like quite a few of the others in the genre, Awe has chosen to keep the identities of their members a secret and let the music take the spotlight. This feels appropriate considering that Providentia is a sprawling fifty one minute album that’s spread across three lengthy tracks, and while there are elements to the group’s attack that may recall the same dissonance and expansive nature that has become commonplace in black metal recently the quality of the songwriting makes this another album worth taking note of.

Providentia is split into three acts, with each one running between fifteen and twenty minutes. What listeners will immediately notice about Awe’s approach to black metal is that they put an emphasis on cleaner tonality and a polished sound, allowing the softer melodic sections and sweeping leads an ample amount of space to breathe on each song. But despite the increased amount of clarity and move away from a rawer sound, this doesn’t mean that the instrumentals are lacking any of the intensity that one would expect. Each track feels like it incorporates several shorter ones within the fifteen to twenty minute runtimes, with the material offering multiple climaxes and expansive build-ups that give way to softer introspective moments while still maintaining a good deal of grit and bone chilling tonality throughout. Compared to so many other black metal bands that have a tendency to blast at the listener with the same amount of intensity and volume for the entirety of an album, Awe takes a more dynamic approach and understands how to properly utilize the softer breaks to keep the overwhelming feeling of darkness spreading even when the music is at its sparsest point. There does remain room for further growth though, as even after repeated listens the first song still seems to hit the greatest peaks and gets under your skin just a bit more than the other two, but Providentia as a whole still manages to come across as a cohesive and well composed body of work that pushes some of the traditional genre elements into more expansive and adventurous directions.

Awe’s vocals skew towards the more traditional end of the spectrum, sticking with lower screams and growls that reverberate over the instrumentation and build in intensity as the songs head towards their peak levels. Though it may be a familiar style, the band pulls it off well by allowing the vocals to fade in and out of the songs and places enough space between verses that each reappearance jolts the listener back to attention. With the cleaner production values that Providentia utilizes the lower screams and growls are one of the most prominent elements of the overall mix, and the group uses this to their advantage by making each occurrence stand out and grab the listener right by the throat. Given the sheer length of each song the performance could have easily fallen into repetition, but Awe is able to avoid that and keep each moment feeling razor sharp.

Though the first act overshadows the other two to a degree, Awe has still delivered a debut that will leave a strong impression on listeners. With each song able to offer blasting, chaotic instrumentation and slower burning moments that have more of a ritualistic and exploratory feel, this band has carved out a space for themselves and showcased a dynamic approach to this type of black metal. Providentia is worth spending time with to fully explore every nuance, and hints at even greater potential still to come.

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