Italian progressivists Avelion have struck a happy medium with their second full-length outing, Illusion of Transparency. Their knack of fusing strong, memorable choruses with intricate yet heavy instrumental passages and damaging riffs allows the listener the best of all personal worlds throughout the record, with the excellent, versatile vocals of William Verderi topping the whole thing off in pleasing fashion.

Leonardo Freggi’s strident riffs are a prominent landmark throughout; djent influences are present in the down-tuned, syncopated six string maelstroms he whips up, though never at the expense of memorable hooks and a fine melodic sensibility that renders even the heaviest material here defiantly memorable. On standout track Waste My Time, which has a tremendously epic feel to it despite weighing in at only just over four minutes in length, all the elements mentioned mesh together almost faultlessly. Add to these the fleet-fingered keyboard contributions of Oreste Giacomini and you have a pretty good example of how good progressive metal can be in 2017.

Open Your Eyes is perhaps the best of the more melodic, ‘radio friendly’ tracks that Avelion have to offer; a yearning chorus is peppered with fluid soloing and a nice counterpoint of ‘difficult’ jazzy chords to throw the listener off the scent before everything resolves itself nicely, whilst the quirky intro to Ain’t No Dawn – spooky keys interspersed with electronic percussion shows that the band aren’t afraid to stray off the path if they think it’ll help the song. That the song blossoms into perhaps the most memorable of the collection (via some more unforgiving riffage) shows that this band really do have a superior ear when it comes to pacing, dynamics and structure.

In a time where a lot of ‘progressive’ music is in danger of disappearing up it’s own fundament in the race to be more musicianly than the rest of the pack, Avelion prove that there’s still plenty of room for good old fashioned songwriting smarts in the prog metal arena. They might not fit in as many notes per minute as the competition, but they sure deliver enjoyment by the truckload. Recommended.

Avelion’s new album, Illusion of Transparency, is out now on Revalve Records