Ava Inferi are a gothic metal band who also draw on doom metal (in many ways gothic metal is the bastard love child of doom metal and gothic rock anyway) and progressive rock. "Onyx" is the first Ava Inferi album I have heard (so I'm not really a huge fan), and I am not disappointed.
It is true that female vocals has sort of become a yardstick feature of gothic metal (to the extent that even non-gothic female fronted metal is considered gothic metal by many), and personally I think that a lot of these bands sound clichéd and generic - especially because the female vocalists all tend to make use of the same style of singing.
I think that Ava Inferi are different from the mainstream female fronted gothic metal acts of today. Firstly, Carmen Susana Simões' vocals have a certain original quality to them, which contributes an eerie melancholic feel to the album as well as a dark epic sensibility. Secondly, the music itself is interesting - not so much in the overall picture, but it contains a lot of little details and effects here and there. Repetition characterizes the compositions on this album, and, while, some might consider this a result of lack of imagination on part of the musicians, I think that it contributes to the overall atmospheric feel of the album, and there can be no doubt that the level of musicianship is very high. The repetitive nature of the compositions also make the above-mentioned little details stand out even more. Thirdly, Ava Inferi being a Norwegian/Portuguese project, I like how the band manages to capture and combine the melancholic feel that characterizes a lot of both Scandinavian and Portuguese traditional music, and this is one of the features that make Ava Inferi's music more interesting (to me at least) than what most other modern gothic metal artists churn out.
"Onyx" probably does not appeal to fans of extreme and aggressive metal, but I think that fans of gothic metal and doom metal might appreciate it, and I can imagine that it will also appeal to many fans of gothic rock and more melancholic progressive rock. On the whole, I think it is a very well crafted album.
(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)