Michael Avery‘s back, baby! Following his 2015 album, The Scientist, which we liked a lot, the eponymous full-length is even more impressive! Although I’m admittedly not a fan of the, uhh… Abstract 90s-inspired, tribal tattoo artwork, the music is on par with the contemporaries of instrumental progressive metal, and by that I mean that it’s better than most of what’s being done in the genre nowadays. The jazz-infused prog of Mr. Avery is intelligent and executed selon les règles de l’art. Some songs are very moody, while others are energetic and have lots of drive to them. The addition of Richard Blumenthal (of Blumen fame) and James Knoerl (of Aviations and With a Smile), two great musicians, to the lineup proves successful and allows the compositions to breathe deeper and get more of a ‘band’ feel, rather than a ‘solo project’ one. However, there is a bit of criticism I’d like to address. First off, I would step down the distortion knob on the bass guitar. Maybe not everywhere, because it does sound good in heavier, more intense passages, but other times it just is unnecessarily harsh. There are also a few instances where the drums and riffs aren’t perfectly in synchronization. One could argue that a kick that is one eighth after the riff’s accentuation is a completely conscious artistic choice, and I would be perfectly fine with that, but it just seems like an odd decision in an otherwise so perfectly aligned record. There are also a couple songs which seem to be just below the level of quality you’ve come to expect from the album, one of which being ‘Mandala’, which would have perhaps needed a bit more fleshing out because of its rhythmically more complex nature. Other than that, Michael Avery is an exceedingly good progressive metal album that you ought to listen!