Meet the Boston sextet writing progressive metal for the head and the heart

Formed while the core of the band was studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Aviations have been diligent in not letting their theoretical knowledge hinder their ability to write genuinely heartfelt music.

There’s music that’s for your heart and music that’s for your head, and I think music that has really good staying power finds a balance of both,” believes pianist Richard Blumenthal. “Music can seem soulless when it’s just a technical exercise, whereas music that’s only for the heart might be a little too simplistic; you don’t need to go back to it dozens of times. I’m probably a little bit more of a cerebral person, but other folks in the band are trying to make sure our music hits you in the heart. That balance is important.”

Guitarists Sam Harchik and Eric Palmer, vocalist Adam Benjamin and drummer James Knoerl quickly pieced debut album, //The Light Years// together during their studies. It was only when Blumenthal, who Knoerl discovered posting covers of the Armenian jazz pianist Tigran Hamasyan on YouTube, and bassist Werner Erkelens joined, that they felt like a cohesive unit.

One of our strengths is that we’re really good at having a diverse set of influences,” says Knoerl. “We have very eclectic tastes between the six of us and we’re able to work it so it doesn’t sound like it’s shoehorned together.”

Building on the foundation that their stable and wide-ranging afforded them, they’ve come to life on new album, //Luminaria//. From hook-driven pop to death metal, post-hardcore and classical, they’ve found a way of making their smorgasbord of styles easily digestible.

There was a lot of trial and error with this album in terms of trying to find an identity,” Knoerl extends. “We’ve learnt what we what we like about our music and found ways to refine it to make that more clear.”

Now we have more confidence in our line-up and in our sound, we can now throw more stuff against the wall, be that death metal screams or cutesy music box bridge sections that you get across //Luminaria//,” Blumenthall returns. He adds that the band’s penchant for long songs, with the record’s closing one-two at 10 minutes apiece, has developed through each member being equal contributors. “The more instruments that you have the more textural possibilities and variants you have in your palette, so that naturally lets things expand; I think having six people means that the songs are not going to get wrapped up in three minutes.”

All six of us have such different things that we excel at in writing,” adds Knoerl, “we can all feel where a song is going and know who is best to work with to get it finished. It’s a corny answer, but when I listen to the two albums, I think about how much we’ve matured as artists. They’ll still be a lot of experimentation going forward, but now we have a clear blueprint; we know what sounds good for us individually and for the band.” PEW


LINE-UP: Adam Benjamin (vocals), Sam Harchik (guitar), James Knoerl (drums) Richard Blumenthal (piano), Eric Palmer (guitar), Werner Erkelens (bass)

SOUNDS LIKE: The techy prog metal of Dream Theater and Arch Echo mixed with sweeping, emotion-draped emo and alt rock vocals

CURRENT RELEASE: //Luminaria// is out now via The AV Collective

WEBSITE: https://aviationsband.com/

— Phil Weller

From "Limelight - Aviations" Prog Reprinted with permission.

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