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East Haddam, CT | Established. Jan 01, 2010

East Haddam, CT
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Rock Metal



The best kept secret in music


"Taravana - Prevail"

It has been a busy year for Alex Newton, songwriter and mastermind behind Taravana. He began 2015 by releasing A Visible Chill, an excellent EP that stands among the best metal releases of the year. If Newton had taken the rest of the year off, he would have had a lot to be proud of based on the strength of that EP alone; but here we are, just 11 short months later, and Taravana is releasing not another EP, but a full-length album. This album, Prevail, is the followup to the project's 2013 full-length debut, Love and Legends, and the quality of the album is consistent with all of Newton's previous work: excellent. Prevail is every bit as strong as A Visible Chill, although it is significantly different in style. But Taravana has never been content in playing one style of music; Love and Legends was a relatively straightforward power metal album, while A Visible Chill is best described as instrumental folk/black metal. Prevail is an album which merges the two sounds, with the result being a predominantly power metal album with a healthy sampling of folk and black metal elements spread throughout.

A lot has changed about the project since its early days. From Taravana’s formation in 2010 to mid-2015 Alex Newton was the sole member, and he took it to himself to record all instruments and vocals on previous releases. Besides the shift in genre, what separates Prevail from Taravana’s earlier work is the presence of other musicians besides Newton. Taravana is no longer a one man project; Newton is now joined by Dan Bussells, who recorded guitars on the album and who will be the band's guitarist moving forward, and Aaron Maloney of This or the Apocalypse and Waverunner, who recorded, mixed, and produced the album, as well as provided session drumming, bass, harmony vocals, and additional keyboards. Besides the three core musicians of Newton, Bussells, and Maloney, Prevail also features a handful of additional guest musicians who all play an important role in making the album excellent.

Although Newton has proved with A Visible Chill that he is more than capable of recording all instruments on his own, these additional musicians contribute significantly to the album's success. Although the synthesized guitar used on A Visible Chill worked well with that album's harsh production, the much more professionally-produced Prevail benefits greatly from having real guitars on the album, performed by the capable Bussells, and while Newton's drumming on previous albums was acceptable, the consistently strong drumming provided by Maloney is a marked improvement. One of the album's highlights is "Until You Slip Away," a soothing instrumental which sandwiches the album's two heaviest tracks, "Prevail" and "Owned By the Ocean." Although Newton's piano work on the track is excellent as always, what really makes this song a success is the beautiful cello work performed on it by Raphael Weinroth-Browne. Another guest musician is given the chance to shine on “Owned By the Ocean,” which concludes with an impressive guitar solo performed by Mitch Wessell. The inclusion of these guest musicians not only improves the album's sound significantly, but also gives Prevail a sense of community lacking from Taravana's previous releases; for once, this is a group effort, and it is clear that everyone worked hard to make the album a success.

Regarding the songs themselves, Newton's songwriting is as strong as ever. As stated already, Prevail is notably different in sound from Taravana's previous work. Almost as if it was added as an intentional tease, the first minute of the album's opening track, "Endurance," consists of a piano melody that breaks into a guitar riff that sounds like it could have been sampled directly from A Visible Chill, but by the time the folky synthesizer riff comes in just past the 2 minute mark, all similarities between Prevail and Newton's last release, which was itself significantly different from 2013's Love and Legends, become virtually non-existent. It is perhaps misleading to say that Newton has grown significantly as a songwriter this last year, as this implies that his previous work was inferior or underdeveloped; what should instead be said is that Newton has shifted successfully to a new sound that demonstrates his dedication to covering new ground with his music.

The songs on Prevail are undoubtedly more complex and layered than anything else in the Taravana discography, and each of the songs' long lengths (excluding the short instrumental interludes) give Newton plenty of opportunities to experiment within a single song. Each song has multiple distinct sections that transition seamlessly, allowing a natural progression through different musical themes. An excellent example of this is the album's title track, which starts off with a catchy folk metal segment which leads into a black metal verse (betraying Newton's strong Moonsorrow influence), before transforming into power metal. The song ends with a dissonant instrumental segment that features some smooth guitar work by Bussells. Although Prevail is an example of Newton exploring new territory, everything here is still distinctly Taravana. There are plenty of instrumental piano breaks, which have become a signature aspect of the band's sound.

It must be said that Newton's songwriting is not the only aspect of Taravana that has developed over the years. One of the best aspects of Prevail is Newton's vocals, which have improved greatly since the debut. While Love and Legends showcased straightforward power metal vocals which, while effective, lacked diversity, Prevail features a wide range of vocalizations, from strong power metal harmonies (see the end of “Endurance”), death growls on “Owned By the Ocean” and the start of “Endurance,” and the aforementioned black metal vocals present on the title track. All of these vocal experiments are a success, but Newton’s voice is at its absolute best on the superb “Cape Evans,” a power metal ballad which serves as the album’s climax and is hands down the best song on the album (and of Taravana’s career to date). With a running time of over 10 minutes, “Cape Evans” is the longest track on the album, but every second is necessary for the song to make its impact. As if to prove that he is able to compete with Wessell (and he certainly can), the piece concludes with a tasteful and impressive guitar solo performed by Bussells, which serves as the perfect way to end an already excellent song.

As with all other releases in the Taravana discography, Prevail is a concept album. While A Visible Chill dealt with the Scottish legend of the Greyman, Prevail returns to the nautical themes of Love and Legends. Prevail, which is subtitled “The Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition,” tells the tale of Ernest Shackleton's famous voyage to the Antarctic. The album loosely follows Shackleton’s voyage chronologically from his departure in December of 1914 to the return voyage in August of 1916. Although this is a promising concept, it must be said that for all the talk of a concept album, the storytelling is a bit lacking. The lyrics do little to move the story along for the listener; much is left open to interpretation, with Newton relying mostly on atmosphere to move the story forward. That being said, the last two tracks do wrap up the album very well. “Cape Evans” is a touching farewell song based on letters sent between Aeneas Mackintosh and his wife throughout the voyage, and the album’s concluding song is “The Freshest Breeze,” a piece described by Newton as an attempt to recall the sea shanties sung by sailors on the trip home. The song would not have been out of place on Love and Legends, and it is a fitting and effective way to end the album:

“So here’s to those lost who will never find shore
May the gods remember their names
Now the day, no it ain’t so far away
When we’re finally home”

All in all, there is little to criticize with Prevail. The album is every bit as good as A Visible Chill, and is in many ways (particularly in regards to production and instrumentation) superior. While the storytelling aspect of the album is a bit weak, this is a minor issue which does not detract from the quality of the album in any significant way. Prevail is an excellent album, and the consistent strength of Newton’s work should leave us all excited to see what Taravana will have in store for us in 2016. - Brian Donarski, SputnikMusic


Love and Legends (LP, 2013)
A Visible Chill (EP, 2015)



Taravana is a musical enigma that straddles several genres from extreme metal to classical and folk music. Its most recent album "Prevail" tells the story of Ernest Shackleton's legendary 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica, and is the first with guitarist Dan Wise (Dogs & Day Drinkers) and drummer Aaron Maloney (This Or the Apocalypse).

Band Members