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ABOUT

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About

Avarayr are an Armenian pagan black metal band formed in 2013.

The band was formed in Tehran, Iran in the second half of 2013 by vocalist and guitarist Narek Avedyan. The vision behind Avarayr was mixing black metal with Armenian and Persian traditional music, with lyrical themes focusing on Armenian paganism, mythology, and history.

 

Initially a one-man project, Narek soon befriended Ervin Martirosian who would become the band's drummer, along with Emin Khechoomian who joined as lead guitarist.

The trio began to practice in a shabby, cockroach-infested rehearsal space built in Emin's garage, appearing live in Tehran for the first time in June of 2014 as part of a memorial event dedicated to the Armenian Independence Day. They played their first full show in 2014 to an exclusively Armenian audience as part of the Pan-Armenian games. During this time Narek began putting the finishing touches on the first self-titled Avarayr EP which he had concluded writing in 2013. Ervin and Emin did not appear on the EP, later appearing on the single Rituals in a Dungeon White instead - released in 2014.

 

After playing another full show in 2014 at the Ararat Sports and Cultural Complex in Tehran, Emin and Ervin departed the band due to creative differences, and Narek continued working on the full-length album on his own. Ervin would later rejoin Avarayr in 2018 and has remained with the band since. 

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Photo by Adis Shant

About
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2015 saw Avarayr perform for the first time in Yerevan, Armenia, albeit with a completely new line-up featuring Christopher Amirian on bass, Astghik Turabyan on keyboards, and Arthur Poghosyan on drums. The latter were musicians from local Armenian bands who supported Avarayr in realizing the dream of performing in their motherland.

The band returned to Armenia later that same year with the same line-up, this time being joined by Mher Azizbekyan on bass.

2015 also saw the release of the Arevapar demo, heralding the future sound the band would go on to forge on their debut album. Following that was the A Symphony Carved in Stone single, showcasing the vocal talents of Armen Shahbegian who went on to appear on numerous Avarayr recordings and live shows.

A demo for the instrumental track Goghtan was released after ASCIS, and the year ended with the emotive single, Qavaran. At this point, Avarayr had returned to being a one-man project, performing live only thanks to the musicians who graced the band with their talent and dedication.

Photo by Davit Jotyan

About

2016 was a rather passive year for Avarayr, seeing the release of two live demos from the early Avarayr days, "Zartir Lao" and "Ardyoq Ovqer En." The band, however, returned to Armenia for another show which would set the trajectory that led to the release of the debut album which had been stuck in production hell. Joining the band for this show were Arthur Poghosyan on drums, Astghik Turabyan on keyboards, Armen Manukyan on guitars and Emin Aghajanian on bass.

 

This line-up will soldier on into 2017, playing a live show in Armenia with addition of guitarist Artak Karapetyan. The same year saw the release of two singles: "My Heart in the Trenches" and "Ceremonious Dances in Ughtasar," the latter featuring the guitar work of Armen Manukyan, who would go on to record all of the guitar lines on Avarayr's debut album.

"Echoes from the Diaspora" was a live demo album released in the same year and featured recordings from various live performances, rehearsals, as well as unreleased demos and covers.

By the end of 2017, guitarist Armen Manukyan temporarily left the band to complete his mandatory military service in Armenia, and Avarayr's performances in their motherland came to a halt.

 

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Photo by Vahe Kirakosyan  

About
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2018 marked a fateful year for Avarayr. The band's original drummer, Ervin Martirosian, rejoined the band 4 years after his initial departure. Also joining the band were guitarist Vahé Menachekanian and keyboardist Annie Arzoumanian. Emin Aghajanian remained with the band on bass. Most notably, the performance featured a guest appearance from original guitarist Emin Khechoomian.

The abovementioned line-up was fully based in Tehran, which allowed the band to play their first show there since 2014. Participating alongside other local Armenian bands in a 2-day festival dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Republic, all bands donated the proceedings toward preserving Armenian schools in Tehran.

Shortly thereafter, Avarayr was featured alongside fellow Armenian bands in the Portuguese Ultraje magazine in an editorial covering the Armenian metal scene.

Playing their first show in Armenia with drummer Ervin Martirosian and guest vocalist Armen Shahbegian, the band returned to Yerevan. This particular show featured Artak Karapetyan on guitars, Emin Aghajanian on bass, and Astghik Turabyan on keyboards.

Photo by Elsa Khachikian

About

2019 began with Avarayr's Tehran-based line-up participating in the SURVIVAL festival in Iran, dedicated to the 104 anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. 

Afterwards, the band played what was to be their biggest show ever in Iran, performing in front of a 3000+ audience as part of the commemorative event dedicated to the Armenian Genocide.

Avarayr then travelled to Armenia with the same line-up, embarking on a small two-day mini-tour which included a performance in Yerevan, as well as another performance in the city of Vanadzor. 

 

Upon returning to Tehran, the band played what would be their last show in the country, featuring both original songs as well as covers of Armenian military hymns and revolutionary songs.

2019 was also a milestone for the band, as it finally saw the release of their debut album, A Symphony Carved in Stone, which had been stuck in production hell since 2015. Armen Manukyan, Narbeh Danielyan, Ani Msrakhanyan, Peter Torbjørn, Mahdi Darvish, and Armen Shahbegian all appeared on the album alongside a number of other musicians.  

A Symphony Carved in Stone was well-received by fans and marked a turning point for the band's future.

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Photo by Artem

About
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By 2020, Narek had moved to Armenia and Armen Manukyan had concluded his military service. The band gathered to play a show with Mher Azizbekyan on bass, Arthur Poghosyan on drums, and Asta Cross on keyboards. The show did not come fruition as it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For most of 2020, Avarayr lay dormant until the 2020 war between Artsakh and Azerbaijan triggered the band to come out of retirement and record a studio version of Ardyoq Ovqer En. Ervin recorded the drums from Iran, while Narek, Armen Manukyan and Armen Shahbegian were joined by Artak Karapetyan in Armenia who handled the recording process and played bass on the song.

A year later, Avarayr released "To the Moon," an experimental folk song featuring Gevork Khachaturian on keys, Mineh Keshishi on vocals, Raffi Stepanian on bass, and George Andreasian on guitars.

Ervin's repatriation to Armenia in 2021 breathed life anew into the line-up, and the band geared up for a performance in Yerevan which proved to be the last time Avarayr would perform with guitarist Armen Manukyan and keyboardist Asta Cross.

Photo by Emin Aristakesyan

About

2022 has seen the band with a rejuvenated line-up including Mher Azizbekyan on bass, Ervin Martirosian on drums, and newcomer Hayk Gyurjyan on guitars. 

Avarayr played a total of 4 shows in 2022, performing alongside Greek legends Varathron to name a highlight. The band has finished composing a new album titled "Mehyan" which they are hoping to record and release sometime in 2023.

The band, especially founder Narek, would like to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all the amazing talented musicians who have contributed their skills to bringing Avaray to the live stage. 

The journey continues onwards and upwards.

Praise the Sun!

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Photo by Uvarov Evgenii

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