Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment
Reviewed By Simon Crawley
Brilliant doom metal caught somewhere between dreams and nightmares
As 2013 drew to a close, this debut album from Sweden’s Avatarium emerged out from the doom-knitted mist to assertively place itself amongst one of the most impressive albums of the year. What started off as a couple of songs written by Candlemass’ Leif Edling, progressed onto contributions from guitarist Marcus Jidell (Evergrey, Royal Hunt), only then to become an entire album of captivating doom that swirls with stunning melody and the resounding pulse of mournful dirges.
Complemented by the addition of Lars Sköld on drums (Tiamat), Carl Westholm on keyboard (Jupiter Society, Carp Tree) and the relatively unknown Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals; Avatarium has produced seven songs that will serenade you into melancholic oblivion. This is the sort of doom that draws from elements of classic rock and blues to reveal a remarkable degree of technical creativity and musical diversity. Marcus Jidell does an incredible job on guitar, providing each song with its own unique identity and feel. His solos are technical and masterfully measured to fit whatever mood is being portrayed. Jennie-Ann Smith has a beautiful voice, with great range and a certain grittiness that blends perfectly with the bluesy groove present throughout the album.
Due to doom metal’s general makeup of densely set tempo and guitar riffs, so many albums often lack imagination. This is where Avatarium has done a superb job in leaping over this pitfall with seven very memorable songs. The opening number, ‘Moonhorse’, starts fully adorned in doom metal attire only then to fade off and on between passages of soft, lullaby melody. Smith’s voice goes from soft and sweet to then unveiling the full potential of her range in ‘Pandora’s Egg’. This song gradually picks up momentum and about halfway through, Jidell launches into a dizzying solo on the back of heavy, momentous riffs. ‘Bird of Prey’ is another standout song; psychedelic 1970s rock offset by mesmerising melody and all neatly stitched together by some more fantastic guitar work by Jidell. The best is truly saved for last in ‘Lady in the Lamp’ – hauntingly moving harmonies, heart-wrenching vocals from Smith and Jidell’s best moment on the entire album with an insanely good guitar solo.
Avatarium boasts plenty of pedigree and it really does show in this, a very impressive debut album. Classical influences are grafted beautifully onto contemporary, heavy doom metal elements and shaped into a captivating and original sounding collection of songs.
More from Avatarium
- Hurricanes and Halos [review]