Released: 2013, Nuclear Blast
Reviewer: Helias Papadopoulos
The “Psalms of the Dead” are still chanting and Candlemass takes its final gasp of life. Therefore, Avatarium is born; Leif Edling’s new project (or band). Taking the template laid down by greats like Black Sabbath, Blue Oyster Cult and Rainbow this is music that is at times comforting and familiar and at others strange and beautiful. The balance of fragility and power and at times even elements of pop will have you hooked. Vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith has a great voice with a special varied and deep bluesy timbre and at times like on ‘Pandora’s Egg’ conjures up thoughts of Heart’s Ann Wilson in her delivery. Smith is able to intricately paint hardship and remorse alongside the crushing beauty of riffs and dazzling emotion emanating from the strings of Marcus Jidell’s guitar.
Avatarium write a chapter of Swedish doom metal history by this outstanding and incredible and progged-up album. This is an album that emanates from the darkness and despair. Unexpectedly, for a first time Leif Edling’s music is presented by a female voice and I am not such a fan of female voices in metal, but this voice blows me away! I could not imagine any other voice, male or female, being more suitable for these songs.
I confess that all of the songs are special doom romps. The overtones of Candlemass may be prevalent throughout, but Avatarium offers much more of a mesh of styles. Classic rock elements from Jethro Tull and Rainbow can be plucked out of doom’s desolation. The opener title track, which was one of the 3 songs on the EP that release one month before the debut album, starts with a total heavy and slow riffing, and Smith begins to spell us with her haunting and sultry tones and at 03:18 the ¾ of ‘Sabbath Bloody Sabbath’ riff dignifies the entire song.
The other song that constitutes the forgone EP together with a nice cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’, “Boneflower” has an uplifting tune with a ‘60’s feel that is both trippy and utterly creepy. One more notable song of the album is ‘Bird of Prey’ that contains a Candlemass taste. ‘Pandora’s Egg’ is a deeply doom song with mid-paced guitars and with a hilariously moreish “egg of evil” chorus. AVATARIUM is a milestone album of a redefined rock/metal genre that Led Zeppelin and early Black Sabbath started combining the psychedelic atmosphere of 60’s/70’s with swirling and calm vocals, nice and gentle guitar solos and incredibly atmospheric keyboards. This is a metal album that is still searching new pathways through gloom and beauty.