I loved AVATARIUM’s first album! It was a welcome intermission among a pile of new bands with nothing new to give. Jennie-Ann Smith’s sweet n’ majestic voice soothed my black heart while heavy doom rhythms framed her properly, a job well done by Leif Edling ,Carl Westholm (CANDLEMASS), Marcus Jidell (ex- EVERGREY, ex- ROYAL HUNT), Lars Skold (TIAMAT).

“Avatarium” has been on my playlist for a long time! Now comes the second album “The Girl With The Raven Mask” and as anxious I was to listen to it the more I was afraid that it could be a poor replica.

Kicking off with a fast and full of energy self titled “The Girl With The Raven Mask” I began to feel like home again. Warm and inviting, it feels like written in the early 70’s mixed perfectly with Jennie-Ann’s voice in great mood. Powerful track and a hell of a beginning! Second one, “The January Sea”, is also high in quality and performance with very good changes from melodic to heavy and with a great guitar solo.

Even better comes “Pearls And Coffins” flirting with hard rock sounds (Rainbow-like) confident and passionate vocals and guitar parts feeling a little ’’blue’’. Next one, “Hypnotized”, is pretty much same recipe as above; great solo guitar parts and of course the seductive voice of Jennie-Ann. So far so good I’d say. Fifth song is “Ghostlight’’ and next “Run Killer Run” make no difference; a bit inferior from the above and feels like taking a small dip. Nevertheless, great songwriting and absolutely magnificent performance.

“Iron Mule” takes us a trip back to the 70’s where true hard rock was born. I loved the keyboard parts here which are not doom at all but… so what? Great song! “Master Thief” is pretty amazing too; a ballad with a catchy refrain returning to the doom forms they’ve build so beautifully. Last one thou, “In My Time Of Dying”, could easily be overlooked. This song is not the best ending for this beautiful album.

To sum up, “The Girl With The Raven Mask” is a great album, very strong with various rotations in mood but, unfortunately, not all songs are that good. Also, I felt like some of them are made to invest on Jennie-Ann’s voice (cover art, album title) that is a bit of a disadvantage for the other so talented musicians involved in this great band. Overall, you should not miss this truly fantastic album!

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