For those who lived under a rock for the past four years and they don’t know it yet, AVATARIUM is a Swedish band that features the mastermind of Leif Edling (CANDLEMASS, KRUX, THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM) alongside the guitarist Marcus Jidell (THE DOOMSDAY KINGDOM, ex-EVERGREY, ex-THE RING, amongst others) and the singer Jennie Ann Smith. In the four years of their existence they have spawned three full length albums and two extended plays. Their latest long playing record, “Hurricanes & Halos” was released a few days ago.
The third album is, most of the times, the one that will tell the audience if a band is interested in progressing/altering the sound of their music or it will remain in the same style as it started. The first is the case with this band.
Their previous two full length records were deeper in the doom metal sound but in this, new one, half of the body of the music they produced is outside the waters of the doom and into the air of the 70s hard rock. That has happened mainly because of the increase of the involvement of the entire band in the songwriting and arrangement of the songs. That alone can make the fans of the early doom metal sound cringe but on the other hand; it may lead to the augmentation of the audience since this hard rock sound is more appealing to a wider audience.
This is AVATARIUM’s most enjoyable record!
In my opinion, the band’s progression and experimentation, have worked out well. The songs in “Hurricanes & Halos” are more upbeat and energetic. I would go as far as stating this is AVATARIUM’s most enjoyable record!
Listening to the album it is more than obvious that the compositions are worked to the last detail but they haven’t lost their freshness. Mrs. Smith once again performs wonderfully and justifies the characterization that is given to her as “The female Dio”. Another advantage of the new songs is the expanded use of keyboards by Mr. Carl Westholm. His playing enriches and mellows the sound in the slower songs like “When Breath Turns To Air” and brings the classic hard rock element in the faster songs like the “The Starless Sleep” and the first single “Into The Fire/Into The Storm”.
The experimentation is most notable in “Road To Jerusalem” where the band tries and successfully writes a country-folk, west-meets-east, track. Of course the signature-songs of Mr. Edling like “A Kiss (From The End Of The World)” and mostly the second part of the nine-minute epic that “Medusa Child” is, are here to remind everyone his doom metal heritage.
Some may think that the success that bands like GHOST have had in the last years pushed AVATARIUM to re-arrange their music in order to be more popular. Well, to me that is not a bad thing, the rock world needs to popularize bands that sound as atmospheric and uplifting as GHOST but with a good vocalist and qualitative hard rock compositions, wink-wink…