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Avatarium - "Hurricanes and Halos" (CD)

Avatarium - "Hurricanes and Halos" CD cover image

"Hurricanes and Halos" track listing:

1. Into The Fire/Into The Storm
2. The Starless Sleep
3. Road To Jerusalem
4. Medusa Child
5. The Sky At The Bottom Of The Sea
6. When Breath Turns To Air
7. A Kiss (From The End Of The World)
8. Hurricanes And Halos

Reviewed by on June 6, 2017

"Think of 'Hurricanes and Halos' as classic doom at its beginning and end with a murky sea of consciousness-expanding material in the middle."

When Avatarium burst on the scene in 2013, the union of Candlemass’ Leif Edling and ex-Evergrey guitarist Marcus Jidell was almost too much to comprehend. However, it was the emergence of Jennie-Ann Smith (wife of Marcus Jidell) and her astounding voice that was made for doom that took me by complete surprise. The resulting self-titled debut was a Top 10 album in doom metal and the beginning of what is hoped to be a long and lustrous career. The follow up in 2015 with “The Girl With the Raven Mask” saw the band progress a bit beyond doom into even more “trippy” depths. That trend continues with the new opus “Hurricanes and Halos,” which finds the band guitar neck deep in psychedelic realms.

One of the things that has made Avatarium so defining is that finally there was a true doom metal band that kept all the epic Swedish doom qualities, has a sword dipped in psychedelia, and features one of the most unique and mesmerizing female voices (Witch Mountain and Blood Ceremony aside). When I finally got the chance to scratch the band off the live bucket list on 70,000 Tons of Metal in early 2017, the performance was precisely what I imagined – darkness and beauty (and some pretty wild interpretive dancing from Smith). I simply couldn’t look away.

With “Hurricanes and Halos” the band now reaches the third full-length release and first without the influence of Edling, who is now concentrating on The Doomsday Kingdom. It’s a huge step for the band, so would the dynamic husband/wife couple doom prevail? Of course! In so many ways, Avatarium continues to succeed at creating innovation without losing that Swedish doom core. Think of “Hurricanes and Halos” as classic doom at its beginning and end with a murky sea of consciousness-expanding material in the middle.

“Into the Fire – Into the Storm” blasts out with the atypical Swedoom followed up by “The Starless Sleep” and the wall of hallucinations start with “Road to Jerusalem.” When I first heard this song, it seemed quirky, but the more I listened it grew like a psilocybin mushroom at the Gulf of Bothnia in Umeå. The song has now become a favorite, as has the more trippy “Medusa Child,” which solidly blasts out of the gate, but fades right in the middle precipitated by the ultra-long, ultra-creepy child chorus that drifts into a kaleidoscopic potion. Getting that kid chorus out of my head is near impossible, but “The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea” is the remedy! After surviving the psychotomimetic “When Breath Turns to Air” (the band’s doomy answer to vaudeville), the prize is “A Kiss (From the End of the World)” - the doom song of 2017!

I cannot say enough about Jennie-Ann Smith, a vocalist that came out of enslave my attention with a sultry, powerful, yet fragile style that I confess to have fallen in love with (the voice people… I’m far from a creeper). There is no denying her mesmerizing power, to the point where when I get caught up in an Avatarium binge I fail to find a vocalist on earth that can even compare.

“Hurricanes and Halos” continues Avatarium’s doomination on the scene. Not since Below and Candlemass itself have I been so beguiled by this sub-genre. The album certainly doesn’t have quite the impact and perfection as on the 2013 debut, but why should it? Bands should grow and innovate the sound and Avatarium has tipped its scales a bit more towards the trippy psychedelic side. However, make no mistake about it – the Sweedoom is still so very strong!

Highs: Avatarium is worlds apart in the world of doom.

Lows: A little more trippy than I wished, but its the progression of the style.

Bottom line: Prepare yourselves for a trippy ride for Avatarium's next chapter "Hurricanes and Halos."

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)