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Avatarium - "Avatarium" (CD)

Avatarium - "Avatarium" CD cover image

"Avatarium" track listing:

1. Moonhorse
2. Pandora's Egg
3. Avatarium
4. Boneflower
5. Bird Of Prey
6. Tides Of Telepathy
7. Lady In The Lamp

Reviewed by on October 10, 2013

"'If there is a place of perfection that sits midway between epic doom and stoner rock….Avatarium has found it. Without leaning too fuzzy or trippy, the band is a shining epic anvil with the horn dipped in PCP.'"

There is an evil madness that descends underneath the depths of despair – riding along the electric charges that jump the endless lattice of neural pathways in the mind. The parasitic nature is so perfect that it is undetectable; it is one with the host. Like the serpent in the Garden of Eden, it has the ability to cause the host to find wonderful elegance in malevolence and anguish, happiness in wretchedness, euphoria in gloom. It has the ability to morph into an incarnate life form or simply the embodiment of senses, forcing us willingly to plunge into the expanse of emptiness. Its laboratory is Avatarium. You wondered whether there was life after Candlemass without revisiting the overly eccentric Abstrakt Algebra? Well, Leif Edling can make no bolder statement than this new band. While the “Pslams of the Dead” are still chanting and Candlemass takes its final gasp of life, an ember of evil as small as a speck has already floated from the burning pyre, silently embedding into the cold dark earth. Spewing forth is a root of pure evil transcending its host, taking every essence of its sorrow, mourning, pain and suffering and transforming into a new level of doom, a “Bird of Prey,” which redefines the genre as if Black Sabbath was truly “born again.”

It is a special ability to take all that has ever been done with the genre of doom – the riffs, the moods, the melancholy overtones, the crushing riffs - and make them sound as if you never heard any of it before. If there is a place of perfection that sits midway between epic doom and stoner rock, Avatarium has found it. Without leaning too fuzzy or trippy, the band is a shining epic anvil with the horn dipped in PCP. There is much more at work here than just leap frogging Candlemass - there is a 60’s-70’s vibe throughout that comes from both the music and vocals. The first thought of Candlemass with a female vocalist was intriguing, but I prayed to Iommi that she wouldn’t sound operatic. Fortunately, the haunting vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith wafted from the speakers and it was as if Janis Joplin was reborn with a much wider, clearer range and ten times the power. With remarkable perfection, 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. Her voice can strike with both immense power and frail honesty.

Musically, there is much complexity in its simplicity. Like all great doom, the pace rarely traverses a stride above mid-pace and being mired in a web of despondent emotion with foreboding melodies proves both enchanting and mesmerizing. The density of the Jidell/Edling riff machine is elephantine; graceful until disturbed at which point it winds up its girth and comes barreling along in a mid-paced charge, each strum a load bearing blow, suffocating all in its path (best represented at 2:27 of “Pandoras Egg”). “Moonhorse” starts with utter devastation before it gives way to Smith’s haunting and sultry tones, as she tells a child’s daydreams of blue horses on the moon and tigers that swim at the bottom of the sea.

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. “Boneflower” has an uplifting tune about the place where lovers go to commit suicide (“a thousand corpses look like leaves”) with a ‘60’s feel that is both trippy and utterly creepy. Then like a castle that appears out of a moat’s misty fog, a song that instantaneously rocketed to the top of the greatest doom metal tracks ever written: “Bird of Prey.” Never has there been a song that perfectly blends ghoulish lyrics, classic rock, crushing doom and Type O goth than this masterpiece.

Once again, Leif Edling has outdone himself. Avatarium redefines a genre that has become flooded with stoner rock acts that tilt more towards Zeppelin than Sabbath of late. By joining with one of the finest guitarists in Marcus Jidell and unveiling the nostalgic incantations of Jennie Ann-Smith, all that is old becomes strikingly new and unfamiliar again. Navigating the nebulous waters of Avatarium’s doom brings the perfect balance of psychedelic atmosphere and crushing devastation. It’s an epic win.

Highs: Perfect balance of classic rock elements with crushing epic doom, Jennie-Ann Smith shines

Lows: Not for fans of metal with speed.

Bottom line: Avatarium redefines doom at a "candlemass" with "abstrakt algebraic" formulas.

Rated 5 out of 5 skulls
5 out of 5 skulls

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)