Dooooooom is fun. It is. It gets your head nodding and your bits moving in all the right ways . The guys and gal from Avatarium do Doom and they do it well. This quintet hail from Stockholm and have barely reached toddlerhood in their band age. This does not affect their sound though. These guys know their stuff. The heaviness is there with low ends reminiscent of more modern Candlemass augmented by beatific melody and crushing riffs . Hardly surprising as this band is masterminded by one Leif Edling of Candlemass and his unique bass sounds lays the blueprint for this album.
Surfing on the top of this tsunami of metal come’s the pipes of Jennie-Ann Smith. From folksy subtlety to grandiose vocal lines this woman gives it her all. Opener “ Moonhorse “ is a case in point , interwoven sections of crunching metal interspersed with acoustic passages detailing woodland magick this is like a sprinkling mushrooms on ya pot noodle.
Pandora’s egg continues the them e and offers up a more epic sound . This is no funeral party. Avatarium want you to move to their tunes and like to throw in a bit of psychedelia and Fleetwood Mac with the Sabbath worship .
“Boneflower” is the track being touted by pluggers and it is easy to see why. Psychedelic pomp and a great riff this would work in your local rock pub/club and has already become a staple on my radio show. Not bad for a track about a forest where lovers top themselves. Happy happy joy joy.
There seem to be a fair few female fronted (fuck that’s a lot of f’s) doom and occult rock acts at the mo which in a metal world that seems to haemorrhage new sub genres daily is a little disconcerting. My worry is that bands like Avatarium, Alunah, Purson et al will be judged and categorised by the genitalia of their front person and dismissed by some and clung to blindly by others. “I am among friends or am I misled” Jennie sings in the title track.
Ironically Avatarium was very nearly a very different beast. Originally Mikael Akerfeldt was involved with Nicke Andersson on drums. Now this may wet the appetite for some of you but I would probably have avoided that as just another super-group of bored stars.
What has emerged over the last year is a much more-tasty prospect. A new band with a new singer. OK, Marcus Jidell from Evergrey is on guitar and Lars Skold of Tiamat thumps the skins whilst frequent Leif collaborator Carl Westholm tinkles the ivories so there is still the whiff of super-group about Avatarium. However without the large personalities of messrs Akerfeldt and Andersson this group has flourished and found its own voice . This is evident in Birds of Prey and Tides of Telepathy, the latter casting off the doom tag for a more space rock vibe .
The album closes with “Lady of the Lamp” and this track bares the stamp of its singer. Jennie –Ann has spoken in interviews of her influences and not having a metal bent. This song showcases her voice with its textures and power. A mixture of folk /jazz is the only way I can describe her performance here and she certainly channels her childhood heroes Joni Mitchell, Robert Plant and Neil Young. Finishing an album with a slow/ballad is not my first choice. However this one really puts the icing on the cake and Marcus Jidell throws in such a great guitar solo to send the last minute soaring to the heavens I finished my listening session well happy.
(8/10 Matt Mason)