AVATARIUM

(SWEDEN)

THE GIRL WITH THE RAVEN MASK

(2015)
LABEL:

NUCLEAR BLAST

GENRE:

DOOM

TAGS:
Female vocals, Old School
"A perfect balance between Doom and 70's hard rock, "The Girl With The Raven Mask" proves that Avatarium is no longer just the parallel project of the founder of Candlemass but a full-fledged band built to last."
CHILDERIC THOR (18.11.2015)  
4/5
(0) opinions (0) comment(s)
Worried to see that he wasn't taking part in the tour that followed the release of Avatarium's first album, we thought Leif Edling had already put an end to this adventure, letting the band fly on its own wings, after having nevertheless composed the whole of his first try, even if the EP "All I Want", delivered one year later, had contributed to reassure us a bit. 

Luckily, this is not the case and the legendary Candlemass bass player is still there, alongside a dream team made up of faithful fans he's known for a long time, from drummer Lars Skold to keyboardist Carl Westholm, without forgetting guitarist Marcus Jidell and his friend, Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals. While waiting for the return of his former band, which is already making us salivate, if only because Mats Leven, inducted official singer of the Swedes, will be behind the mike, Edling offers Avatarium a second offering awaited like the Grail of a Heavy Doom combining heaviness and feminine delicacy. 

If the veteran's signature (more than thirty years of career, let's recall) is of course easily identifiable, as well as his telluric bass lines, notably on the eponymous primer, "The Girl With The Raven Mask" seems this time more like a collective effort, allowing each musician to express himself widely and to shine. Jidell also takes advantage of this opportunity to assert his brand, his influences, those of the man in black in particular, witness his playing on 'Hypnotized', on which hovers the shadow of the old Purple, or even more progressive, like the massive 'The Master Thief', slow breathing, heavy and silky at the same time. 

Deprived of a monumental opening on a par with 'Moonhorse', and with the effect of surprise no longer playing, this second vintage seems at first inferior to its predecessor. This is not the case, however, but the work requires attention and a good number of immersions so that its treasures, until then deeply buried, can spring up. The more we listen to it, the more we realize how much "The Girl With The Raven" is once again a great record, rich of beautiful nuances. 

Between some rare nervous fireworks, nimbed with Hammond organ ('Run Killer Run') and a curious final complaint, 'In My Time Of Dying', a kind of haunting psychedelic and skeletal trip, almost Zeppelinian in spirit, the album is above all based on the restraint of finely chiselled haunted ambiences draped like a shroud of compositions all in progression. 

Without putting a pachydermic heaviness in fallow, you only have to listen to the first bars of 'The January Sea' to be convinced of it, the band sculpts a much more subtle art where they merge in a perfect balance, at the bottom of a dark colored crucible, flamboyant guitar lines ('Ghostlight'), and seventies scents, a magical combination illustrated by the gigantic 'Pearls And Coffins', a delicate pulsation which, however, rumbles with an underground force and is zebraised by the guitarist's claws hits. 

Of course, this review would not be complete without mentioning the bewitching performance of Jennie-Ann Smith, whose vocal, the buttress of this cathedral, demonstrates that it is possible to couple Doom and female voices without sinking into marshmallow and or Gothic miserabilism, participating on the contrary in an emotional nobility and unheard-of firepower. 

Digging the furrow started by its predecessor, "The Girl With The Raven Mask" does better than transforming the try, an opus of a very great richness of writing which proves that Avatarium is not only the parallel project of the founder of Candlemass, but a band in its own right cut to last.
- Official website
SIMILAR BANDS:
CANDLEMASS, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW

TRACK LISTING:
01. Girl With The Raven Mask
02. The January Sea
03. Pearls And Coffins
04. Hypnotized
05. Ghostlight
06. Run Killer Run
07. Iron Mule
08. The Master Thief

LINEUP:
Carl Westholm: Claviers
Jennie-ann Smith: Chant
Lars Sköld: Batterie
Leif Edling: Basse
Marcus Jidell: Guitares
   
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