Avatarium – “Hurricanes And Halos” (Nuclear Blast)
The genius of Leif Edling knows no bounds. Famed through Candlemass, in 2013 his next brainchild was formed. Mixing Sabbath with Rainbow, Purple and even some very ‘umble Uriah Heep, Avatarium was born. Heavy, dark and poetic is how the music was described, although I would say its incredible beauty and sheer class moves it well beyond the musty doom label many give it. “Hurricanes And Halos” is the band’s 3rd release, and it’s pretty apt given what I’ve just said given the blinding levels of musicianship that collude to produce some of the most moving yet feisty music I’ve heard in while. Led by the sultry femme tones of Jennie-Ann Smith, the guitar work of Marcus Jidell is nothing short of gripping, from heart breaking melodies to funky lead breaks and passionate Blackmore-esque soloing, as the 8 tracks holding you static through their flowing energy and needless to say, ultra catchiness. Despite intensity here n there, there’s a natural rhythm to the album, with a very uncontrived vibe to the band’s performance, and thus highly suited to the band’s darkish stoner groove. Add in Carl Westholm’s atmospheric keyboards, which occasionally burst into an organ frenzy a la John Lord, and you’ve got yet another winner here. Doing just that on the rocking opener of ‘Into The Storm’, its pomp groove and Smith crooning of the ‘….lonely assassin, bringing in the thunder…’ tells the epic tale before Jidell’s guitar explodes and Westholm goes into full boogie mode sending me into emotional overload! As the dark clouds and the fuzz guitars twist into the bass, ‘Medusa Child’ rages into a doom chorus as Smith screams like the cursed gorgon herself, contrasted by twisted childlike melodies before Westholm launches his own keyboard solo followed by an ambient passage of feedback and plucked guitar builds leading into a climax of crescendo keys and wailing guitars – superb! As for the poetry, well its throughout the album but the Rainbow like ‘A Kiss (From The End Of The World)’ really captured my heart through Smith’s powerful tones and Westholm’s stunning keys, beautifully topped off by some sliding guitar melodies by Jidell – not to forget his teasing licks – all encapsulated by the unforgettable chorus. Although these were the tracks that overloaded me, the album as a whole was an incredible experience from start to finish, going well beyond technicality or even music to pure audio pleasure of the highest degree. Indeed, the genius of Leif Edling knows no bounds.