Avatarium – “The Girl With The Raven Mask” (Nuclear Blast Records)
Doom has always been in the blood of Leif Edling. From his days in the legendary Candlemass his awesome compositions and onstage presence have made their mark on Swedish Doom. Now with Avatarium, his next great adventure has already begun with the release of their respected “All I Want” EP last year that set the precedent for this sophomore. Naturally the Candlemass element is there, mainly in the heavy back end and when doom mode is engaged, but going beyond the expected sound where other bands comfortably prefer to stay, Avatarium also manifest their lighter influences in the hippy rock of 60’s bands like Cream and Mountain. Vividly captured in the astounding vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith, whose ethereal touch dances magically with husband guitarist Marcus Jidell’s fluid guitar work and psychedelic percussionist Michael Blair, who has worked with Tom Waits and Lou Reed, they bring a wonderfully atmospheric effect to this album – that is, until the ridiculously loud organ and Rhodes piano of Carl Westholm comes crashing in! Never have I heard keyboards so prominent and at times overpowering in the mix but its all there thickly, along bountiful layers of fuzz and psychedelia on cool songs like the epic ‘Ghostlight’ or the groovy ‘Run Killer Run’ and the somber, ultra psych doom of ‘The Master Thief’, with its far out guitar and crushing keyboards. Oozing superior musicianship with veteran levels of talent, Avatarium are another Leif Edling class act fast in ascendancy and this release is simply unmissable.