Saturday 9 November 2013

Avatarium - S/T (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 01.11.2013
Label : Nuclear Blast

Avatarium , S/T album track listing :
 1. Moonhorse 8:41
2. Pandoras Egg 6:09
3. Avatarium 8:10
4. Boneflower 5:25
5. Bird Of Prey 6:37
6. Tides Of Telepathy 7:11
7. Lady In The Lamp 6:57
Bio :
AVATARIUM has only been “alive” for about 8 months, but already is the word spreading rapidly about this unique band and it’s special blend of heavy adventurous music. JETHRO TULL, BLUE ÖYSTER CULT, BLACK SABBATH, RAINBOW... It’s all there together with some delicate moments of beauty and frailness that you rarely find in a band these days. In AVATARIUMS music you will also hear tangents of pop and 60’s influences.
It all began last winter when Leif needed help to demo a couple of songs he was working on, and Marcus offered to help. Weeks turned into months and a few songs became a full length album that is being mixed as we speak by well known Swedish engineer Ronny Lahti. AVATARIUM the album, will be out November 22.
If you think AVATARIUM is a band with young untried musicians, you are very wrong.
Plenty of road wear here! Leif has of course been writing and playing with CANDELMASS (and KRUX) since the dawn of time and Marcus has played guitar with acts as EVERGREY and ROYAL HUNT. Dr Carl is the man behind cool prog bands like JUPITER SOCIETY and CARP TREE and Lars is behind the drums in TIAMAT when not in AVATARIUM. Together with Jennie-Ann these guys make an unbeatable unit that will stop for nothing!

The Band :
Jennie-Ann Smith | vocals 
Marcus Jidell | guitars
Leif Edling | bass
Lars Sköld | drums
Carl Westholm | keyboard

Review :
Leif Edling's involvement in any doom project is bound to bring excitement with it; Avatarium's eponymous debut is no exception.  The press release references Jethro Tull and BOC along with more standard Sabbath/Rainbow compass points. The record is unusual, doomy, ethereal, progressive, melancholy and features a lightness of touch unusual in most of the doom genre.
The vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith make a huge difference in marking out this release as something unusual- her voice has the perfect mix of sadness and drama that music like this deserves.
First track Moonhorse explores the dreams and questions of a child- and does so very effectively over folky passages and iron clad riffing. Pandora's Egg features the superb refrain “egg of evil” and offers light and shade again. Avatarium (the track) starts lightly but puts on weight as the song builds. Smith's voice positively soars as the band play dynamically.
The album contains seven tracks, but two of those are over eight minutes in length. There is nothing under five minutes on here and the album is all the better for this- the songs have a chance to breathe and develop and make use of the light and shade referenced above. Boneflower explores  a suicide theme that piqued my interest and features deft changes between fleeter of foot verse passages and doom laden chorus sections. The Jethro Tull reference point makes sense here- the band play in an almost jazzy way (see Songs for The Wood and Aqualung for pointers) while when playing heavy the sound is weighty indeed. Carl Westholm adds genuinely worthwhile keyboard, underpinned by Edling's bass while Marcus Jidell and Lars Skold also play dexterously on guitar and drums respectively.

Bird of Prey starts whimsically before stamping its foot down. Sinister avian themes abound in the lyrics prior to some jazzy guitar soloing as the tempo tilts along nicely. Tides of Telepathy starts with an insistent drum tattoo that heralds a strong guitar motif with added keyboard atmospherics. The tempo of the verses is slow-ish, and the mood is sombre and restrained. The chorus is much more histrionic in its approach but with some neat twists and turns. The track works cyclically, making the most of its stronger elements, as they are returned to and built upon. The closing minute or so is solo packed and noisy (sort of like a doom version of Crazy Horse!) and brings us to the album's final track. Lady in the Lamp delivers nigh on seven minutes of melancholic star gazing. The best elements of BOC and Rainbow are indeed recalled here- the track builds well and only really enters the territory of bombast in the closing stages to close the album loudly and with full force.
If you enjoy the Witchcraft debut, early Rainbow, black and white era BOC and Tull in their heavier moments you will find much to enjoy here. This is one of the finest doom releases of the year- unique and melancholy it is a long way from what the rest of the scene is doing and is all the stronger for it. Don't take my word for it- check it out and find out for yourself.

Words by : Richard Maw

You can buy it here