AVATARIUM

Doom Metal / Heavy Psych • Sweden
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Avatarium is a Swedish doom metal band that released their self-titled debut album in 2013. The band features Candlemass bassist Leif Edling, Tiamat drummer Lars Sköld, former Evergrey/Royal Hunt guitarist Marcus Jidell, and Jupiter Society keyboardist Carl Westholm. The group is rounded off by lead singer Jennie-Ann Smith, Marcus Jidell's wife.

Following their debut Avatarium released the EP All I Want in 2014 and their second full-length album, The Girl with the Raven Mask, in 2015.

Leif Edling later stepped down from recording and performance duties but still wrote most of the band's third album, Hurricanes and Halos, released in 2017.

- Biography by adg211288 (last updated May 2017).
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition and Nightfly for the updates

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AVATARIUM Discography

AVATARIUM albums / top albums

AVATARIUM Avatarium album cover 4.14 | 23 ratings
Avatarium
Doom Metal 2013
AVATARIUM The Girl with the Raven Mask album cover 4.04 | 17 ratings
The Girl with the Raven Mask
Doom Metal 2015
AVATARIUM Hurricanes and Halos album cover 4.10 | 13 ratings
Hurricanes and Halos
Heavy Psych 2017
AVATARIUM The Fire I Long For album cover 4.32 | 7 ratings
The Fire I Long For
Doom Metal 2019

AVATARIUM EPs & splits

AVATARIUM Moonhorse album cover 4.67 | 3 ratings
Moonhorse
Doom Metal 2013
AVATARIUM All I Want album cover 4.14 | 7 ratings
All I Want
Doom Metal 2014

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AVATARIUM demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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AVATARIUM Reviews

AVATARIUM The Fire I Long For

Album · 2019 · Doom Metal
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Kev Rowland
Between the second and third album both Leif Edling (bass) and Carl Westholm (keyboards) left Avatarium, being replaced by Mats Rydström and Rickard Nilsson respectively. Then between the third and this the fourth, released towards the end of 2019, drummer Lars Sköld also departed to be replaced by Andreas ”Habo” Johansson, leaving only guitarist Marcus Jidell and singer Jennie-Ann Smith as founding members. I really enjoyed the third album, although some fans felt they had moved too far away from doom and into the early Seventies style they had been playing with on the second, but no-one can say they have continued down that road, as stylistically this sits between their self-titled debut and ‘The Girl With The Raven Mask’. There have been changes in the line-up, yet the band have pulled themselves together and have gone back to their roots – all of which is somewhat strange given that the first two people to leave were both from Candlemass so one might have expected the doom to have gone with them.

We still get the Seventies-style songs where Jidell and Smith show they can do something different, yet they also bring the doom. Leif Edling actually contributed three songs to the album, and he and Jidell continue to work together in other areas, he just isn’t playing with the band. Jidell says the album “is emotional and it will always have those dark elements in it, it is all about light and shadow”. Adds Jennie-Ann: “Leif’s artistry, wilfulness and supreme songwriting is a great inspiration. We have a heritage to take care of but also a responsibility to propose growth and development for our music.” They have certainly done that, as this album contains some of their finest songwriting and performances to date, mixing the doom with dark gothic elements and early Heep. There is a Hammond passage on “Porcelain Skull” far heavier than most guitars ever manage, although Jidell does his best to match it.

Commercial, timeless, accessible yet stretching boundaries, this is doom for the 21st century which has its roots very firmly based on two great British bands from fifty years ago, as they take the best bits of Black Sabbath and Uriah Heep and turn their legacy into their own.

AVATARIUM The Girl with the Raven Mask

Album · 2015 · Doom Metal
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Kev Rowland
This 2015 album was the second from Avatarium, a project put together by Candlemass bassist Leif Edling, drummer Lars Sköld (Tiamat), guitarist Marcus Jidell (Evergrey, Royal Hunt), his wife Jennie-Ann Smith on vocals and Carptree keyboard player Carl Westholm (who also played with Candlemass). I have previously reviewed their debut which was released in 2013, and their third album ‘Hurricanes and Halos’ from 2017, but somehow missed this one out altogether! Although they started life as a doom band, by the time of this album they were already starting to move away from the genre, although still maintaining many of the styles one associates with that.

There are those who will think that Smith got the job as her husband is the guitarist, but while there is undoubtedly some truth in that, she is also a great singer and is definitely there on merit. She lifts the tone of the songs when the accompaniment is incredibly dark, taking it into new areas: it is dark, incredibly gothic, and always with an early Seventies feel. Songs such as “Pearls and Coffins” are exactly the sort of material which used to appear on Uriah Heep albums to change direction and give a lift, smothered in swathes of Hammond Organ. It also allows Smith to throw plenty of emotion and cracks into her vocals, as she relaxes and allows herself to be far more dramatic than when the band is at full bore. I have no idea how I did not listen to this album when it was released but have been more than making up for it recently. Avatarium are definitely one of the top bands playing early Seventies inspired Metal at present, and this is yet another incredibly powerful and consistent release.

AVATARIUM The Fire I Long For

Album · 2019 · Doom Metal
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adg211288
Founded by Leif Edling of Candlemass renown, Avatarium burst onto the doom metal scene in 2013 with their EP Moonhorse and self-titled debut album. Heavy as hell, lyrically poetic, and above all else just damn good, the debut album cemented the band's reputation and proved that they weren't just riding on the name dropping of member's previous work. Second album, 2015's The Girl With the Raven Mask, brought some changes to the band's sound. It wasn't as heavy, though still clearly rooted in doom metal, but more psychedelic influenced. That was exactly what made it so good though: Avatarium did not feel the need to immediately re-hash what worked so well the first time around.

Then Leif Edling left the band. And their sound changed to be much less doom metal based and more firmly rooted in (heavy) psychedelic rock and progressive rock. Yet this was actually quite the paradox, because Edling had still written the majority of third album from 2017, Hurricanes and Halos, even though he didn't play one note on it. So it was obvious that the change in direction away from doom metal hadn't been the result of line-up shifts. Now, Hurricanes and Halos is still pretty fine album, but for this reviewer's money it doesn't get as many revisits as the first two Avatarium records. Which is why I'm happy to say that with fourth full-length The Fire I Long For, Avatarium is back on track. Doom metal is in again.

This could be seen as a double edged sword of course. The first three Avatarium albums, while the general lack of doom metal may have proved a disappointment to many on the last one, had the great benefit that Avatarium had effectively reinvented themselves every time around, but not so much that they alienated fans completely. And while The Fire I Long For brings another change, it's much more of a change back opposed to changing into something new. The album quite comfortably sits alongside The Girl With the Raven Mask in terms of style. Which means that it's pretty psychedelic, with plenty of doom metal riffs, but none that are as crushingly heavy as those found on the debut. As is usual for an Avatarium record, there is also some softer material. Avatarium is one of those rare metal bands that is actually very good at doing softer material though (they are members of a very exclusive club where they keep company with prestigious metal acts like Blind Guardian and err, I can't actually think of another one, that's how exclusive the club is!), so that shouldn't put newcomers off, while returnees will know what to expect.

While we've established that for the first time that a new Avatarium record may not feel as fresh in context of their catalogue, The Fire I Long For does have two things going for it that make it a step up from Hurricanes and Halos. Firstly it's doom metal again as I've pointed out and while Avatarium proved a quite competent heavy psych act on Hurricanes and Halos, they're an exceptional doom metal act. This is the genre they started off in and it's the genre that they shine in. Doom metal, especially the psychedelic influenced kind as Avatarium play, seems to be tailor-made for a singer like Avatarium's Jennie-Ann Smith as well.

That isn't the second reason by the way. The actual second reason is that the song-writing is that much more memorable this time around. There sadly just aren't many details that I can recall about Hurricanes and Halos after some time away from it, except for the excellent opening track Into the Fire / Into the Storm. This isn't true of the first two albums, where hooks flood back without requiring a revisit, no doubt because there's only so long I can go before those albums pull me back. And as for The Fire I Long For, there are already several tracks that have infected me, not least the title track, Voices, and Rubicon. While it is still early days yet, I can't foresee a future where it doesn't go into rotation at least as much as the first two records.

A return to form all round and to be cliché, this was the album I longed for after the last one. Regarding which I have not meant to be disrespectful to in this review despite some comments that even when positive no doubt read as barbed. I quite like Hurricanes and Halos. It's one of those albums I enjoy when I do play it, but I rarely crave it. On the other hand I just love Avatarium, The Girl With the Raven Mask and now The Fire I Long For as well. It's a doom metal highlight for 2019.

AVATARIUM Hurricanes and Halos

Album · 2017 · Heavy Psych
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Nightfly
By today’s standards Avatarium are pretty prolific being onto their third album in four years. Founder member and main songwriter Leaf Edling, suffering from ill health in recent years, is taking more of a backseat roll these days handing over bass duties to new guy Mats Rydström. He has however written most of the songs.

If The Girl With The Raven Mask saw the band taking a step away from the more pure doom direction of the first album then Hurricanes and Halos sees them almost abandoning it entirely. This may not come as good news to some people but Avatarium have still delivered a quality piece of work. Whilst it was already there on the last album the sound is much more retro 70’s hard rock no better demonstrated on opener Into The Fire/Into The Storm. Fans of Deep Purple should lap it up with impressive organ work from Rickard Nilsson. There’s plenty of diversity on the eight compositions with the band also injecting blues and pysch elements with no shortage of melody. The two songs not written by Edling, Road To Jerusalem and When Breath Turns To Air, certainly aren’t inferior in any way and not out of place, showing the band can have a future without him, the former being particularly impressive. Medusa Child might slightly outstay its welcome dragged out with a slow build at the end but overall weak moments are few and far between. The Sky At The Bottom Of The Sea gallops along nicely with a Uriah Heep Easy Livin’ vibe and When Breath Turns To Air is at the opposite end of the spectrum being a slow blues piece. A Kiss (From The End Of The World also has a Uriah Heep feel and probably the albums heaviest moment with its slow insistent riff.

As always, the playing is of a high standard, the newer direction perhaps lending itself better to the expressive and soulful vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith. Marcus Jidell once again shows what a class guitarist he is both on rhythm and lead abandoning the crushingly heavy riffing of the debut for a fuzzier retro sound.

As good as Hurricanes And Halos is I still find it the weakest of their three albums so far but this is no reflection on the quality here, simply a mark of the strength of the first two. However, anyone not happy with the direction the band are heading in these days and wanting more doom can always go and check out Leif Edling’s latest project The Doomsday Kingdom.

AVATARIUM Hurricanes and Halos

Album · 2017 · Heavy Psych
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Warthur
The current "occult rock" scene is a musical subgenre based not on musical features, but on a witchy aesthetic; as such, bands working in this field can crop up in all sorts of different (but related) subgenres, such as doom metal (especially traditional doom), hard rock, and heavy psych.

Furthermore, it's not uncommon for a group to start in one part of this territory and drift to a different one over the course of their careers; Blood Ceremony did it, and now Avatarium have done it, with their latest album completing the transition from Candlemass-esque trad doom to heavy psych that was begun by the preceding Girl In the Raven Mask.

In particular, Rickard Nilsson joining on organ seems to have taken the band down a decidedly Uriah Heep-esque direction - especially audible on The Sky At the Bottom of the Sea - as well as enabling explorations of a sort of doomy proto-prog as on the extended workout Medusa Child. If you ever wanted to know what Candlemass would have sounded like if they had a top-notch female vocalist and had taken their lead from Uriah Heep instead of Black Sabbath, I guess you now have your answer: they sound damn good.

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