AVATARIUM — The Girl with the Raven Mask (review)

AVATARIUM — The Girl with the Raven Mask album cover Album · 2015 · Doom Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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