The so called ‘last album’ by Candlemass in 2012 was a harrowing reminder that the seemingly immortal bands so many cherish will not last forever.
Whilst fans needed some time in solitude to get over this revelation, Candlemass bassist and song writer Leif Edling got to work with his next musical venture, the mysterious Avatarium. Formed with fellow experienced Swedes including the surprising choice of female vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith, Avatarium have released their debut self-titled album to a nervous audience unsure of what to expect.
From the opening notes of ‘Moonhorse’ you would be forgiven for believing this is another Candlemass record, with Lief’s trademark gloomy and melodic riffing sounding almost identical to something off most recent opus ’Psalms For The Dead.’
The song continues in this vein until reaching a much more delicate moment to compliment Jennie-Ann’s soothing vocals which is where the broadening of their musical spectrum begins to show. This pattern of switching between crushingly heavy and gentle melodic riffs is something which features in almost every song on this album and proves their most distinctive feature.
It is debut single ‘Boneflower’ however where the band free themselves from the shackles of their previous bands with a much more individual style. Sounding psychedelic and catchy but also having the punch to attract heavier fans, this single is where Avatarium show they are more than a ‘project,’ with a great deal of emotion and character oozing from the song.
Apart from Leif’s undeniable riff mastery it is Jennie-Ann who carries songs such as this with a very commanding voice that can be quite ballsy compared to what many perceive to be the typical female vocal sound. This voice is still obviously going to be an acquired taste but easily has more staying power than many modern female fronted acts that seem to place looks first and voice second.
Another thing that many will find an acquired taste on this debut is the intriguing and down right oddball lyrics. ‘Pandora’s Egg’ sums up their interesting lyrical perspective, painting some really great imagery that will please those looking for something different, but may alienate those stuck in their ways.
The true standout moment for Avatarium is album closer ‘Lady In The Lamp’ where everything the band appears to be aiming for seamlessly comes together. An atmospheric introduction leads into an absolute monstrous riff that can compete with anything else released in 2013 in terms of its pure power and has some true guitar heroics from Marcus Jidell.
Avatarium can be proud to have created something that is edging outside of what is expected whilst holding on to many of the musical values Candlemass fans hold so dear. May all in doubters be damned for believing Lief would put a foot wrong with such musical alchemy at his side.
Scribed by: Alex Varley