I’ve listened to Candlemass since their 1986 debut LP (Epicus Doomicus Metallicus) and while I would never consider myself a rabid fan of the band, I’ve always found something worthwhile in each of their releases. When I heard that bassist Leif Edling had a new project that was in the Doom vein, I had to check it out. While Avatarium isn’t exactly Candlemass, they do have some strong similarities. The main differences between the two bands are that Avatarium has a female vocalist, Jennie-Ann Smith, and the music is decidedly more Hard Rock-inspired, where Candlemass was, of course, more Metal. This doesn’t stop Avatarium from being heavy, though. Much of this album sounds like a cross between Trouble and Candlemass, but with strong doses of Stoner and Psychedelic Doom thrown in to make things interesting. Jennie-Ann Smith doesn’t have the lungs of Messiah Marcolin or Robert Lowe, but her voice fits the music far better than a more operatic singer or a banshee-wailer would have. She has something of a Bluesy style that has the versatility to work with both the Hard Rock/Psychedelic stuff and the harder-hitting Metal parts, giving the band a wider range of music to explore. For a debut release, Avatarium is very interesting. While listening to this, I wanted the band to go further into the Psychedelic Doom direction, mostly because the lyrics are pretty “out there.” There are times when that element does come in, but it’s never as pervasive as I thought it should be. Still, the music is potent enough to satisfy most fans of straight-out Doom Metal in the vein of Trouble or Cathedral. It’s an impressive effort and hopefully Avatarium will continue on as a full band. With Leif also in Candlemass, I would hate to see this be a one-off project.
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