Paradoxically I loved Avatarium on “Girl with the Raven Mask” (one of my favorite album of all times), after they had already made their great debut. A child of Leif Edling, they combined the Candlemass Epic Doom with 70’s rock formats, starring Jennie Ann Smith’s voice and her jazz / blues background. From the third album, Leif remained both a friend and a composer (also collaborating with guitarist Marcus Jidell on both Krux and Doomsday Kingdom), thus beginning a transitional period for the band. In “Hurricanes and Halos”, Leif has highlighted a more classic rock approach, with precise references to Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, while Jidell-Smith’s first compositions being also extremely interesting. Loyal to their bi-annual appointment, “The fire I long for” is the band’s new step, now featuring Marcus Jidell (guitars), Jennie Ann Smith (vocals), Mats Rydstrom (bass), with his first show at that magical night in An Club in February ’16, Richard Nillson (keys) and Andreas Johansson (drums).
What do Avatarium have to offer with their new album? First and foremost the standard values are Jennie-Ann Smith’s charismatic voice, Marcus’s fuzzy slow guitars and the technical excellence of all members. As far as the compositions are concerned which is the most important part, Leif Edling’s name appears in only three songs, with the rest belonging to Jidell-Smith. The result is an album featuring all of their faces and to our surprise a turn to their past. We have Doom, 70’s Classic Rock, emotional ballads and bluesy moments. More specifically, their Doom comeback consists of “Voices”, “Porcelain Skull” (its riff could easily be included in “Girl with the Raven Mask”), “Great Beyond” (with a slightly more modern vocal approach with distortion) and “Epitaph of Heroes” (a massive and atmospheric Candlemass track, the longest and best of the heavy ones). “Shake that Demon” is the only up tempo song on the album where Jennie sounds like a female DIO (after all she is), sounding like Rainbow, and we go to the best and most interesting songs from here. The single “Rubicon” is rhythmic and bluesy (it has piano), being very catchy and upbeat compared to their standards, while their love for Led Zeppelin is evident in the dark folky – Americana named “Lay me down”. The album closes with “Stars they move” which as incredible as it sounds is a composition by Edling. Stripped, delicate and touching, it brings out all the charm in Jennie’s voice, reminiscent to the soundrack of a lost jazz musical from the ’70s.
I deliberately left for the end the “The fire I long for” which is an emotional Epic! A slow, dramatic ballad, with intense chorus and important and beautiful lyrics for the need for life, it shows what Jidell-Smith can offer! With prominent Blackmore melodic lines on the guitar, it’s one of the songs you never want to end. This is, along with the production that defines the overall dramatic and melancholic atmosphere of the album and was rightly chosen as its title.
The Swedes are evolving, looking ahead, without forgetting their past. What else is there to ask for? But to find the promoter who will bring them back to Greece. Quality and greatness that is hard to forget.