Some of these things “we miss” during the year are understandably obscure and I don’t lose much sleep worrying about the overall health of my Metal Detector. Sometimes however, we whiff on a biggie and are left wondering if our collective ear to the metal underground needs a hearing aid (of steel). This is one of said whiffs. That’s because Avatarium is the new project of none other than Leif Fucking Edling (Candlemass, Krux, Abstract Algebra, etc.) and since the man is one of the modern-day Lords of Doom, we clearly should have seen this coming sooner. This eponymous album features Leif along with a few friends he’s worked with in the past and introduces the vocal talents of one Jennie-Ann Smith. The band’s approach bears resemeblence to the classic Candlemass style with big, bruising doom riffs aplenty, but also incorporates the strangeness of Tiamat and the psychedelic elements of Hexvessel along with the 70s rock of Jethro Tull and Blue Oyster Cult. The result is a pretty tasty slice of doom with intriguingly trippy bells and whistles and in a year where awesome doom was somewhat scares, this is a nice surprise.
Tracks like “Moonhorse” power along with typically burly doom riffs like you’d hear on any Candlesmass or Spiritual Beggars album, but Jennie-Ann’s vocals really move the music beyond typical doom and result in a great song. She has a very sweet, crisp and slightly sad voice perfect for 70s rock and folk music, but it works very well alongside the heavy guitar. Her delivery, along with the softer elements the band dabbles in make the music feel both fresh and interesting. “Pandora’s Egg” is dreamy and sedate, but Jenni-Ann’s vocals also get edgy and creepy at times and remind me of Tam Simpson of long defunct Sacrilege. There’s a big hippie revolution vibe throughout “Boneflower” and “Tides of Telepathy” that’s similar to Sabbath Assembly and both are enchanting when mixed with the bigger doom elements and “Lady in the Lamp” is just flat out beautiful. All the songs work well and really grow and blossom with repeat spins.
The well-traveled Marcus Jidell (ex-Candlemass, ex-Evergrey, etc) lays down some convincing doom notes, but I was more taken with his melodic solos (especially during “Bird of Prey”) and his forays into 70s psychedelic rock. The man has chops for sure and his playing really classes up the already elegant proceedings. When you add Jennie-Ann’s sweet, yet powerful singing and some tasteful keyboard/piano work from Carl Westholm, this ends up being a little gem of doomy, but strangely upbeat tuneage with a big replay factor.
Well worth checking out and a possible inclusion on my End of Year list. I’ve got no idea how we missed this, but I blame AMG (and Obama). We’re all very sorry, your Leifness!