Avatarium – Death, Where Is Your Sting (AFM Records)

Monday, 17th October 2022
Rating: 9 / 10

The prolific decade of Swedish doom rock/metal act Avatarium continues since their start in the early 2010’s as the fifth full-length Death, Where Is Your Sting hits the streets. Firmly establishing themselves now outside the spectrum of Leif Edling, the quintet strides as an entity all on its own – vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith taking over the lyrical content of a religious, psychological, and philosophical nature to mirror the moody musical performances on display. The array of brush strokes from cello to acoustic guitars, organs to keyboards, beyond the natural electric instrumentation produces eight tracks that bristle in dynamic flight – hitting all the ideal touching moments necessary to captivate while allowing deeper dives upon successive playbacks.

When one thinks of doom in a rock/metal context, often morose, somber, slower tempos dripping in depressive, dreary atmosphere come to the forefront – yet Avatarium also inject certain tracks with this promise of uplifting vocal melodies or supporting power chords that elevate listeners to their feet in rapture applause. The title track contains those key components – Jennie’s passionate, rising nature to the heavens for certain verse/ chorus work plus the acoustic/electric guitar play from Marcus Jidell that drifts from disciplined, Wild West textures to cultural hope makes this song an instant head turning stand out. Sparse elements can soothe the subsequent heavier passage – the openness for a bass part that fuels the groovy drum back beat and exotic guitar textures to make “God Is Silent” sinister, especially when the crushing doom metal instrumental mid-section hits with its spirited, bluesy lead break. Everything from 60’s psychedelia to straight forward soft rock angles weave themselves into the conventional heavier doom metal vernacular, allowing the band to squeeze out deeper emotional connection that differentiates itself from the pack. The circular main musical hooks for “Mother Can You Hear Me Now” give the airy melodies through Jennie-Ann that much more plaintive impact, while those who want something more Candlemass-oriented will dig the evil organ/guitar foundation that seesaws next to softer, acoustic-led verses during “Stockholm”.

Must be something in the water that takes Swedish musicians to that upper tier for memorable songwriting in music. Death, Where Is Your Sting (a title inspired by the pandemic) brings Avatarium to that next level of engagement with the faithful who support this style – compositions plus musical performances that resonate for years to decades down the road.

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