Avatarium – The Fire I Long For (Nuclear Blast)

Wednesday, 20th November 2019
Rating: 8.5/10

Vibrant times for doom metal these days. Always lurking beneath the surface during thrash and death metal heydays of the 80’s and 90’s, whether it’s the incessant inspiration of Black Sabbath and the offspring or the elevation of work by Trouble, Candlemass, Cathedral, and Solitude Aeturnus among others, it’s quite a potent time for artists to explore the despair and gloom within doom. Swedish act Avatarium began in 2012 as a side-offering for bassist Leif Edling and ex-Evergrey guitarist Marcus Jidell – developing into a full band by 2013 and churning out three albums along the way. Leif has stepped away, with bassist Mats Rydström filling the position – but the quintet move forward for their fourth full-length, The Fire I Long For, another head-turning nine-song outing into the depths of doom metal, with 70’s blues rock and progressive nuances filtering in to captivate, enthrall, and reach into the depth of your soul.

Marcus uses multiple electric and acoustic guitars to express the layers of musical constructs – exuding an old Wild West atmosphere during the ballad “Lay Me Down” which features brilliant circular organ / keyboard supplementation and ringing out notes, while the massive follow-up “Porcelain Skull” allows the man’s deep knowledge of slow, brooding heavy chords to crush as the tempo picks up to a mid-paced shuffle groove in spots. An obvious highlight for Avatarium resides in the splendid and versatile vocal melodies emanating from Jennie-Ann Smith. Her haunting nature to be bluesy, expressive, and tender all within a specific framework/arrangement and just channel the right mood and emotion is a rare treat that we get to experience throughout the record – check out opener “Voices” as well as a haunting in the shadows effort like “Great Beyond” for two captivating tracks that she brings to that next level of retention. The band aren’t afraid to ride a specific riff and just let it organically grow forth – organist Rickard Nilsson as equal to the sonic task as Marcus, his Deep Purple to Uriah Heep and Rainbow influences shimmering on a bouncy/energetic number like “Rubicon” while properly framing his thoughtful ivory passages for the calmer “Stars They Move”.

The Fire I Long For proves Avatarium will be just fine post-Edling and could gain decent momentum beyond the conventional doom metal crowd into people who just love emotionally-driven, bluesy hard rock/metal.

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