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Avatarium: The Fire I Long For

Swedish doom/prog-rock act Avatarium burst on the scene in 2013 with their stupendous self-titled debut, led by Candlemass founder/bassist/songwriter Leif Edling and the gorgeous vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith, which was followed up two years later with the equally fine The Girl With the Raven Mask. 2017 saw their third album released Hurricanes and Halos, which, though a fine record, clearly was a step down from the previous two recordings. In short order, Edling stepped down from performances with the band due to health issues, as well as to dedicate more time to Candlemass, but he still helps out with songwriting and even contributes a couple of tunes to their latest Nuclear Blast release The Fire I Long For. Comprising the band now alongside Smith are guitarist (and husband) Marcus Jidell (ex-Evergrey/Soen/Royal Hunt), drummer Andreas ”Habo” Johansson, bassist Mats Rydström, and keyboard player Rickard Nilsson.

Though still retaining plenty of their doom essence, The Fire I Long For certainly shows some different sides to the band this time around. "Voices" busts out of the gate with plenty of ferocious doom riffing in the spirit of vintage Candlemass, Jennie-Ann's stellar vocals shooting to the heavens and Nilsson dropping in a sizzling Hammond organ solo over those crushing riffs. Jidell also contributes a scorching guitar solo dripping with bluesy emotion. Prog meets doom for an easy album highlight! "Rubicon" is another song that brings out the fuzz, as crushing guitars collide with spooky keys and massive grooves, the chorus super catchy with its psychedelic hooks. All killer, no filler. "Lay Me Down" is the first real departure on the album, a folky, roots/blues/country twang of a track with ominous atmosphere, acoustic guitars, chilling electric piano & organ, and Smith's haunting vocal. Different, but it works. The doom is back for "Porcelain Skull", fuzz guitars cascading off the mountain and meeting Hammond organ & crashing drums, while "Shake the Demon" again brings some different flavors, the band opting for an upbeat '60s psyche/biker rock vibe, that again, might sound bizarre for an Avatarium album but it's quite successful. "Great Beyond" continues the trend of alternate sounds for the band, a Pink Floyd/Porcupine Tree styled dreamy prog-rocker with layers of keyboard textures and ethereal vocals from Jennie-Ann, before the band comes back with some monolithic melancholy doom for the title track, complete with some slide guitars and keyboard effects. Perhaps the heaviest tune here might be "Epitaph of Heroes", the band digging into their Candlemass roots (written by Edling of course) and featuring some killer riffs courtesy of Jidell, and the album concludes with the lovely piano/vocal piece "Stars They Move".

The Fire I Long For might not be as immediately 'epic' sounding as the bands first two releases, but it certainly shows a band growing, maturing, and adding new elements to their already potent arsenal. This was a late 2019 release that I'm sure many might have missed but you'll clearly want to put on your radar immediately.

Track Listing
01. Voices
02. Rubicon
03. Lay Me Down
04. Porcelain Skull
05. Shake That Demon
06. Great Beyond
07. The Fire I Long For
08. Epitaph Of Heroes
09. Stars They Move

Added: April 4th 2020
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 506
Language: english

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