Avatarium are a relatively new act, forming in 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden. Leif Edling, founding member and bassist for Candlemass, formed the group with guitarist Marcus Jidell (formerly of Evergrey and Royal Hunt), Jidell’s wife, singer Jennie-Ann Smith, drummer Lars Sköld (ex-Tiamat), and keyboardist Carl Westholm. Westholm and Eidling left in 2016 and 2017 respectively, giving way to new additions Rickard Nilsson and Mats Rydström. Signed to Nuclear Blast Records since 2013, the band has released two EPs and four studio albums, the most recent of which came out last month, titled The Fire I Long For.
Given the founders of the group, the overall sound of Avatarium is rooted in slow, brooding doom metal. Jennie-Ann Smith’s vocals have a folksy, roots sort of tone to them, bringing the music down to earth just a little. The guitars have some fuzz effects on them, hearkening back to doom progenitors Black Sabbath. Each track has its own unnerving tone to it, and it all makes for a fine release.
Fuzz-laden guitars usher in the opening track "Voices," The guitar solo soars above the track, and the vocals are a treat to hear against the rhythm section's darker tones. "Rubicon" further proves that Smith's voice is perfect for the style her band plays. The strongest track from the album, "Lay Me Down," has plenty of folk flavor to be enjoyed, yet is filled with enough dread to pass as doom metal, even to the untrained ear. The riffing on "Porcelain Skull" is anything but fragile, and the outro guitar solo closes out the first half of the record nicely.
The fuzz pedal returns to the guitar tones for "The Great Beyond," setting it apart from the other tracks. The title track, "The Fire I Long For," has a grand, sweeping feel to it, and might be second place for strongest on the album. Giving that a run for its money would be "Epitaph of Heroes," with its eerie, uneasy feeling worthy of its title. Closing the album is a piano ballad, the haunting "Stars They Move." Taking a more jazz approach, the track deviates from the more folk-oriented rest of the album, though that standing out certainly helps put punctuation on this disc.
The Fire I Long For is a slow burn, even at just forty-four minutes in total. It is an earthy record that knows where it stands, and it stands as a fine work of metal, regardless of how one chooses to pigeonhole its subgenre.
The Fire I Long For is available via Nuclear Blast Records.