In a way, doom metal is always a journey back in time to when Black Sabbath started it all. Heavy metal has developed quite a lot in the meantime – with lots of subgenres – but doom metal is still the one subgenre that is closer to heavy metal’s roots than any other genre. It simply celebrates where our favourite genre came from. Although, ‘celebrate’ is not really the word that comes to one’s mind when listening to doom Metal. It is simply too dark for that. And that is where its heaviness is coming from. It is not the full force frontal attack like the one you would expect from a death metal album, it is more about creating a dark atmosphere, an atmosphere that goes right under your skin.
And yes, Avatarium definitely fits the idea that stands behind its chosen genre. The band really manages to create an artistic album where beauty fuses with a truly dark atmosphere. Jennie-Ann Smith’s vocals are beyond any doubt essential in this respect. In fact, I would go as far as to describe her voice as the female version of Ronnie James Dio. And yes, she does have the skills, the blues, and the necessary heaviness for this kind of comparison! Actually, I would love to see her doing a Dio cover.
But it would be unfair to heap all the praise on her, because her voice would not be able to shine like that without the rest of the band. Imagine a late 60s, or early 70s hard rock band, or a very early metal band where it is still hard to decide whether one should really talk about a hard rock/heavy rock or heavy metal band. So no, they do not play full blown heavy metal, but as I argued above, that is exactly one of doom metal’s characteristics to which Avatarium adheres to. So yes, you do get riffs and solos in the heavy metal style, but you also get very atmospheric keyboard passages, which is rare for heavy metal the way most fans understand and love it.
Particularly the first song deserves a mention here. There is simply an amazing vibe about the song. Smith’s voice, the keyboards and the supportive guitar riffs create a sound carpet that simply takes you away! One can easily imagine lots of fans at a gig being mesmerised by the song, while others simply dance away in 60s/70s style! The next song “The January Sea” is more the “War Pigs” style heaviness, while other songs are much more difficult to describe. Take “Run Killer Run” as the most difficult example, for instance. There is that certain atmospheric vibe again, the kind of atmosphere you’d expect from early Black Sabbath and Dio, but something is still different. Is it more modern, i.e. 80s (modern …) style? Or is it even more traditional with a certain blues vibe?
I am undecided about this, but I am sure that I love this album! It is nothing I would want to listen to 24/7, but it surely is the kind of album that you really want to have in your collection if you are even remotely a fan of this kind of music! Nine devils!
- Girl With The Raven Mask
- The January Sea
- Pearls And Coffins
- Run Killer Run
- Iron Mule
- The Master Thief
Playing time: 50:03
Release date: 23 October 2015
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Website: Avatarium (Facebook)