Avatarium - 'The Fire I Belong For'

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Avatarium - 'The Fire I Belong For'

Each spin reveals its power, its beauty and its ability to take the listener to places they would normally fear to tread.

I very much doubt that founding member and brainchild Leif Edling (Candlemass) would ever have imagined that Avatarium, the "project" he created in 2012, would reach their fourth album within the space of just seven years. However, with the assistance and expertise of chief protagonists Marcus Jidell (guitars) and his wife Jennie-Ann Smith (vocals) they have forged a magical mixture of Doom Metal, Heavy Metal and Classic Rock that are all encapsulated within an eerily melodic yet trepidatory soundscape.

Since their eponymous debut in 2013, this Swedish outfit have matured and developed their craft into the formidable machine they now are. From their Doom Metal conception, they slowly began to expand and fine-tune their sound. Sophomore release 'The Girl With The Raven Mask' (2015) alongside its successor 'Hurricanes And Halos' (2017) clearly illustrated the group's progressive vision and musical perspicacity in encompassing both dark and light within each composition's structure. Having said that, 'The Fire I Long For' sees them returning to their roots somewhat. I was a little disappointed with their retrogression upon my first listen, however after several spins the sheer quality and beauty began to show itself.

With the exception of the rifferiffic 'Shake That Demon', all the tracks are slow-to-mid-tempo pace and firmly rooted in Doom Metal territory. That's not to say that the foot-stomping, foreboding and ferocious soundscape is at all laborious – far from it.

Yes, the Doom-laden rhythm section, courtesy of drummer Lars Sköld and bassist Mats Rydström, is powerful to the extreme, however, Jidell's sublime guitar contributions and Rickard Nilsson's keyboards/organ diminish the intensity somewhat. Rising above all this, like a dove hovering over Hades, are Smith's seraphic and evocative vocals, which ensure a fascinating listening experience throughout.

Opener 'Voices', 'Porcelain Skull' and 'Epitaph Of Heroes' take the listener back to those bone-crushing days of the debut; they're funereal in delivery yet juxtaposed with a vigorous, cinematic ambience. The lead-single 'Rubicon' and the title track illustrate the band at the top of their game through songs that are epic, Progressive, melodic, forceful and thought-provoking. Temporarily diluting the overall vehemence are the haunting, ethereal and semi-orchestral compositions 'Lay Me Down', 'Great Beyond' and the superlative album closer 'Stars They Move', the latter a perfect representation of Smith's vocal mastery.

This is another stunning slow-burner that with each spin reveals its power, its beauty and its ability to take the listener to places they would normally fear to tread.

Dave Crompton

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