Avatarium is a band I’ve been following ever since their debut a few years ago. Started by Candlemass leader Leif Edling, former The Hunt axeman Marcus Jidell, and his wife Jennie-Anne Smith, the band has always mixed doom metal with an operatic, sometimes soft theatricality. Their first and second records were excellent displays of intricate songwriting and heavy, catchy hooks. Needless to say, I was excited for this third album, Hurricanes and Halos (which perfectly describes the band’s sound). An interesting thing to note is this is their first record without bassist and tour-de-force Leif Edling performing, though he contributed to the songwriting.
The band continues to show off their always appreciated variety in this record, whether it be the traditional metal scorching opener “Into the Fire – Into the Storm,” the wonderfully melodic mid-tempo adventure that is “Road to Jerusalem,” or the somber and weeping instrumental title track that finishes the record. Jennie-Anne Smith as always has a captivating voice, guiding the music through the dark and light with charisma. Similarly, Marcus Jidell modifies his guitar playing to whatever each song calls for, showing versitility.
Immediately, “Medusa Child,” and “A Kiss (From the End of the World)” stand out. The former follows the same formula as their debut hit “Moonhorse”. It weaves in between epic crushing verses and a delicate chorus, although the song gets a bit less interesting in the second half. The story is intriguing too. All Medusa’s child wants to do it to be a normal kid, but is cursed with an unfortunate condition. The track features snake rattles and vocals from what sounds like a kid, both adding to the atmosphere. “A Kiss (From the End of the World)” is classic doom metal through and through. The refrain is epic, apocalyptic, yet beautiful as all hell.
Hurricanes and Halos is very much in line with their first two LPs. It has a few awesome tracks that I will have on rotation, and some others that are more forgettable. Though I will say that this record has more consistently interesting tracks compared to before. The more I listen to it, there more elements I find that I want to go back to. The band continues to branch out and show off different styles. Now I really hope they come to The States sometime soon!
1. Into the Fire – Into the Storm
2. The Starless Sleep
3. Road to Jerusalem
4. Medusa Child
5. The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea
6. When Breath Turns to Air
7. A Kiss (From the End of the World)
8. Hurricanes and Halos
Jennie-Ann Smith – Vocals
Marcus Jidell – Guitar
Lars Sköld – Drums
Mats Rydström – Bass
Rickard Nilsson – Organ