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Avatarium - 'Hurricanes And Halos' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/d5/0c/b7/Avatarium-Hurricanes-And-Halos-34-1503934493.jpg Hot

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Avatarium should be huge and should not be ignored, by anyone.

Widely labelled as Doom Metal, Avatarium could well be missing out on a much bigger fan-base. I say this because the word "Doom" does tend to evoke imaginings of negativity alongside vocals that could test even the hardiest of music lovers. In fact, if it hadn't been for my fellow reviewer, Ian Johnson, this band would've been totally ignored by my good self. Thankfully, I bowed to his experience and took a chance; thank the Lord I did because Avatarium bring so much more to the table.

They already have two EPs ('Moonhorse' – 2013, 'All I Want' – 2014), plus their self-titled debut (2013) and sophomore release 'Girl With The Raven Mask' (2015) under their belt. Yes, the debut was very "Doomy", but still worth investigating, and 'Girl ...' illustrates their progression and eclecticism with its almost theatrical soundscape.

With co-founder Leif Edling (Candlemass) now assuming the role of mentor and creative muse, rather than active band member, Marcus Jidell (Soen, ex-Evergrey, ex-Royal Hunt) on guitars, Lars Sköld on drums, vocalist extraordinaire Jennie-Ann Smith, plus newcomers Mats Rydström on bass and Rickard Nilsson on keys, continue to evolve Avatarium into a disciplined machine from their explosive 2012 inception.

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'Hurricanes And Halos' immediately impresses as 'Into The Fire/Into The Storm' recaptures the early seventies, in the style of Deep Purple (circa 'In Rock', 'Machine Head'), a pounding rhythm section supports impressive guitar work and the Hammond overlay is inspirational. One cannot ignore the vocal dexterity of Smith; strong and forthright, yet juxtaposed with an angelic timbre that astounds throughout. 'The Starless Sleep' reins things in a touch but its commercial slant ensures another foot-tapping success. My favourite, 'Road To Jerusalem', has an acoustic intro reminiscent of Bon Jovi's 'Wanted Dead Or Alive', it builds into a haunting, soul-soothing minor epic (think Blackmores Night meshed with early Black Sabbath). 'Medusa Child' harks back to their debut; a Doomy affair but simultaneously melodious, however the five minute instrumental outro arguably outstays its welcome. 'The Sky At The Bottom Of The Sea' oozes DP, with a dash of Blue Oyster Cult, and 'When Breath Turns To Air' is a delectably delivered death-bed dirge. 'A Kiss (From The End Of The World)' reminds me a little of Sabbath's 'Iron Man', whilst the short, funereal and instrumental title track brings the opus to a calmative conclusion.

Avatarium should be huge and should not be ignored, by anyone!

Dave Crompton

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