Avatarium : The Girl With The Raven Mask

avatarium-tgwtrmWe were mightily impressed with Avatarium’s first album a couple of years back. Their debut album recieved praise such as:
“…here is the sound of a band that intuitively understand the power of the riff, the importance of narrative and the essential leitmotifs that keep us coming back again and again to the joy that is heavy metal“

That’s all well and good, but album number two can see a promising band fall well and truly off the radar. It’s hard to stand out doing the doom thing, so any let up in quality will see a band drop to the bottom of a very big pile.

The secret to a standout doom album seems to be not to go out of your way to make a doom album. Avatarium may well smother thier sound in bleak and melancholic overtones with plenty of bottom end in their rhythyms; but also in the mix you’ll find plenty of influences rather than the default Black Sabbath blueprint.

The glisteningly clean and slightly operatic vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith stamp an intital identity to what Avatarium do. Added to that the band will cross-over into proggy sections, a hint of folk and the title track just screams striaght ahead hard rock.

‘The Girl With The Raven Mask’ opens with an air-raid siren to warn of the onslaught that is coming your way. The track bowls along more like a NWOBHM opener rather than a big doom record. Of course, there are plenty of sprawling longer numbers to come.

The band have carefully selected the studio and set up for this record. Working with David Castillo, who has also worked with Opeth and Bloodbath to name a couple, seems like a winner from the start. There’s a warm feeling to the record that may well come from the majority of it being recorded live in the studio and that atmosphere compliments the crisp vocals perfectly.

‘The January Sea’ is straight back down to plodding pace. Some big riffs dragging their feet into a more minimalist track. The variation keeps on coming however. ‘Iron Mule’ has some wonderful clean guitar moments, ‘Hypnotized’ is jaunty and angular in a proggy fashion whilst the intro to ‘Run Killer Run’ is as scuzzy as hell.

This is another killer release from Avatarium. Hopefully one day we might catch them live too!