Vera : When Avatarium released their debut album in 2013, it instantly ended up at number one in my list of the year. This happened to be a new project of Candlemass/Krux moving spirit Leif Edling, but guitarist/producer Marcus Jidell (at that time just ex-Evergrey, but now also in Soen and The Doomsday Kingdom) and female singer Jennie-Ann Smith defined the timbre for the greatest part. The band was launched as a rocket and late 2015 they knew how to cash this with a sublime sophomore album ’The Girl With The Raven Mask’.
The music of this Swedish constellation has an ultimate signature sound. Dark doom influences and melancholic bluesy atmospheres are present, yet they also stand with both feet in a kind of vintage sound. Think of bands such as Deep Purple (Hammond organ is omnipresent), Led Zeppelin and Uriah Heep in this respect. But this is more than a tribute to our musical legacy, this is crafted in excellent compositions that put emotions above skills and that is not different on their third feat ‘Hurricanes And Halos’. Edling still remains their mentor and wrote six songs out of eight, but the composing contribution of the couple Marcus and Jennie-Ann increases. On top of that, they have recruited new bassist Mats Rydström and keyboardist Rickard Nielsson (in addition to the couple and drummer Lars Sköld) and that’s why we understand the recent statement of Edling that this band can stand on its own feet now and they are ready to bring their talents more and more in a live situation.
The album kicks off with the smooth rocking, steamy track ‘Into The Fire – Into The Storm’ in which Deep Purple and Uriah Heep play poker under supervision of the Swedes. A fervent rocker featuring organ, but naturally the eminent guitar skills of Jidell leap to the eye as well. These are going into Pink Floyd allied psychedelic areas in ‘The Starless Sleep’, yet a smooth up-tempo song for the rest. It gets slower and soaring in ‘Road To Jerusalem’ with its suitable oriental flavour. Acoustic guitars and a solemn atmosphere support the captivating vocal lines. This is ultimate psychedelic beauty! ‘Medusa Child’ is a challenge and daring. The doom riffs are really contrasting with a suddenly popping up children’s choir. The nine minutes during track flirts with very dark atmospheres as well as with a kind of lightness with estranged effect. Very engrossing twists and turns with magnificent guitar skills, but this goes straight to the heart all album long anyways. In the smooth rocking ‘The Sky Of The Bottom Of The Sea’ we are regaled with mystery and fervent solos and organ as extra. One of the most moving songs happens to be the introvert ‘When Breath Turns Into Air’, dedicated to Jidell’s father, and too sensitive for words! The trademarks of Edling are still noticeable in songs like ‘A Kiss (From The End Of The World)’ with its mid-paced ponderous structure and atmospheric beauty, but this goes hand in hand with the skills from Marcus Jidell and Jennie-Ann in a wonderful manner. When we finally listen to the atmospheric, instrumental ‘Hurricanes And Halos’ we have a new stunner in our hands, but even these words are inadequate to do full justice to this outstanding record. Just buy it and let it take you on a timeless trip! Release date: 26th of May.