Swedish bassist and songwriter Leif Edling formed doom metal legends Candlemass in the mid 1980s. Although that band is still reportedly active, their eleventh (and stated to be final) album was “Psalms Of The Dead” in 2012.
A side project, another doom metal band named Krux started by Edling and Candlemass bandmate Mats Levén has thus far produced three studio albums since 2003.
More recently, in 2013, Edling got together with guitarist Marcus Jidell, vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith (Jidell’s wife) to form Avatarium. The band’s line-up is completed by drummer Lars Sköld and keyboard player Carl Westholm.
A self-titled debut album was issued in 2013, and was a solid and heavy doom metal record. Drawing comparisons with the likes of Jex Thoth and Blood Ceremony, album number two “The Girl With The Raven Mask” is now out.
First track “Girl With The Raven Mask” gallops out of the speakers with more pace than anything on the debut album, and is full of hard-hitting guitars and a powerful vocal performance from Smith.
Next up is the album’s longest cut, at just under eight minutes, “The January Sea” which is very much a crushing slow doom track with a definite melancholic edge.
“Pearls And Coffins” is a more classic hard rock tune, with lots of light and shade, some tasty Hammond organ and you could just imagine the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Ian Gillan or David Coverdale singing on this at the peak of their powers. The same could be said of the truly excellent “Ghostlight”.
“Hypnotized” is, honestly, quite hypnotising with psychedelic keyboard sounds under an insistent guitar riff and another superb performance on the mic.
“Run Killer Run” is quite Cathedral-like in terms of the guitar sound and riffs and ushers “Iron Mule”, a track that initially sounds like a ballad until it really gets going.
Closing track “The Master Thief” is another light and shade filled epic before the bonus track “In My Time Of Dying” which shines a slightly different light on the group with a swampy and bluesy vibe.
All told this is slightly less heavy than the debut album, but benefits from more dynamism which allows Smith’s bluesy vocals to cut through loud and clear. Jidell and Edling provide some suitably crushing riffs on top of Sköld’s powerful drumming and there are some tasty guitar solos too. Finally, Westholm’s keyboards help fill out the sonic picture nicely.
A great doom metal album with psychedelic and progressive rock elements, “The Girl With The Raven Mask” is highly recommended listening…
“The Girl With The Raven Mask” tracklist:
1. Girl With The Raven Mask / 2. The January Sea / 3. Pearls And Coffins / 4. Hypnotized / 5. Ghostlight / 6. Run Killer Run / 7. Iron Mule / 8. The Master Thief / 9. In My Time Of Dying