‘All I Want’ (EP)
Nuclear Blast Records
(Released: 14 November 2014)
Avatarium’s self-titled 2013 debut album was an enjoyable mix of Candlemass-style riffery and gloomy rock – it was the sound of a band settling into its sound. And a taste of things to come.
One year on, the band – the latest incarnation of doom king Leif Edling – has blossomed into something spectacular. The final track of that debut (‘Lady In The Lamp’) resounded with echoes of 70s rock, and here Edling has followed that path to a vibrant conclusion.
Drawing inspiration from his old vinyl collection, Edling, together with guitarist Marcus Jidell (ex-Evergrey), has created a vibe that merges the flamboyance of Rainbow with the precision of Judas Priest, the jauntiness of Jethro Tull, the accessibility of Scorpions, and – yes – the intrinsic heaviness of Edling’s crowning glory, Candlemass.
The results are fantastic: two new, simple, elegant songs that burst into existence like fresh water from a mountain spring. The lively opening title track is at once epic and ravenous, sounding free and spontaneous but still tightly controlled. And then comes ‘Deep Well’, a gently-growing monster that could have come direct from the 1970s and yet maintains a modern, doomed charisma.
Jennie-Ann Smith’s vocals are pained and delicate, but whereas previously they had seemed slightly hesitant, now they are bold, proud and entirely compelling. Not only does she deliver a mournfully melodic masterclass, but Smith also throws in some dashing, vintage rock’n’roll flourishes which add character. It seems like we are now getting to know the singer through her performance: Smith is not Messiah Marcolin (he’s far prettier, of course!) and now she is letting her own personality shine through.
This EP also showcases the fine skills of keyboard virtuoso Carl Westholm. A consistent collaborator with Edling, Westholm’s synths are rather more restrained here that they are with his extravagant sci-fi-inspired project Jupiter Society, but they add a subtle depth and colour to Avatarium’s rich sound. This is particularly evident on the live recordings (from 2013 Roadburn Festival, the band’s first ever show outside Sweden) that make up Side B.
Candlemass plus Rainbow equals awesome. Leif Edling’s Avatarium have hit upon a winning formula with this instantly loveable EP – it’s a timeless mini-classic of modern doom.