Album Review: S/T by Avatarium
Posted by RiffRaff
The explosion of female fronted doom/occult metal/rock bands over the past couple of years has been nothing but a breath of air directly taken from the peaks of the Rocky Mountains. If anything, having a female presence in band that is not bleating her faux-operatic vocals over saccharine symphonic power metal has created a bit of parity and diversity in the metal world. To me it seems that the selling point is no longer ‘listen to us because we got this hot chick in our band’, but rather ‘listen to us because we’re creating new and interesting dynamics in our band’. The opening track on today’s album under review sums this up perfectly.
Moonhorse starts off with an expected elephantine doom metal riff and groove but quickly takes a turn and presents a dynamic I’ve yet to hear. Haunting acoustic guitars lead in vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith’s dulcet voice that begins to recount a child’s daydream. Beyond some of the best lyric writing I’ve heard in years, the fact that the voice plays the part of a little girl the images the song paints uses colors and themes I’ve yet to hear in metal. And as the lyrics take on a darker turn, the vocal performance always works to make each moment as unsettling, beautiful, or powerful as needed. All of this is not once under/over-shadowed by the instrumental performances. Every piece, from the crushing riffs, dreamy acoustics, and soulful solos all work like a well oiled machine to deliver nothing but the most complete musical experience they can. Absolutely nothing but the right ‘decisions’ were made in crafting this song, and every other track on the album.
Beyond the consistently outstanding songwriting (helmed by Leif Edling, you may know about him, he played in/wrote fore this tiny little band called Candlemass), this 7 song doom metal romp is packed to the brim with variety and interesting ideas. Boneflower is a poppy psychedelic turn with a piquant 70’s vibe, Pandora’s Egg explores the bluesier side of doom with a great Janis Joplin influence accentuating the vocals, and Lady in the Lamp starts off with a minimalistic approach as it slowly burns into one of the best ballads I’ve ever heard in my 30+ years music fandom. And then there’s Bird of Prey. Such imagery, emotion, fun, power, and perfection squeezed into its six and a half-minute run time.
I honestly can not find a single fault at any moment on Avatarium’s self-titled debut. Moreso, the album presents new and fresh concepts and approaches which the metal industry is so desperately in need of at the moment. I also like that quality releases like this are really helping pathfind a much-needed proper female presence in metal that is neither sexualized nor that faux-operatic symphonic power metal stuff. This is what a perfect 5.0 scored album should sound like/do and I highly recommend that fans of all genres of music give Avatarium a listen. This is not just an album I will spin and enjoy until something else catches my ear, but a record that will join classics like Opeth’s Still Life, Iron Maiden’s Seventh Son, and Black Sabbath’s Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, as an album I can and will pop in at any time and love it as much as my first spin. Peace Love and Metal!!!!