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Avatarium: Avatarium

A charismatic, multi-faceted and doomy debut.

If Black Sabbath hung out with 70s Rainbow and listened to Baroness, and then jammed to Within Temptation’s catalogue with them, the result might sound something like Avatarium. This is the new band formed by one-time Candlemass bassist Leif Edling, which explains the doomy crust.

Everything has the edifice of heaviness, but there’s also a significant emphasis on both virtuosity and melody here. You can feel the band’s individuality as soon as opening song Moonhorse opens its pores. Vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith shows herself to have a fine approach, while guitarist Marcus Jidell might emulate Tony Iommi to a certain extent, but he has a more obviously progressive style, complemented by the understated keyboard musings of Carl Westholm.

Things reach a climax with Bird Of Prey and Lady In The Lamp. The former sounds like the sort of more pop-oriented track that Within Temptation are capable of delivering, while the latter has an epic, intimate sweep that shows Avatarium have the composure and talent to match their ambitious musical attitude.

For me, this is among the best debut albums of the year. Avatarium are definitely ones to watch in 2014.

Malcolm Dome had an illustrious and celebrated career which stretched back to working for Record Mirror magazine in the late 70s and Metal Fury in the early 80s before joining Kerrang! at its launch in 1981. His first book, Encyclopedia Metallica (opens in new tab), published in 1981, may have been the inspiration for the name of a certain band formed that same year. Dome is also credited with inventing the term "thrash metal" while writing about the Anthrax song Metal Thrashing Mad in 1984. With the launch of Classic Rock magazine in 1998 he became involved with that title, sister magazine Metal Hammer, and was a contributor to Prog magazine since its inception in 2009.