Avatarium - Hurricanes And Halos album review

Glorious orgy of excess from versatile Swedes

Cover art for Avatarium - Hurricanes And Halos album

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Swedish doom-metal maximalists Avatarium greedily devour a banquet of hard rock styles on their rich and spicy third album, from bosom-heaving Wagnerian melodrama to thunderous Zeppelin-sized riff-crunchers to rumbling cinematic soundscapes.

Although health issues have forced founding member and former Candlemass bassist Leif Edling to take a more part-time role, the husband and wife team of guitarist Marcus Jidell and singer Jennie-Anne Smith still make a formidable team, expanding the band’s sound with stormy epics like the nine-minute prog-folk symphony Medusa Child or the operatic power ballad The Starless, which sounds like ABBA might if they donned horned helmets and crashed fire-breathing dragons into the gates of Valhalla.

A couple of workmanlike blues-metal chuggers aside, Hurricanes And Halos is a gloriously preposterous showcase for Smith’s mighty vocal range, which can switch with ease from excess-all-arias histrionics to the sultry, soulful sighs of When Breath Turns To Air, Jidell’s fond tribute to his late father.

Stephen Dalton has been writing about all things rock for more than 30 years, starting in the late Eighties at the New Musical Express (RIP) when it was still an annoyingly pompous analogue weekly paper printed on dead trees and sold in actual physical shops. For the last decade or so he has been a regular contributor to Classic Rock magazine. He has also written about music and film for Uncut, Vox, Prog, The Quietus, Electronic Sound, Rolling Stone, The Times, The London Evening Standard, Wallpaper, The Film Verdict, Sight and Sound, The Hollywood Reporter and others, including some even more disreputable publications.