Avatarium: The Girl With The Raven Mask

Candlemass mastermind takes flight with his latest muse

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If the Swedes’ self-titled debut album two years back was highly impressive, then here they’ve become even more alluring.

The band founded and fashioned by Candlemass master Lief Edling mix doom, 60s-infused theatricality and occasional progressive influences very dynamically from the opening title track, with the vocals of Jennie-Ann Smith immediately catching the attention.

She has the surging energy to hold her own against a backdrop of fierce riffs, but also offers subtle instincts. This is emphasised on Hypnotized, when Marcus Jidell steps into the limelight with blazing guitar runs. What lifts Avatarium into being vital is their attention to melody; Carl Westholm’s keyboard swathes have a lot to do with this. On Pearls And Coffins, he and Smith add a lightness that complements the severity of Leif’s rhythmic drive, thereby making the song one of the most compelling on the album.

Iron Mule nods towards Mountain’s immortal Nantucket Sleighride, while The Master Thief finishes the album with a broodingly charismatic march. Avatarium have stepped up a class.

Malcolm Dome

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, 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. He died in 2021