The first full-length effort of Leif Edling's newest project has been one of the most anticipated releases of 2013 for this old-school psyche'n'doom fan. On the back of the Moonhorse EP from earlier this year, it became apparent that this album was going to be something of a delight for Candlemass fans, and, with textures sitting very competently astride the current predilection of the metal scene for prog and retro vibes, a whole load of others besides. Despite the popularity of such things, there is no obvious bandwagon jumping evident here, with material that is unique to itself, yet is undeniably another strong link in the heritage of Edling's musical creativity.
Thematically, Avatarium has a fragmented, dreamlike quality that the sometimes unconventional song structures emphasise, with lyrics that invoke dark, evasive fairytales, sorcerous conspiracies and the red grimness of nature. Jennie-Ann Smith's vocals add a crucial element to the realisation of these aesthetics and are one of the obvious highlights, delivering an enchantment and power that echoes the presence, phrasing and strength of Messiah Marcolin in female form.
With its higher level of experimentation, the riffs are more reminiscent of mid-era Candlemass like From The 13th Sun, Candlemass and the Abstrakt Algebra material than early albums like Tales of Creation or Nightfall. Though the doomier sections are strong and crushing and bear all the trademarks of their prodigious creator, it is the lighter interludes that carve up the boulder-heavy slabs of doom which add a subtlety and depth of interest that makes Avatarium more than the quick spin off project that Edling's doom supergroup Krux - for all of its quality material - has often felt like.