(9/10) Avatarium is finally releasing their long awaited second album. I must say that I was very curious. How will it sound? Can the guys from Stockholm, Sweden live up to the expctations that tremendously raised after the debut and the EP? Is the melancholic sphere still there or had the pressure a fatal impact on the band's sound? None of this. The second studio album is a further development of the bands trademarks. "The Girl With the Raven Mask" became a fantastic album that is kept slightly slower than the debut and that comes with more classic rock elements; something Marcus Jidell mentioned already in an interview for MHMB.
Avatarium created an own sound that can be identified immediately as being from the five-piece. This is mainly based on Jenny's almost unique voice and her way of interpreting, actually 'living', the lyrics. It seems that the pressure pushed the band to top form and to top performance
The title track "Girl With the Raven Mask" acts as opener. It's the interaction of hard and fragile in one which makes this track so good. It's the best anthem on an album full of highlights. What a start. Wow.
A mighty doom riff a la Avatarium kicks-off "The January Sea" - a tune full of slow motion metal, down tuned riffs and clean vocals of Jenny. All this together builds a great arc of tension.
"Pearls and Coffins" is one of the numbers where classic rock shines through. It's the bluesy guitar that spreads a sad vibe, supported by Jenny's vocallines and a great organ sound.
Slow and heavy, those attributes are coming back in "Hypnotized". Nomen et omen here, since the song is build to hypnotize. Classic rock comes back too while listening to Jidell's solo part, that brings back memories of the old Rainbow. That's music at its best.
"Ghostlights" starts with Jenny singing "When the northern winds blow..." - this descibes the song spot-on. The number has a mystic expression that's supported by Jindell's excellent solo, not to forget the embedded hammond sound.
Compared to those songs "Run Killer Run" is an almost swinging tunes. It's a straight forward rocker without frills. Just cool and made for the stage.
"Iron mule" instead is a sentimental track that's kept more silent. It comes with a lot of feeling connected to it and shows the soulful side of Avatarium. This semi-ballad is another winner on "The Girl With the Raven Mask".
"The Master Thief" is a six minutes long composition with a dark vibe. The first half is kept more relaxed, before guitar and hammond adds harshness in the middle part. A bluesy solo takes over and the band perfoms the silent/loud interplay in perfection.
With "In My Time of Dying" is the bonus track. A down tuned crawling riff and a creepy beginning characterize this tune. It is a desperate atmosphere in this song that feels like an emotional fight between hope and despair. It's an excellent song that has far more potential than 'just' being a bonus track. It adds another aspect to Avatarium's musical spectra what makes the porfolio of songs even wider and thrilling.
To conclude: Avatarium delivered the expected strong second longplayer. What started with the fantastic debut found it's continuation in the EP from a few month ago. "The Girl With the Raven Mask" is the next climax in Avatarium's pretty young musical history. One or two more faster songs, like the title track, would have been benefitial, but who cares. The guys from Stockholm found their trademarks, that can immediately be recognised, do great songs and have extraordinary musicians on board. Best preconditions for a glorious future.
- Girl With the Raven Mask
- The January Sea
- Pearls and Coffins
- Run Killer Run
- Iron Mule
- The Master Thief
- In My Time of Dying (Bonus Track)
Label: Nuclear Blast
Genre: Doom Metal
Release Date EU: October 16th, 2015