Avatarium / Death, Where Is Your Sting a contender for album of the year

Avatarium caused some pleasant ripples through the world of Metal with their self-titled debut in 2013. Heavily doom-influenced material with added flair and imagination, mostly from the writing genius of Candlemass man Leif Edling but with a sound hugely influenced by guitarist Marcus Jidell and vocalist Jennie-Ann Smith.

Four albums and two EPs later, Edling has parted ways with the band due to ill health, and now we have the first material from the band, which rests entirely on their own shoulders.

Avatarium – Death, Where Is Your Sting (AFM Records)

Release Date: 21 October 2022

Words: Ian Sutherland

The dark album title and striking cover both suggest that the doom moniker is one which still suits them, but this album is so much more than one genre. In the past, they’ve referred to themselves as dark, heavy and poetic, and that’s much more suitable in my view.

As Jidell says, “Leif Edling is an amazing songwriter, but we always did the arrangements and brought in elements with acoustic guitars, a ’60s flavour, jazzy elements, and all the things that we like, just to find our own voice.”

Avatarium cover of Death, Where Is Your Sting
Avatarium. Death, Where Is Your Sting a really strong collection of songs from one of the most imaginative and interesting bands on the planet right now.

Death, Where Is Your Sting isn’t too different from what has gone before. It’s just a sound that has expanded to cover more ground, ever more colours with moods and imagination added to some stonking big riffs to create something which is a delight to the ears.

A Love Like Ours starts with strings and fragile, plaintive vocals from Smith before slowly building into a stomping, twisting monster of a tune, while Stockholm has one of those bending, crunching Jidell riffs matched with sections which have a real swing to them.

The title track is all groovy and acoustic and almost psychedelic in the sound that surrounds it, then Psalm For The Living follows, an emotional, understated piece most likely about surviving the global pandemic, a subject which has heavily influenced this album in different ways.

God Is Silent has a doomy yet groovy vibe punctuated with Smith’s striking and glorious vibrato in the chorus, while Mother Can You Hear Me Now is a grower, starting with captivating vocals over gentle rhythms and building through to a magnificent solo from Jidell, one of the most underrated guitarists around.

Nocturne has more of that doom stomp they like to get into, while album closer Transcendent starts off like it’s building to a suitably bombastic crescendo before switching gears and ending proceedings on a mellow acoustic note.

I’ve mentioned every tune on the record here, as I think they’re all worth mentioning. This is a really, really strong collection of songs from one of the most imaginative and interesting bands on the planet right now and a contender for my album of the year.

It’s Metal for the mind as well as the ears, and I love it.

Sleeve Notes

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