Fireworks

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Avatarium - 'The Girl With The Raven Mask' http://mail.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/9d/aa/08/avatarium-the-girl-with-the-raven-mask-38-1449772055.jpg Hot

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Top musicianship, a huge sounding production, superb songs and a voice to marvel at.

DOOM! That heavy, dark and sombre form of music, started by Black Sabbath in the early 1970s and then continued onwards by many a band, has finally led to this new release from Swedish Doomsters Avatarium and frankly it's bloody marvellous. Combining elements like the aforementioned Sabbath with Blue Oyster Cult and even Rainbow, has given this band a unique sound that is jaw-droppingly good.

In addition, having Jennie-Ann Smith on lead vocals is a killer move. Her voice is rich and warm and the emotions she imparts as she sings on this release are breath-taking. She is the focal point for this album's musicality and it's on the strength of her voice that Leif Edling (Candlemass, Abstrakt Algebra), Markus Jidell (ex-Evergrey), Lars Sk├Âld (Jupiter Society) and Carl Westholm (Krux, Jupiter Society) have built their songs upon.

The intense title track 'Girl With The Raven Mask' commences proceedings and the glorious retro guitar work and grinding Hammond Organ drive the track's melodies like a stake into your brain. From there, Avatarium continue to go for your jugular with devastating effect.

Fireworks - The Ultimate Magazine For Melodic Rock Music

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'The January Sea' is a song I could see the mighty Candlemass doing, with its heavy guitars, strong arrangements and Smith's superb vocals; this is a real declaration of intent from the band. Then we come to one of the best songs I've heard this year, the charming 'Pearls And Coffins'. Again the way the band have arranged the song is outstanding, with all instruments taking their rightful part in the track but as before it's Smith's dramatic vocals that push this song to its logical conclusion.

Other cuts to keep a lookout for are 'Ghostlight' with its dark solemn guitar and bass lines, the up-tempo (for a Doom band anyway) 'Run Killer Run' (which is the fastest song I think this band have ever recorded) and finally the Opeth-like 'The Master Thief' where the ethereal melodies of the song weave and musically rove as Jidell and Smith work their collective tails off to draw all the drama and emotion they can from the song.

This might not be an album to everyone's liking or taste but a good song (or album of songs) is good, no matter what the genre is. Give Avatarium a chance because there's everything here you could want or need in a great Rock release; top musicianship, a huge sounding production, superb songs and a voice to marvel at.

A winner and no mistake.

Ian Johnson

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