So Avatarium is back once more, and what started as a ventilation for Leif Edling’s ideas, not suitable for Candlemass, has by now become an awaited institution in Swedish Doom Metal!
Leif Edling though, is (sort of) out of the picture, as he left the bass guitar duties to Mats Rydström in conjunction with the recording of their third album “Hurricanes and Halos” although he still remained as the main song writer and I guess that he still acts as a great influence on Avatarium’s sound, because although I had a bit of a fear that Avatarium would go further in the direction from “Hurricanes and Halos”, drifting away from their initial Doom metal-sound, at least the beginning of their fourth album, “The Fire I Long For” sounds very much as Leif Edging’s vision of Doom!
The record starts of strong, first out is “Voices”, a really heavy doomster that makes sure that Avatarium, although their slip into calmer territory, still is a Doom Metal force to be reckoned with! Second out is “Rubicon”, a groovy mid-tempo song which, although not that “doomy” really rocks my boat and the third song, which undoubtedly is the finest piece of music on the album is the, not doomy, nor metal at all, dark Americana-sounding “Lay Me Down”. This trio of songs makes a strong as hell opening of “The Fire I long for” with both brilliant song writing and of course, Jennie-Ann Smith’s extraordinary voice!
Sadly the rest of the album, although still ok, doesn’t quite live up to the promising beginning, “Porcelain Skull” suffers from a bit boring riffs in the verses but is saved by Jeannie-Ann’s vocals and a really catchy refrain while “Shake the Demon” is an up tempo rocker with some really annoying guitar accents and an unnecessary distortion effect on the vocals. Probably the song I like the least on the album.
“Great Beyond” follows with a somewhat shoe gazer, indie rock take on Doom Metal. Not quite my cup of tea but a decent song which actually builds up quite an atmosphere and when the song burst into something that must be a homage to the main riff in Deep Purples “Perfect Strangers” Avatarium is back at top again!
Next is the title song, “The Fire I Long For” which mix more Americana with some heavy guitars. Needless to say, the vocals on this is amazing! “Epitaph of Heroes” takes us back to a well needed Doom Metal-sound again and although I wished that they would have started with the nice verse riff instead of the intro riff that honestly doesn’t really match, this song is a fine piece of Doom with great verses and a compelling refrain. The intro riff makes a return in the ending where it fits in much better so I guess it gets a bit of a redress.
Last out is “Stars they Move”, a calm piano-ballad that almost sounds like a Jazz-ballad and although I don’t know, my guess is that this is a tribute to a famous Swedish actor/Jazz singer, the late Monica Zetterlund. Although Jazz certainly isn’t anything I enjoy, “Stars they Move” is a good song and serves as a tasteful and moving end to the album.
Obviously my feelings about “The Fire I Long For” is a bit mixed, it starts out great and although everything, except maybe “Shake the Demon” actually is quite enjoyable I feel that something might be missing. Unfortunately that missing piece is some real killer riffs, an ingredient I find indispensable on a Doom Metal-record.
The star of the album is undoubtedly Jennie-Ann Smith whose remarkable voice certainly is one of a kind and on an album with some great heights but sadly also some, although not abysmal, dips, she saves the day, more than once!
Title: The Fire I Long For
Label: Nuclear Blast
Date of release: 22/11-19
Playing time: 43:58
Stand out track: Lay Me Down