Avatarium started out more or less as a side project of Leif Edling, the leader of epic doom metal legends Candlemass back in 2013 and released two full-length albums and two EPs up until 2017.

Though one could easily recognize the characteristic songwriting style of Mr. Edling, the band didn’t sound like Candlemass at all. Yes, it was still doom metal, but with uniquely-sounding. I think that what gave the band its personality was Jennie-Ann Smith‘s vocal performance.

Jennie-Ann’s voice sounds nothing like what you hear from a typical female-fronted symphonic metal band. On the other hand, she doesn’t sing like Doro Pesch or Lita Ford either. Her vocal style is quite hard to describe, but it sounds to my ears like a mix between a female version of Ronnie James Dio and singer-songwriter. I know that my description probably only creates more confusion, but, anyway, that’s what I hear.

Another valuable asset of the band is the guitarist Marcus Jidell, who is also playing guitar in The Doomsday Kingdom, another band of Leif Edling, and who was a member of such great bands as Royal Hunt and Evergrey. He plays crushing doom metal riffs with the same ease as acostic passages or traditional rock licks.

On the band’s previous work, The Girl with the Raven Mask, Avatarium showed that they weren’t content with being just a doom metal band and they had more to say. A good example would be the song Pearls and Coffins. But does Hurricanes and Halos continue in the same vein?

Yes, it does. And I would say that it’s definitely the most diverse and musically mature album the Stockholm band has released so far.

While the album is still abundant with great doom riffs, it contains the bluesy Road to Jerusalem, Medusa Child with little girl singing the chorus and its proggy-sounding later half, and the heartfelt When Breath Turns to Air. The haunting sound of The Starless Sleep, while not completely unfamiliar to Avatarium, was not that prominent one any of the older band’s songs.

If you are more into fast-paced metal, you should listen to Into the Fire/Into the Storm and The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea that also pay tribute to Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and other originators of hard rock and heavy metal.

The performance of every one of the musicians is top-notch on this record. The production should also be mentioned, as Marcus Jidell managed to achieve a kind of sound that’s both rather clean and not over-produced.

My verdict is that Hurricanes and Halos is a great album, and it shows the potential the band has to do even better. I would recommend this record, even if you generally don’t listen to doom metal, but you would like to discover a band that has its unique sound.

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