Avatarium - The Girl With the Raven Mask. 2015 Sweden
CD issues: 2015 Nuclear Blast (Germany); 2015 Metalville (Germany); 2015 Chaos Reigns / Ward (Japan)
On paper, I could describe this as Candlemass meets my Post psychedelic, proto progressive with female vocals list. Fronted by the talented Jennie-Ann Smith, it comes as no surprise her influences are similar to the ones in that listing. The classic RnB, soul, and early rock singers. And it certainly doesn't hurt that she (wife of guitarist Marcus Jidell) is a stunningly beautiful woman, who could still go down the runway as she approaches age 40. And the fact that Ms. Smith isn't into metal much at all, promises a great contrast in style. Especially when you consider trusty organist Carl Westholm is on board. So Candlemass meets Goliath or Room or Julian's Treatment? Oh my heart be still!
Sigh. What we get is a Candlemass album with a talented singer that sounds like she's from 1970. Still not the worst idea I've ever heard, and that alone makes the grade here. I've been a fan of Candlemass since Epicus DM, so I can live with a new album under a different moniker. This is hardly the first time Candlemass has blended keyboards into their sound. That is, if you can hear them. I have to laugh at the thought of the classic Jon Lord / Ritchie Blackmore battles. If that's what is supposed to be happening here, then Jon Lord would have been knocked off his horse in the first 10 seconds and hauled away half dead.
Edling is playing it too safe here. He's in his comfort zone and feeding red meat to his audience. Jennie-Ann Smith often times seems compelled to sound like a female Messiah Marcolin. I would have preferred more development within the compositions, and perhaps break out some new styles and genres. Not in a mishmash way, but rather blend them together in the same way the 70s masters would do. The potential here is enormous. But for now, I can accept Avatarium as the new name for Candlemass.
There exists an additional DVD with special pressings from Nuclear Blast and Chaos Reigns. My copy doesn't have that.