Avatarium - Hurricanes and Halos

Avatarium Hurricanes and Halos cover
Hurricanes and Halos
Nuclear Blast
Cue in the third album by the Swedes, who must count themselves very lucky to have the very evocative Jennie-Ann Smith as a vocalist. Following a pretty amazing debut, that Lief Edling composed from material that didn’t seem to fit the Candlemass canon with a rather hasty sophomore album that failed to match it in every way, two years later the band strikes for a third time, with the style and the material being rather predictable by this point, less intriguing, maybe a bit more riffy, but again failing to match the debut, for other reasons this time around.
It’s is pretty evident that despite their vocalist’s very unique style and undeniable ability, there is only a finite amount of things you can do within the confines of the sound that the band goes for. This much heavier “Jefferson Airplane”, “semi acoustic Candlemass with a girl” – call it what you will, is struggling a bit to sound inspiring.
“Into the Fire / Into the Storm” is rather pacey and pretty repetitive of the riff, with a couple of interesting passages, inflected interestingly by JAS and a decent chorus, more puzzling than reassuring…
“The Starless Sleep” elects too, to go for an energetic beat, to maybe counter for what is inevitably going to come later (ie a slowdown); it’s interesting but not earth shatteringly good.
“Road to Jerusalem” tries to be eastern, but is probably too electric at first to convince, despite the valiant efforts… again a somewhat misguided tune that might have benefited from being a bit more focused, a bit shorter but also a little slower and doomier.
“Medusa Child” is based around some nice riffing and has a pretty hypnotic chorus combined with a verse that seems to have been in the works for another track but just got worked in there; it hardly manages to justify its nine minutes with the various slow jimjams that occur after the fourth minute…
“The Sky at the Bottom of the Sea” has lots of Iommy/Nicholls sort of mannerisms, which give it an air of allure, but ultimately it’s just good, not great… although that solo it has, makes it standout in a big way…
“When Breath Turns to Air” is a ballad, playing on the strengths of JAS, ie the nice vocal timbre… but ultimately again fails to make your stomach churn… the dreamy/floydesque jams too that tie things up, further dilute the song’s atmosphere, into a “cosmic soup”.
“A Kiss (From the End of the World)” is based on a fuzzy riff and has a very cool chorus, but again feels like less than the sum of the parts, especially with the outro melodies overlasting the song and leading to the title track.
“Hurricanes and Halos”, which is a bizarre instrumental, a really simple motif mostly concerned with the atmosphere with vibrating sustains causing it to sound rather outworldly and its paean like treble notes contrasting greatly – but still melancholically, over the simple rhythm… odd.
Overall, a more even effort than its predecessor, but also showing that this band might have run its course, unless Lief is able to write some “amazing” material for them…