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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Reviews: Avatarium, A Pale Horse Named Death, Nightglow, The Lone Madman (Paul Hutchings)

Avatarium: The Fire I Long For (Nuclear Blast)

Written during and after the arrival of the first child of singer Jennie-Anne Smith and guitarist Marcus Jiddell, album number 4 from the Swedes is another impressive opus which builds on the fantastic Hurricanes And Halos. Rickard Nilsson’s thick Hammond organ threatens to dominate the opening track Voices, but Jiddell ensures that his signature guitar work is heard. First single Rubicon allows the band to flex, a muscular almost metal track which skilfully retains the essential doom feel that has been the soundtrack to this most captivating of bands. Lay Me Down has a Catch The Rainbow feel to it, and there are plenty of old school influences evident here whilst the band manage to retain their own sound with comfort. Lay Me Down also allows Avatarium to depart from their usual bone crushing doom with a more psychedelic piece that also echoes The Doors and Zeppelin in parts.

Leif Edling may no longer tour with the band he created, but my recent conversation with Jiddell revealed that the Candlemass legend is still fully involved in the band, contributing three songs to the album. It’s Jennie-Anne Smith’s soulful vocals that give Avatarium an edge to so many other doom-filled outfits and her performance here is superb. The racy rocking Shake That Demon, possibly my favourite track on the album allows the band to kick out the jams, as it thunders along with thick riffs and a drive that is impossible not to react to. Elsewhere, there is unexpected variety across the album with the powerful Porcelain Skull at odds with the mournful Great Beyond and the epic title track. Stars They Move closes the album, a solitary piano and minor effects accompanying Smith’s melancholic vocal. One of the most impressive releases of the year and hopefully some live dates to come in 2020. 9/10

A Pale Horse Named Death: Uncovered (Long Branch Records) [Paul Hutchings]

A two-track single from Brooklyn’s APHND, Uncovered features two covers, the first Three Dog Night’s One, which retains the melancholic echoes and the song structure of the original but inevitably adds the unique elements that make APHND such an interesting band. Crushingly heavy at times, APHND ensure that the psychedelic elements are in situ. Track two is Prayers For Rain, from The Cure’s 1989 album Disintegration. A brave move to cover such a revered song from the band’s bestselling album, APHND manage to capture the gloom and depression that lay over the creation of Disintegration as Robert Smith faced the realisation that he was approaching 30. Contrasting styles of songs, covered with respect and panache, and well worth a listen once you have checked out their superb When The World Becomes Undone from earlier this year. 7/10

Nightglow: Rage Of A Bleedin’ Society (logic(il)logic)

Badged as a thrash band, Italian four-piece Nightglow were a lot more melodic than I was expecting. There is certainly a thrash element to the band, their power and pace suggests that they could fit into that category. However, at times, such as on the quite bizarre On My Own, the band veer closer to the path that Disturbed follow. I’ve listened to this album several times and I still can’t decide if it is anything more than average (which suggests not). Musically tight, there’s nothing that irritates or annoys me, but I can’t say that it grasps me tightly screaming “this is brilliant” either. In part it’s the vocal delivery of Daniele ‘Abba’ Abate, which is an acquired taste and one which I’m not over fussed on. His raspy, full-throated style sits in the nu-metal arena as do several of the band’s songs, such as Fuck@looza and the unimpressive album closer MOFO Social Club. Overall this album tries hard but doesn’t light the spark. 5/10

The Lone Madman: Let The Night Come (Self Released)

Formed in Helsinki in 2014, The Lone Madman is a four-piece doom outfit whose heavy dark riffs belong in a hammer horror film. Sinister, evocative and cranium-crushingly heavy, this album contains a mere four songs which combined total 42 minutes. Yes, they are massively long. Häxan, the shortest song on the album at a mere 7:29 is based on the 1922 film of the same name and deals with how magic and witchcraft have been misrepresented over the ages. It’s gloomy, intense and old school, with a freakish flute solo reminiscent of 1970s occult outfits at the three-minute mark. The remaining three songs all pass the 11-minute mark and for a debut release are impressively constructed, full of heavy, low end riffs and gargantuan slabs of stoner doom rock. Heavy as the bus full of elephants, if you like your doom in the style of Crypt Sermon then allow The Lone Madman into your head. 7/10

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